Live Review / Photos: Islands, Jemina Pearl, Toro Y Moi @ the G-Spot (2009.11.02)


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01. MP3: Toro Y Moi – Talamak from Well Tusked (2009)

02. MP3: Toro Y Moi – Human Nature (Michael Jackson cover) from CHUM ONAH: BxF celebrates the music of M. Jackson

03. MP3: Jemina Pearl – I Hate People featuring Iggy Pop from Break It Up (2009)

All photos: Greg Szeto | Full set

Toro Y Moi comes off initially like a variant of the whole indie dance shtick: solo artist pumping out insistent beats, synths and laptop samples while dancing around stage, the music is as fierce as any of his peers and leaves no 4/4 stone unturned. But there’s a twist.  What elevates him above the chaff and detritus is both the subtlety and execution; the fact that he actually sings the featherweight and often soulful vocals and plays the synth lines to his own music makes all the difference.  As a result, Chaz Bundick is downright intimate with his music: the payoff is much bigger, the riffs more electric, and everything overflows with funky heart and dance-worthy soul.  Foot-tapping pop couched in lo-fi swirls often sampled on the fly, his set was a good benchmark for meaningful indie pop.

_MG_8905Headliner Islands carried the torch for interesting indie pop.  Nick Thorburn’s post-Unicorns project is every bit a mirror of the cantankerous, and often brilliant pop songwriter.  Touring behind their latest album Vapours, we find Islands’ has a scaled back live presence consistent with the paring back of their sound.  The stage was littered with as many synths as it had guitars, as opposed to the array of instruments found in previous live shows.  Ever the dramatic egoist, Thorburn posed on stage, alternating between brooding and whimsy, in a glinting, sequined cape.  Luckily for him, his moody, over-the-top showmanship proved a perfect foil to the inspired pop that Islands craft: intricately layered guitar and synth melodies with bittersweet vocals that go straight for the musical jugular turned out a brilliant showing of complex pop.

The true treat of the night however, was the screaming dervish known as Jemina Pearl.  The pint-sized ex-lead singer for Be Your Own Pet tore her way through a set of tunes that sits fondly at that evolutionary branching point of garage and punk.  With boundless energy, surprisingly punchy vocals, and a taut backing band, she bested the other two acts of the night, and upturned the indie pop theme.  Though replete with big riffs that wouldn’t be out of place in a pop song, the crunch and distortion applied to the songs live leaves no question that Jemina is still a piss and vinegar, garage and punk rock girl.  The more subdued and varied vocals on recently released debut (Break It Up) are a distant memory, as Pearl wails and screams into the mic possessed.  So it would seem that the reports that Pearl’s solo act may be tamed are a bit off point.  Her set left you dizzy with glee, fuzzy in the ears, and gasping for more.

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