By Ian GormelyAnyone wondering how Daps Records so quickly gathered international buzz around its burgeoning roster need only have witnessed this show. The label -- run by Ian Chai, along with Hooded Fang's Daniel Lee and April Aliermo -- has rekindled Toronto's DIY spirit, producing and releasing records from their friends and like-minded artists.
After L Con opened the night, former Spiral Beach members Maddy Wilde and Daniel Woodhead took the stage as Moon King. Woodhead opened their set, back turned to the crowd singing a Peter Gabriel-esque version of "Walk on By." With Wilde on guitar and Woodhead playing a tom and snare drum while triggering beats and samples, they delivered a tight set of tracks off an upcoming album that matched the Jesus & Mary Chain's swagger with the shimmering shoegaze of Lush, quickly finding a groove that Spiral Beach always lacked. Their energy and charisma was palpable, and the anthemic nature of so many of their songs made it very easy to imagine the duo playing much further up the bill soon.
Woodhead remained onstage for his brother Airick's solo project Doldrums, who quickly shot to indie notoriety through their split single with England's Portishead. With Daniel on keyboards and a live drummer, they worked through the chopped and sampled grooves of Doldrums' debut, Empire Sound. Recalling Primal Scream's dubbiest moments tossed into a blender, Airick proved to be a formidable frontman, and their set, backed a pastiche of video images projected onto the stage, captured the groove and hedonistic spirit of acid house's halcyon days.
Hooded Fang felt like the night's de facto headliners; the longest running of the Daps roster, the band already have a pair of records under their belt. But a massive lineup shift (they've downsized from eight members to four) and an abandoning of their original glock rock sound in favour of surf-inspired garage has alienated some of their original fan base. Ignoring their debut, Album, the band played a tight set that on most other bills would have been a triumph. But the songs didn't quite transcend the '60s garage trappings and lacked the enthusiasm of the night's earlier performances even if Hooded Fang's trademark hooky songcraft remained.
After an extra long break, Phèdre marked their debut performance by literally emerging from the womb of a digital projection of Monty Python's the Meaning of Life on their massive handmade screen. The trio unites Lee and Aliermo with Airick Woodhead in a sleazy and decadent take on electro pop. Throughout their quick set, they were flanked by an entourage of courtesans covered in gold who performed purposely stiff dance routines while similarly garbed performers threw feathers and gold-glitter-filled condoms into the audience. At times, the performance threatened to overshadow the music itself, but their final track "In Decay" proved that Phèdre are more than an excuse to wear gold lamé, as half the crowd joined the band onstage to close the night in a glitter-covered haze.