Last night, Toronto dark new age trio Doomsquad held their official release show for Kalaboogie, their long-awaited debut LP. The sibling trio of Allie, Jaclyn, and Trevor Blumas started their loud, thumping, hypnotizing set a little after 1am, following an excellent lineup that included HSY, Petra Glynt, Moonwood and Mass Aya. When Trevor thanked the audience during Doomsquad's set, he said they had "all of their favourite bands" play the show, and that characterized the whole night's vibe. This was as much a celebration of the new LP as a community event for Toronto's burgeoning, highly innovative electro/DIY scene.
The show took place in The Comfort Zone, the sprawling, cave-like venue underneath The Silver Dollar Room and the Waverly Hotel that holds after-hours parties. As Doomsquad member Trevor Blumas put it, "This is one of those places that everyone has heard of but no one has been to, or no one remembers going to." It was, in fact, the perfect venue for a band that often plays late-night loft shows and puts on multimedia performances with projections and stage decorations.
The night kicked into high gear when Petra Glynt took the stage for her opening set, surrounded by her characteristic metallic collages and bathed in glitchy projections. With a voice powerful enough to cut through any mix, she sang and chanted over loops and samples and pounded out the beat on a floor tom. She channeled old, dark folk music over the cacophony of sound, her melodies carrying a haunted timelessness. "This stuff is so noisy!" she quipped at one point, offering an inviting sense of humour for anyone who found her work too abrasive.
HSY played next at the other end of the venue (The Comfort Zone is big enough for two stages) and blasted through a set of short punk/industrial songs. They were a bit of a jarring departure from the other acts, but no less awesome in their visceral and intense performance.
Doomsquad took the opposite stage shortly after, and slowly, with drones carrying them forward, eased into a set that included songs from the new LP, their EPs and a couple new pieces. "We're just going to ride this vibe all night," Trevor said after a few songs, reasserting the after-hours party feel of the show. With him in the middle playing guitar and samplers, flanked by his sisters on electronics and, occasionally, flute and egg shaker, the trio bobbed and swayed through one hypnotizing song after another. That word, "hypnotizing," is not used lightly; Doomsquad's minimal beats and howling, ritualistic vocals are dreamlike and trance-inducing, broken only occasionally by a sudden change in rhythm or, as on "Waka," Trevor's screams.
For all their decorum, Doomsquad are not a flashy band, and that's where their talent shines through: they compose simple, repetitive songs that seem much more complex than they are. Where a lesser band would make forgettable dark dance jams, Doomsquad open up a whole universe with every song.
They stretched out live staples like "Ovoo" and "Disremember/Dismemberment" well beyond their running time on the album, showing they are most comfortable when in the act of creating. This is one of the reasons why Doomsquad's previous EPs were frustrating for fans: they were good, but didn't properly capture the band's live shows or their ability to make music in the moment.
Their revelatory new LP comes closer to achieving this than anything they have released so far, and it deserves widespread listening and appreciation, but it's still just an entry point to Doomsquad's immense talent. Last night reasserted the vitality of their live shows and proved, once again, that Doomsquad are among the best performers in Canadian indie.