Astral Swans Cameron House, Toronto ON, May 8

Astral Swans Cameron House, Toronto ON, May 8
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
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"I'm kinda nervous as fuck," announced Matthew Swann as he took the stage. "Please be gentle." Best known for his role in Calgary's Extra Happy Ghost, Swann has ventured out on his own as Astral Swans. A more than competent performer, Swann's nervousness was no doubt the product of his audience, a small but influential contingent of Canadian indie-rock cognoscenti, including his sort-of boss Dan Mangan, who signed Swann as the "flagship act" for his fledgling Madic Records.

Playing an Epiphone semi-hollow body and wearing a black hoodie fully zipped, hood on, Swann shook off his anxieties throughout his performance, dedicating songs to fallen friends like Chris Weimer of Women and heroes like Jam Master Jay. While the songs are quite stunning, the stark performance belied the more full-bodied performances already on display on Astral Swans' debut seven-inch. Consequently, there was a sameness to many of the tracks. Still, Swann's coming out party, as it were, was a resounding success.