New York, New York

October 19 to 22

By Chuck Molgat, Elizabeth Bridge, Patrick Lejtenyi, Rob Krause

Fresh-faced Scottish pop quartet Astrid ran through a 45-minute set of catchy, jangly guitar-pop tunes from their forthcoming Tony Doogan-produced sophomore CD with charm and aplomb, apparently surprising themselves in the process. -CM

The Bellrays are not into fucking around. They tore through a 45-minute set without any pauses between songs and with barely enough time to exhort the crowd into righteous, hell-bent fury. Using their twin weapons, rock and soul, to their teeth-shattering maximum, the Bellrays’ intimidating presence and no-quarter aggression hammered away at all concepts of musical compromise. With nods to the MC5 and the Who, the Bellrays bring fear and awe into the power of soul. -PL

Bettie Serveert
These Dutch devotees of the Velvet Underground may have had their day in the eyes of some, but singer and guitarist Carol van Dijk has one of the most distinct and powerful voices in rock today, and it was in good form on this night, as was the band's cheerful demeanour as they joked between songs and blasted through a set of songs culled mostly from their latest CD Private Suit. -EB

Big Lazy
Big Lazy mentioned that someone described their sound as “music to drive to jail by.” Similar in concept and sound to Calexico and the Delmarva Scheme, their music is both highly evocative and mellow — pent-up moodiness tempered with resigned melodrama. Guitarist Stephen Ulrich led the slow-moving tempo through the swamps and urban jungles of cine-musica, introducing each new tune with a soft-spoken, almost whispered, breeze of a voice. -PL

Cave In plays with an intensity that makes you lose yourself in the beauty of what rock can be. Picture “Dazed and Confused” played with more power and aggression; bass, drums and guitars barrelling out sounds in every way possible, from swinging instruments against hips, head and heart to attacking all three with flashing toy laser guns. Rock is alive and well. Embrace it unconditionally. -RK


Toronto’s Fembots bolstered their two-man, guitars, keys and tape loops routine with a pair of guests: Weakerthans drummer Jason Tait (playing saw) and expat Winnipeg violinist Julie Penner. A liberally reworked cover of the Weakerthans‚ “Illustrated Bible Stories for Children” served as a show-ending highlight, with an automated Teddy Ruxpin doll aping along to John K. Samson’s sampled vocals. -CM

Despite their 20-plus years playing punk rhythm and blues garage rock, the Fleshtones have lost nothing in onstage energy and crowd-pleasing antics. Electrifying, entertaining and always putting on a good drum-balancing performance, the Fleshtones haven’t lost a thing that made them as fun in 1978 as they are today. -PL


Atlanta’s Forty-Fives offered a blistering, sweat-soaked set of ‘60s stomp-fuelled rockers that threatened to peel the decades of filth and tattered gig posters off of CBGB’s unkempt walls. A lively cover of Otis Redding’s “Shake” proved the right balance of style, confidence, energy and chops can carry a retro-cognisant band beyond the doldrums of gimmickry and into the realm of fresh and relevant rock’n’roll. -CM

Huevos Rancheros
Canada’s own Huevos Rancheros — old friends churning out Western surf/punk instrumental hit after hit. The Huevos, though, didn’t seem to give it their all, and the shamefully sparse crowd seemed politely quiet, although appreciative. Using their tried and true Ventures/Shadows/Dick Dale routine, the Huevos pushed their newest release, Wild Turkey Surprise in their familiar rock’n’roll rhythm craziness. –PL

Jimmy Eat World
Focussing little on older material, singer James Adkins led the band through a set consisting of a mix of songs from Clarity and a number of new, unreleased tracks. The dynamic scope of the standard rock band was strained to its limits, all showcased on an incredible sound system. -RK

Sharon Jones and the Soul Providers
Belting out Motown-era soul and decked out in stylish, matching suits, Sharon Jones and the Soul Providers provided a tight, silky-smooth debut performance. The band, formerly the legendary Daptones, tapped into the hidden love of ballsy, sexy soul. Sharon Jones’s deep, powerful vocals, backed up by a band that could sweep away any lingering doubts on authenticity or impeccable understanding of the style, swam over the enthusiastic crowd, who devoured it. -PL

King Cobb Steelie
The constant din seemed to rattle the band for the first few songs of the hour-long set, which was largely devoted to songs from the new disc Mayday, but the distractions were soon forgotten. Guest vocalist Tamara Williamson provided guitar, rounding out the band's signature hypnotic sound. -EB

The subway series dominated as Kurt Wagner gave score updates between every song of the 40-minute set, composed mainly of the Nashville band's most recent release, Nixon. A dozen people, including a four-piece horn section, crowded the stage, and the result was a loose, relaxed and altogether enjoyable show. -EB

The Lilys blew large, incongruous chunks, as if they’d never performed together before. A far cry from the smart, clean melodic-pop of the band’s recordings, this show fell into discordant shambles and remained in the muddled gutter throughout. Clearly aware things were sucking hard, Deming clowned about anxiously between songs, making faces and giving his faux-British accent a workout before ultimately bidding adieu with the ominous, “We’ll see you again soon under completely different circumstances.” -CM

Of Montreal

Of Montreal
By the time Kevin Barnes finally took the reigns it was 3:30 a.m. and many of the faithful were dead on their feet. Even so, the crowd managed to give it up as the band put in a tight, surprisingly energetic set complete with on-stage theatrics by Barnes’s hyperactive brother David. –CM

Paris Texas
Paris Texas’s vocalist Scott Sherpe is a front-man who demands attention. Convulsing body movements and rafter swings into the crowd set the baseline as the band followed Sherpe through an animated set that had the entire crowd jumping along. -RK

Pedro the Lion
Simple and stripped-down is what David Bazan does best, and on this night the Pedro the Lion front-man was in fine spartan form. Backed only by his suitably unobtrusive rhythm section, Bazan emoted his way through a solid set of subtly brilliant material. -CM

Centred around John Mueller’s amazing drumming, Pele’s song structure is built so that Mueller can essentially do anything he wants, at anytime he wants to. At times, guitarist Chris Roseneau and bassist Matt Tennessen were as unsure and excited as the crowd were as to the direction that Mueller was going to take them. -RK

Pernice Brothers
Joe Pernice and company didn’t disappoint with a set that drew from material both old and new, featuring selections from the PB’s debut release, a couple from their forthcoming sophomore disc, a track by alter-ego unit Chappaquiddick Skyline and even an old Scud Mountain Boys ditty. Former Jale/Vees members Laura Stein and Mike Belitsky provided some Canadian content to the rich, melodic fold. -CM

In light of their recent live album, and anticipating another album early next year, meaning little new material, the show was almost anti-climactic. Singer/keyboardist Vic Ruggiero’s scorching exhortation against Republicans Giuliani and Dubya the Half-Wit were acts of pure patriotism and civic virtue though, and provided much mirth for a dense crowd. -PL

Teenage Frames
This Chicago/Los Angeles blues-garage rock band was in prime form, shaking their hips, rattling their teeth and rolling their wrists to some outstanding high-octane music. And those magnificent striped pants! Using the Clash and the MC5 as elements and the New York Dolls as a catalyst, the Frames are pretty much guaranteed to knock the tar out of the Brits. -PL

Hailing from the deep South’s grand metropolis, Atlanta GA, the X-Impossibles unleashed an action-packed, high-energy performance blazing with the hot-tempered passion of the South. Jumping into the crowd and thrashing wildly about onstage, singer Tim Lumley rocked the crowd from Richmond to the Rio Grande and back again. –PL