Published Oct 14, 2016The cozy Garrison was host to a particularly stacked tour package from the U.S. last night (October 13), consisting of Wildhoney, Field Mouse and headliners Cymbals Eat Guitars.
Around 9 p.m., Wildhoney took the stage with a full-throttle blast of groovy, shoegaze-y psychedelia. The only light came from a projector bathing the band in colourful, abstract visualizations. The reverb-y vocals and loud guitars were pretty typical of their genre, but the bassist seemed almost comatose, gazing at the ceiling expressionlessly. In contrast, the guitarists were rocking emphatically, and despite vocalist Lauren Shusterich's mid-set admission that she had strep throat and a fever, she still toughed it out and sang well (though, due to reverb, none of the words were decipherable anyway). Generally it was all pretty pleasant sounding, if mushy, but they ended their set strongly with a slow-burning ballad that built up vocal loops and ended with a big noise jam.
Field Mouse immediately came off more refined, with clear and energetic vocals and a bit less instrumental volume, which allowed for a better mix. They opened with the wonderfully catchy indie rock riffage of "The Mirror," and their dynamic structures stood out. They charmingly joked about Canada's free healthcare, telling Lauren of Wildhoney to "walk into a place" and just say "help me." On "Half-Life," the opening guitar tones had a cool, clear post-rock tinge that contrasted well with the rocking chorus belted by singer/guitarist Rachel Browne. Their dynamic arrangements helped distinguish their songs from each other, and their presence was enchanting.
Cymbals Eat Guitars set up quickly with a relatively sparse lineup of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, but they definitely packed a punch. They opened with the angular and upbeat "Place Names" from 2014's LOSE, with a capo on the bass (unusual!) and a cool drum groove with maraca/shaker on the rim of the snare (neat!). They followed up with "Finally," the chunky and explosive opener to 2016's Pretty Years. From then on, it was a slew of powerful and moving cuts, mostly from those two most recent albums, with lead singer/guitarist Joseph D'Agostino attacking both his vocal parts and his guitar with equal ferocity.
They blazed through the highly entertaining "4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)" and then D'Agostino fake-introduced the next song, saying only "this song is called…" before going right into the lead guitar riff of "Warning." "Mallwalking" was just as melancholic as the album version, but with noisier live guitar covering all the same weird sounds from the recording.
The crowd was treated mid-set to the Modest Mouse-ish "And the Hazy Sea" from their debut album, Why There Are Mountains. Pretty Years highlight "Wish," normally spiced up by a walloping saxophone on the album, saw that same part played by keyboards, and the overall onstage personality more than made up for the changed instrumentation.
D'Agostino gave a particularly intense and noisy performance, even if the ferocity of older songs made the newer, poppier ones seem like putting a leash on a wild animal. After more hits and a pummelling noise jam to close the set, he came back for a solo encore performance of "Child Bride" from LOSE, proving that all punks grow up sooner or later, and wearing his maturity well.