Published Feb 15, 2014Marnie Stern broke a lot of hearts this Valentine's Day when she cancelled her headlining Wavelength slot (her flight was one of thousands grounded by the ongoing polar vortex plaguing Eastern North America). A clutch of locals stepped up, proving that events like Wavelength need not rely on out-of-towners to stack their bills.
After well-received sets from Matrox and Most People, Weaves added to the list of MIA musicians, setting up without their drummer. Relying on a drum machine, the three piece laid down a solid set of funky noise, ensuring that anyone in attendance unfamiliar with the group wouldn't even blink about their missing beat-keeper. Its mechanical precision was the perfect anchor for their sonic experimentalism, and Jasmyn Burke, who once fronted Rattail, proved to be an amiable front woman when freed from guitar duties, climbing the speaker stacks in between Karen O-esque yelps.
Odonis Odonis offered a more straightforward rock approach during their set. But after years of playing sets through muddy sound systems the three-piece, led by Dean Tzenos, finally found a venue able to pull its hook laden-music out of the murk. The band were as energetic as ever, but the clean sound allowed them to showcase their multiple stylistic personalities, from '80s noise-rock to the groovy-post punk of "Better." Put these guys in the studio with the right producer, and you've got one amazing record-in-waiting.
DIANA have found themselves on a lot of bills in town over the past year, but their ubiquity didn't spoil their impromptu headlining slot. "Let's get desperately drunk on music," said frontwoman Carmen Elle, who was magnetic onstage as always. Wearing a blue ball cap with "Handsome" stitched across the front and a dark leather jacket, she led the band through tracks from their debut, Perpetual Surrender, kicking off their set with standout "Strange Attraction." Watching their live evolution over the past year has been a real treat, particularly when they stretch out musically. Elle dedicated the album's title track to a fan in front who sang along with every word before capping the night with "Born Again."
While there's no doubt Stern would have put on a tremendous show, there was no sense of absence or anti-climax by show's end. Toronto stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park.
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