The Fiery Furnaces / Cryptacize El Mocambo, Toronto, ON November 7

The Fiery Furnaces / Cryptacize El Mocambo, Toronto, ON November 7

As a thin crowd finally began to thicken, California twee poppers Cryptacize took the stage to woo the crowd with their clean staccato guitars and breezy rhythms. The band evoked the squeaky-clean sound of '60s girl groups (albeit without the overflow of style and grace) and played a set that was pleasant enough not to drag, but didn't stun either.

The Fiery Furnaces' performance could be summed up in two words: passionate and precise. The band - siblings Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger, plus a bassist and drummer - seemed fired up as they took to the stage and ingeniously changed the structure, key, tempo and time signature on nearly every track they played.

They began the show by slipping into a newly slowed-down stomping groove of I'm Going Away highlight "Charmaine Champagne" - a boppy, mid-tempo number on record that was punctuated on stage by an outright punk chorus played in double-time - and changed the time signature on the lounge-y, piano-based track "Drive to Dallas" by adding two beats for every bar of the verse.

It was refreshing to hear the Furnaces put new spins on nearly every song from I'm Going Away (the band played more than half the album). The result was the live musical equivalent of channel surfing, except that four people were pressing the buttons at the exact same time, as a musical unit.

The Fiery Furnaces didn't engage much in stage banter, but their passionate and precise blend of genre, tempo, rhythm and key made better conversation with the crowd than their voices ever could.