Published Jun 16, 2009Prepping up for a highly-anticipated North by Northeast performance at the Velvet Underground, Toronto's the Ghost is Dancing (pictured) bring their darling live show to Zaphod Beeblebrox on the Capital's first warm Saturday night of the year. Ottawa six-piece Blazer opened the show in good spirits, grinding through a set of faceless workman-like alt-rock that would have probably played better to modern rock radio listeners than the CBC Radio 3 supporters in attendance. After a set of faux-impassioned vocals and pretty boy rhythms, Ottawa's the Urban Aesthetics took to the stage. Vocalist Greg Janssen's timid deliveries were skilfully punched-up in a live setting thanks to the bona fide bouncy performance from the seven-piece band. Accompanied by backup vocalist Jen Rouse's melody-first accompaniment, the Urban Aesthetics come off more like a pre-Nirvana college rock outfit than a post-Broken Social Scene clone, creating a sound fairly refreshing and novel.
Playing after 10 pm, The Ghost is Dancing welcomed a crowd who now seemed looser and ready to get this party started. Unfortunately, free from Chris Stringer's dense production, material from the Ghost is Dancing's sophomore LP, Battles On, sounds surprisingly uneventful within a live setting. A late set cover of TLC's "Waterfalls" featured more tongue than cheek vocals from Jamie Matechuk and not even ironically interesting rapping from back-up vocalist Lesley Davies. While most cover songs come from an adoration of the stock material, the Ghost is Dancing's version seemed more stunt than ode. Wrapping up the show sweaty and partially shirtless, the Ghost is Dancing unquestionably bring a certain joy and liveliness to their performance, despite the quality of their new material. Sounding like a band who would rather emulate what is good about Canadian indie rock than contribute, the crowd's limp reaction may have proved something that the album could not; nobody's favourite band is the Ghost is Dancing.
Photograph taken by Daniel Sylvester.