Published May 14, 2013Trevor Powers and Devon Welsh are an odd pairing, not because their respective acts, Youth Lagoon and Majical Cloudz, aren't a fitting match on a bill, but because both of them are odd guys. In a good way, of course, that translates into something powerfully empathetic and intimate, which Torontonians needed quite frankly after that Leafs game, which Powers apologized profusely for during his set. "I'm really sorry that you guys lost, if anyone here cares," he'd say. People cared, but the music eased the blow a little.
After a short delay Monday night at the Great Hall, opener Majical Cloudz took to the stage. Majical Cloudz have grown significantly in size and recognition in the past year, having added second member Matthew Otto and signed to Matador for their upcoming release, Impersonator. Musically, though, Welsh still maintains a simplicity that's equal parts strange and fascinating to watch. On record, listeners are presented with chillingly smooth arrangements — mostly created on Welsh's laptop — and are easily shipped into a sea of ambience. Onstage, though, Welsh (with Otto silently by his side) evokes an aggressively emotional persona that hammers in every note with determination and precision. The sternness of his performance is offset by his charismatic banter, though, whether he was giving away used plastic plates, asking audience members to sit onstage with him or repeatedly asking for the lights to dim even darker to avoid having his face shown ("my face is just distracting," he joked). Welsh is an oddity to watch and hear, but it all comes together into an experience that draws you in for more.
Powers' musical beginnings also began in a confined, solitary space — alone in his bedroom. His first album, Hibernation, is an album that's shy in sound, but vast in sentiment, capturing the attention of music critics and fans alike. His follow-up album Wondrous Bughouse, as well as his live show evidently, has since blossomed into a bigger production that has layered on the sound and theatrics. Youth Lagoon is a full-on band that push Powers' emotive thoughts into a proper rock show that can only be described, based on Powers' stripped outfit, wild hair and the stage's colourful backdrop, as Tim Burton's world come to life — a very vibrant, bright life.
Whether hidden under dim lighting or vivaciously bursting with colours, it's palpable that both acts have channelled feelings into an infectiously captivating show for the senses. And just the warmth and musical hug we needed that night as we slept in our Leafs jerseys for the last time this season.