I Am Spoonbender / We Are Wolves / The Unicorns

La Sala Rossa, Montreal QC - May 7, 2003

BY Lorraine CarpenterPublished Jun 1, 2003

This triple bill offered a morsel to nearly every electro taste, with three divergent takes on synthesised music. Opening the show were two charming local duos playing yin to the other's yang. The Unicorns, dressed in white and pink, played sweet pop ditties, offered (Canadian Tire) cash to potential dancers, aped guitar heroics on keytar and generally goofed around in Anglo indie rocker fashion. We Are Wolves were next and these black-clad Francophones from the glam scene were deftly riff-rocking on guitar and keys, and singing through that classic electro device, a vocoder. San Francisco's "futurist art pop" quartet, I Am Spoonbender filled the stage with dry ice, which was set up with three synths, two unusual drum kits, two colourfully lit screens and a pair of vintage telephones the singers used as mics. With her sharp diagonal hair, dagger eyes and generally severe demeanour, Robynn Iwata is clearly no longer Cub's nerdy girl. Her lightweight band-mate Dustin Donaldson took turns behind both drum kits, a big, fat phone somehow securely clipped to his belt as he hopped about. But apart from the showy manoeuvring — did I mention the tear-away costume change, the strobe lights, the blackout and the glowing drumsticks? — I Am Spoonbender's set was steeped in atmosphere. With their weighty droning synths smoothly segueing into danceable tunes and back again, their sound and manner was devoid of the rock templates used by the other bands, partly due to their "no guitars" policy. Theirs was a well-rounded and synth savvy theatrical show. And there's a concept album/DVD around the corner. Figures.

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