Rain Machine / Sharon Van Etten Lee's Palace, Toronto, ON October 19
Published Oct 20, 2009"I thought it was colder up here," Sharon Van Etten hypothesized in an attempt to explain the meagre 30-person crowd when she took the Lee's Palace stage. The club was bare, but if anything, it was to her advantage: her songs, played solo on a clean electric guitar, would likely have been drowned out by the conversations of a capacity crowd. Fortunately, her good humour and genuine appreciation for being where she was kept the crowd interested until the end of her half-hour set, despite all the mid-tempo, adult-contemporary-leaning ballads.
By the time TV on the Radio offshoot Rain Machine graced the stage, the crowd had grown to no more than a paltry 100 fans - all of whom were treated to one of the great under-the-radar shows of the year. Apparently, only the diehards came out to see Kyp Malone and company; everyone in attendance knew all the lyrics, many of them jerking and swaying along to the soul-baring catharsis happening on stage.
Malone was a captivating figure, a soul man possessed as he channelled his sadness, love and rage into an engaging re-enactment of Rain Machine's recently released self-titled debut. The band's stirring performance brought the album to life by throwing the songs in a new and bewitching light, and was punctuated by the versatility of Malone's voice, which shifted effortlessly from a quiet whisper to resonant baritone to gentle, full-bodied falsetto and harrowing wail.
There was nary a mention of TV on the Radio, much less a performance of one of their songs. Instead, Malone opted to stay true to his Rain Machine craft, and the emotional connection it made with his most dedicated fans was well worth the trip.