Sunset Rubdown Lees Palace, Toronto ON October 13
Published Oct 14, 2008In between Wolf Parade jaunts and recording sessions, Spencer Krug a time manager of fascist proportions and his Sunset Rubdown cohorts slotted in a brief tour. Road-testing songs from an in-progress LP and throwing in old favourites, the five-piece deftly sewed together disparate threads. The result was raucously compelling, surprisingly cohesive, and really, really loud.
While fledgling selections boasted Sunset trademarks (i.e. dissimilar allusions made harmonious, lasagne-style instrumental layering and unhinged vocals), they also showed off an atypical ease of accessibility.
Beginning with a nocturne that would keep even narcoleptics awake, the band delivered an artillery-style barrage of percussion. Though tryptophan-addled, the taciturn crowd finally came to life for mid-set standout, the tentatively titled "You Go on Ahead. Throughout, tribal drums flirted with Camilla Wynn Ingrs coy keyboard as Krugs marching rhythm guitar duelled with Jordan Robson-Cramers creepy high-pitched lead. The result was exhausting but stirring.
"You go on Ahead and the still-evolving "Idiot Heart employed a more straight-ahead rock paradigm than most Sunset compositions, yet they congruently slid into the set-list. "Idiot Heart in particular provided a welcome salve for the near-constant orgy of explosions that preceded it.
Regardless of unexpected tangents (a glockenspiel here, a Wreckless Eric guitar riff there), Krugs paradoxically volatile-but-deliberate voice centred the proceedings, holding musical flights of fancy together. Similarly, his bands purposeful interactions provided meticulous checks and balances. "Shut Up I am Dreaming of Places Where Lovers Have Wings toed a line between strident drumming and a subdued bass while gothic lullaby, "Stallion, buoyed Krugs opaque lyrics with a haunting keyboard.
Penultimate pre-encore track, "Dragon (tentatively named by blogging conjecturers), began with measured handclaps and sweet piano taps before surrendering to dirge-ing guitars and sprawling drums. Throughout, Ingrs sweet background vocals tempered Krugs sky-scraping wail (think late period Xiu Xiu), easing the songs stand-offish rhythmic salvos. In an evening of complex cohesion, it was an appositely placed epic.