Sweeping Promises Burned Through the Apathy in Toronto

The Garrison, August 15

with Special Delivery and not a band

BY Kaelen BellPublished Aug 16, 2023

The Garrison was respectably attended but not packed, the air warm but not hot, the energy palpable but not necessarily electric — it was a middle-tone, Tuesday night vibe if there ever was one. It helped then, that the music being performed on stage was caustic enough to burn off that layer of apathetic residue, peeling away the quietude in great, flailing bursts of sound. 

Performing prior to headliners Sweeping Promises, the members of not a band circled the stage like some impish and vaguely dangerous circus act, switching instruments, roles and energies with abandon. Their funk-infused post-punk was confronting and joyful, with smiles dancing across their faces throughout. It was a freewheeling, calamitous scene-setter for Sweeping Promises' blade-like concision. 

Performing songs largely pulled from this year's excellent Good Living Is Coming for You, Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug — with drummer Spenser Gralla — delivered a fatless set that condensed the previous band's enormous energy into a tiny, purposeful diamond. The trio were generally quiet and reserved, with Mondal cracking a few jokes and talking tour life between tracks, thanking Toronto profusely for having them — and recommending Montreal's Bar le Ritz for anyone heading that way. 

Most of the focus seemed reserved for the songs — Shnug is an endlessly inventive guitar player, and his wiggling, bendy stage presence was a lively contrast to Mondal's crackling intensity. Growling, chirping, shrieking and launching into her upper register with abandon, Mondal's fearless vocal performance — and her anvil-drop, melodic bass playing — were the anchors of the show, oscillating between playful vocal curlicues and searing, energy-beam intensity. Songs like "Good Living Is Coming for You," "Walking in Place," "Petit Four," "Can't Hide It" and "Pain Without a Touch" burned like flying embers — though it was sometimes hard not to miss the keyboards and other additional instruments that colour their recorded versions — and Mondal's voice is even more powerful in person than it is careening from your earphones. 

Yes, it was late on a Tuesday night, and yes, it was raining on the walk home — but Sweeping Promises delivered enough skin-prickling electricity to make the endeavour feel worthwhile. 

Latest Coverage