Saturday was my first concert of 2014: Indie 88.1 FM’s Power Party. Held at Lee’s Palace, this event featured July Talk and Stars performing to a sold-out crowd. Tickets were very hard to come by and most people, including myself, had to win them.
The party was being thrown because Indie 88 was recently approved by the CRTC for a signal boost, meaning the station can now be heard in more of the GTA. Great news for them and even better news for local music fans. Like I’ve said before, I couldn’t be happier with what replaced my old employer, CKLN 88.1 FM.
Actually, I could be happier if Indie started regularly, or even just periodically, organizing shows like Saturday’s Power Party. I loved seeing Stars in such a intimate venue and while yeah, getting tickets was a bit of a pain, it certainly made me listen to the station at certain times of the day, in hopes of winning a pair. While I know that planning something like the Power Party isn’t easy or cheap, I have no doubt that it helped to grow that station’s audience, brand and community.
Stars were the night’s headliners but honestly, July Talk kicked their asses. Ok, yes, the Stars had some solid moments with such amazing songs as “Your Ex-Lover is Dead,” “Talk Me To The Riot” and “Elevator Love Letter.” But I was expecting that from them and, having seen Stars multiple times, I had experienced it all before. They also suffered from some sound issues, especially at the start, and more than a couple moments of well, boredom (yeah, the new stuff).
July Talk, on the other hand, were strong from start to finish. Lead singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay are absolutely mesmerizing to watch. Even the songs that I found sonically a bit dull were entertaining because of the way these two carried on on stage.
Now, I know that sometimes a band will use a strong stage presence to mask a weak sound that that’s not what was happening with July Talk. Not all can these guys perform, they can also play and in cozy, little Lee’s Palace, they sounded fantastic. I’ll admit that their sound, pretty-girl-vocals-meets-Tom-Waits-backed-by-Americana-influenced-guitar, isn’t quite my thing but I completely get why others like them and actually, I found myself liking a few of their tracks. “Let Her Know” in particular screams success to me, though it does sound fairly different from the band’s first mini-hit “Guns + Ammunition.”
Stars played some new stuff and told us that they’re working on a new album but really, I’m more interested in seeing what July Talk does next. This band appears to have all of the ingredients to achieve Metric-level success (yes, that’s a good thing). Also, they really impressed me by working their merch table for a bit after their set. Peter and Leah chatted with fans, posed for photos and overall did something that every single, young band should be doing.
Besides music, the Power Party also featured free t-shirts, free posters and the chance to talk with your favourite Indie 88 personalities. The music started at around 10:15 and was all wrapped up by 1:30, just in time to catch the subway home.
Oh, because I know that some of you are wondering this, yes, Edge 102 did sort of come up. Just before Stars came on, all of Indie 88’s on-air staff lined up on stage and were introduced by Alan Cross. Since close to half (maybe more?) of the staffers worked at the Edge at some point, the station was alluded to though never named. Some on stage always called out “the spirit of radio.” Then, near the start of Stars set, singer Torquil Campbelle, mentioned how Indie 88 doesn’t feature any “homophobic DJs.” Though I guess neither does the Edge.
Overall, it was a great night and one that I really hope is repeated (and if the station needs help with these kinds of things, my former music industry employee-self is available for hire).
Now on a random side note, what is with those giant Samsung phones? Why do people use those things? I saw several on Saturday night and they look so big and awkward. If you’re a girl, you’d always have to bring your big bag for the thing to live in while if you’re guy, I guess you have to wear cargo pants in order to provide it a home.
Also, those phones allow for zero privacy. I wasn’t even trying to read someone’s text message but I saw them anyway, along with photos and Facebook feeds. Plus because they’re bigger, they’re brighter than your typical phone and so it’s harder to ignore them in a dark environment (thankfully people weren’t using them as a camera; that would be only one step down from taking pictures at a show with a tablet). I don’t get… Maybe they’re cheap?