Ehab shares some drawings he made at Hillside Festival last weekend, between volunteer shifts. When I asked him if he had any highlights from the fest, he answered getting to see Feist play as a part of super-group Hydra was definitely a nice surprise. So was getting asked by Alvvays midset, about the drawings he was making.
If you haven’t bumped into us at a show, you may not have realized that we actually make these drawings live during the musical performances (although we admittedly add some finishing touches after the fact). It leads to some interesting reactions from the audience, and sometimes even the bands we draw. Usually at least once a set, someone comments on the art we’re making while we watch the performance and it leads to a conversation about music. And art. And that is exactly the point.
Back in Toronto we’re just tying up some loose ends, and getting ready to go on another road trip. We’re waking up early, and starting our drive down to Sackville, New Brunswick for Sappyfest. We’ll be taking the scenic route, with some stops in Quebec on the way there and back. Time to dust off my rusty French. We’ll probably be incommunicado for about a week, after which we’ll have a ton of new drawings to post- and maybe some stories about the inappropriate things that young people do at music festivals too!
It’s Saturday night, and I’m almost at the venue when I bump into a co-worker from last summer’s day job. He’s just finished his shift and he has no plans for the evening, so he asks me where I’m going. “The Comfort Zone,” I tell him. Are you serious? “Yeah, there’s a really cool show. You wanna come?” No, he admits, and gives me a bit of a stern look.
But if these are the kind of reactions a night at the Comfort Zone garners, I’m not particularly disturbed. The quest for truly incredible experimental music takes you to some unusual locales at times, and fortune favours the bold. And so following the tip of a friend, I walk down the steps into the notorious venue.
The inside of the Comfort Zone is really dark, and really loud- especially with the 4 members of Cellphone on stage. The band has been a highlight of my NXNE experience the past 2 years- so I’m pretty stoked to see them on what is already a pretty stacked bill. At least as far as my personal taste goes, Cellphone hit the trifecta of musical ingredients- punk, psychedelic, and synth. The boys look like an electronic act, but sound like hardcore music for stoners. It’s a winning combo that I’d like to hear more of.
The psychedelic seems to be the overarching theme of the music curation tonight. TONSTARTSSBANDHT are 2 brothers transplanted from Florida, to Brooklyn and Montreal- who make a style of music they call “boogie rock”. While we’re doing the genre thing I’d like to add the following adjectives; psych pop/ psych hymns. Of the 3 bands I see (I didn’t arrive in time for the opener)- TONSTARTSSBANDHT probably come the closest to what you imagine when you think about psychedelic rock, in the style of baby boomer dad rock. There’s even a delightful Southern twang that’s reminiscient of oldschool American rock- but with a heavy undercurrent of dreamy, devotional distortion. It tickles me as much to watch brothers Edwin and Andy perform, as it does to listen to them. I am pretty excited about that 12 string guitar that Andy plays, and the energetic way with which he handles it. I could happily watch this all night.
If TONSTARTSSBANDHT are psychedelic in a classic rock way, then locals Doldrums are mind-bending in a way that is completely contemporary. Musically, the youthful trio walk a fine line between light and darkness, and are appropriately named after the “colorless place” of the same name in “The Phantom Tollbooth”. Their set is a loopy, acidic blend of dance punk and noise, sounding at times chillwavey. The ephemeral, and darkly danceable music feels perfectly at home in this seedy, subterranean dance pit. The hype doesn’t disappoint, as all the elements really come together on this one, to pull a dance catharsis out of the shadows.
Taking into account my considerable bias towards experimental and psychedelic forms of music, this will definitely ranks as one of the more memorable shows I’ve seen this summer.
As for the pictures, I tended towards unrestrained colour sketches, pouring out of dark ink washes which I applied at home after the show. The sketches were made using Sharpie markers and ballpoint pen.
here are a couple of images of what I got up to in around town, while Ehab is away at Hillside Fest in Guelph:
the first was drawn at the first ever Homegrown Sound Session, and pictures members of Hands & Teeth playing in the open air at Christie Pits Park.
the second was done later in the evening at Construction- Long Winter’s new (and much more condensed) summer series. the event was held at DBL DBL Land, which as it turns out is unbearably hot in the summer. couldn’t convince my friends to stay, but I did get one nice scribble of Elsa before jetting out into the night.
some drawings from Field Trip Discovery Series III, which was held at the Garrison on Thursday, July 24.
check out this poster design I made for the first ever Homegrown Sound Session. the series promotes nature through music, and is presented in partnership with Homegrown National park & the David Suzuki Foundation.
the first session is tonight @ 7 in Christie Pits Park, and features live music by Hands & Teeth.
this poster was made using ballpoint pen, coloured illustration ink, and photoshop.
#Iwanttodrawyourband is on tour for the next 10 days, drawing shows across Eastern & Central Canada.
Ehab will be in Guelph this weekend sketching Hillside Music Festival.
Meanwhile back in Toronto, I’ll be covering a couple of shows locally- including some ongoing summer music series.
Then next week Ehab & I will be hitting the road, and driving to Sackville, New Brunswick to provide coverage of Sappyfest 9. We’re taking the “scenic route”, with stops for live music planned in Quebec City & Montreal along the way.
This is going to be the most intense round of #Iwanttodrawyourband yet. A real test of a party endurance to be sure. You can bet there’s going to be an #Iwanttodrawyourband on tour zine to follow.
Here are some images Ehab & I made at the Champion Lover’s Album Release Party at Sneaky Dees, on Friday July 18th, 2014. We decided to try something different, and collaborated on the drawing of the headlining band.
On the self-titled LP the local noise punk band is moody, distorted, a little heavy, and at times downright grungy. The turbulent album feels like a storm brewing, but isn’t without some pop sensibilities. There’s a catchiness in the dissonance that has me coming back for more. On the album’s stand out track “She Likes Wu-Tang”, the band draws comparison to early (more punk rock) Nirvana. However the similarities dissipate live. The band has a pretty slick look in contrast to their sludgy sound. They also seem to have their own devoted set of fans, who sing a European football style cheer for them when they take to, and leave the stage. Overall, it’s a solid record with little (if any) fat to trim. I imagine that it would sound very good hissing and popping on vinyl.