by carl wilson

Kelly Hogan Underappreciation Night

If this post seems a little sluggish, it's for noble reasons - after being out till 5:30 in the a.m. seeing Neko Case and the Sadies's second night of afterhours performance at the Matador, on Dovercourt just north of College.

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If you're not from Toronto, you probably don't know the Matador, but it's a deservedly legendary landmark of night life here, a little bit of saloon culture that dates back four decades, to the era when Toronto couldn't even have bars that didn't serve food. With the Horseshoe, it's practically the only longstanding sanctuary of hard country music in this northern town (Marty Robbins, Charlie Pride, Stompin' Tom, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn - whose Rate It X Neko covered divinely - and later Blue Rodeo, etc. have all performed there) - you might have glimpsed it as the setting of the video for Leonard Cohen's Closing Time.

Though it was apparently raided by the police in March - and the paranoia level among the regularly rigid security staff was even grimmer than usual last night - generally the Matador operates on a margin of the law nobody else in this town can ever seem to find, where obeyance in letter but not spirit (as well as who knows what other unofficial arrangements between owner Ann Dunn, now in her 70s, and the authorities) is good enough, most of the time, for the gendarmes. (Tho it did seem like the raid's had some effect, as none of the usual under-the-table liquid barter action seemed to be in effect.)

So no wonder Neko wanted to do some of the recording for her live-album-in-progress there. Unfortunately, the recording aspect made the show a bit stiff, but the Sadies are never anything less than the hottest live band you could hope to hear, and Neko was in superb voice, just not quite as loose and wild as a great Neko performance will be.

The new songs being recorded for the album seem back up at the old vitality levels, after her last rather muted EP, so the live disc & DVD are something to look forward to.

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But I have to admit I chafed at being in the backup-singing presence of Kelly Hogan - one of the best singers in indie music bar none - all night without getting to hear her take a lead, but I'm sure that too was because tape was rolling, time was money, etc. I yelled out her name a couple of times, and she seemed to appreciate that, immediately perking up to crack tasteless Jesus jokes in honour of Easter. [...]

All well worth staying up till dawn for, even if the slight stiffness felt like a funny contrast to the famously loose-hipped setting. (There was one not-so-funny interlude where a regular who'd ponied up the extra cover charge to come to her bar for the night loudly groused that this weren't no kind of country music as far as she was concerned, referring to Neko "B-word" derogatorily along the way; Ms. Case's retort from the stage reminded you that she ain't nobody you ever want to cross, in full femme fatale effect, and heavy on the fatality.)

Earlier last night, a fine time at Art Metropole's "Art Metronone" fundraiser at Harbourfront, with fine first-set performances by Martha Hlady and the Tristanos (with local free improvisors playing a Celtic folk tune and Moon River while accompanied by artist Hlady's light-and-sample-emitting computerized steel orbs) and an extraordinary set by the Hidden Cameras in their string-quartet (!) incarnation, with Winnipeg artist Daniel Barrow doing what you might call "still animation" on overhead projector - very dirty, clever and often poignant. I heard rumours that HCs leader Joel Gibb's troubles at the U.S. border, which date to SXSW, are continuing - I'll check up on that and get back to you. It's potentially a very troublesome situation with their new album coming up soon...

About the second half, with Montreal's Daniel Olson on amplified toy, and a set by Antony and (one of) the Johnstons from New York, I have less gushy things to say. Olson so gratingly overstayed his welcome that the audience began to spontaneously applaud partway through his set to get him offstage. (I kinda half-admired that he kept going after that though.)

As for Antony, he has a great voice, part Boy George and part Nina Simone, but for the most part I wished he were singing anything other than his own songs, which descended near constantly into mawkish 1970s-80s camp cliches that rendered banal the whole befouled-choirboy effect of his vocals.

There were a couple of better-realized exceptions, but actually the high point was when he was about to dish some backstage dirt about the Drake Hotel and suddenly realized that since they were sponsors of the event - putting him up for free, in fact - maybe he'd better clam up. No amount of hooting and hollering from the art-world gossips in the crowd could pry out the second half of what his cleaning lady told him that morning. How very subversive. Ish. Or ishn't.

(Note: The Matador pic is stolen from the Accordion Guy blog in Toronto. Remerciments.)

Read More | Live Notes | Posted by zoilus on Monday, April 12 at 1:25 AM | Linking Posts | Comments (2)

 

COMMENTS

I hadn't been to the Matador in years and was taken aback by the heavy level of security and the woman at the front door barking orders, military-style - "You will line up in single file...you will not consume alcoholic beverages on the premises...you will not have marijuana on your person..." The surreal atmosphere was enhanced by displaced-looking groups of young jocks looking for alcohol and being sorely disappointed that they'd paid to get in that night, oblivious to the wonderful Ms. Case et al. on stage. At first I thought that whole 'b-word' incident was just Neko joking around, but when she continued to stare down that woman while belting out her song, I could feel the laser-beam intensity of Neko's gaze boring into her. Looking forward to the live disc....

Posted by gregorb on April 18, 2004 9:22 AM

 

 

i'm here in prague trying to figure out how to make zoilus the default homepage for computer #1 at the "globe" english expat bookstore and overpriced caffe, but alas i can't find the explorer preferences. adding it to the favourites was the best i could do. nice pics.

Posted by sean on April 15, 2004 8:09 AM

 

 

 

Zoilus by Carl Wilson