Thursday, May 31, 2007

Interlude: Reunion

It's been too long. Although I've returned to the city a couple times since school ended, it's been a long three weeks since I caught a show there. In the time, things have unfortunately slowed down here, and while it's inevitable that I'll pick up something new and interesting in album form regardless of my location, nothing really beats being there. This set was part of the Upper North Side Canadian Music Series, and I was reminded once again how incredibly likable Torquil and, by arbitrary extension, the entire Great White North is. I think the reason so many people have been drawn to the Broken Social Scene collective is, aside from the musical quality, the distinctly human quality of it all. At some point, you cease being a mere fan of a group, and you kind of wish you were part of it. And I suppose that, for one night, we all were.

We managed to snag front-row seats, a first in what was my fourth trip to Joe's. After an ear-popping soundcheck and a brief introduction from someone from Upper North Side, seven member strong Memphis - the duo of Torquil Campbell and Chris DuMont, along with five supporting musicians - took the stage. Things began airily with "I Dreamed We Fell Apart," which highlighted Torq's smooth delivery and soaring vocalization. Things picked up with the great single "I'll Do Whatever You Want," or as Torq called it, "a big old pop song." The full band erupted, as the drummer, who was later revealed to be Bucky Wheaton, formerly of Land of Talk, switched from brushes to sticks. The only complaint I have is that the dense instrumentation buried Torq's vocals, but the energy compensated.

Things were rather sparse throughout the middle of the set, and a number of songs featured only a few chords of Chris' guitar, perhaps punctuated by a string flourish, and Torq's voice. Torq even requested that for "Ghost Story" all of the lights of the venue, sans table candles, be dimmed. Thankfully, a waltzy rendition of "Incredibly Drunk On Whisky" and a triumphant rendition of "Into The Wild," a cut off of their first album, I Dreamed We Fell Apart that I hadn't heard. (Yes, their first album shares the name of the first song on their second album.) A brief band introduction followed, and the main set concluded with another unfamiliar track, "Love Comes Quickly;" I'm not sure if this is actually a Pet Shop Boys cover. A quick encore, which featured just the main duo and their trumpet player, closed out a satisfying set that will definitely have me delving into their back catalogue.

Memphis is altogether more introspective than Stars, trading great gestures of affection for more personal vignettes, fictional or otherwise. While not as grandiosely charming, Memphis still retains the impeccability of Stars' arrangements, and perhaps more essentially, Torq's strong presence. What it does not have, unfortunately, is Amy Millan's achingly pretty voice, and the slower stuff just didn't do nearly as much for me. Shortcomings aside, they're still a strong group, and they continue their U.S. tour in Union Hall on May 31st, and return in June 18th for a set at the Mercury Lounge.

MP3: Memphis - I'll Do Whatever You Want
MySpace: Memphis
Official Site: Memphis

Meanwhile, Stars have just released that long belated remix album, Do You Trust Your Friends, and hopefully a new album will be out in the fall. Here's their second KCRW set, recorded on November 18th, 2003.


1. Romantic Comedy
2. The Vanishing
3. Heart
4. Le Petite Mort
5. Interview
6. What The Snowman Learned About Love
7. Elevator Love Letter
8. Outro

Buy: Here


Liz said...

Any idea who the other band members are on tour, other than the ex- Land of Talk drummer?

John said...

glad you enjoyed the show; nice write up!

jonquille said...

hey, i just picked up some memphis today, then i stumbled upon your blog! i wasn't aware of this BSS side-project band at all, so thanks for your review of their show. great pics! i like that you took a picture of the set list.

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