Parts & Labour proves it's a legit music venue too
Parts & Labour is pretty magical. Planted in the heart of Parkdale, it's a fairly swish restaurant on the main floor, and a unique venue in the concrete basement. The mingling of both crowds on opening night was almost too hilarious. Resident promoter for "The Shop" (the fun loving name for the basement venue), Mark Pesci gave me an excited tour of the place, amid the constant high pitched drone of hundreds of interested patrons. P&L is about 6,000 square feet, features design work by Castor (the guys behind Oddfellows), and the seating is in long dining hall style tables.
Admittedly, I know little about the restaurant itself; I was there for the opening weekend ceremonies. Friday night featured local bands Little Girls ( with yet another line up change: Andrew Wilson, who was in the original line up, is back on guitar), and the Bitters. White Lung, an amazing all lady punk band from Vancouver, and Mess Folk, looking very much like native Nova Scotians, were also on board to deflower the Shop.I think it looks very good on not only Parts & Labour, but also Mark Pesci's Punk and Hardcore Shows that the opening night show sold out. In a city that can be fickle with attendance, it certainly didn't show on Friday night. The great thing was that there were almost as many unfamiliar faces as there were familiar ones. Everyone seems genuinely excited for P&L, and for a good reason.The venue is pretty awesome. Cheezy as I know this to be, it was like transporting back a decade and a half to all the semi-transcendent basement party shows of my Niagara Falls youth. Only with beer can pyramids everywhere. You walk in and you're surrounded by concrete. There are bleachers ( perfect for makeout parties) along the right wall, a long bar to the left, and a carpet on the floor to the back where the bands set up. On the floor, my friends. That's pretty awesome. There are plans to get a riser eventually, but for now, I'm totally into the DIY style.Little Girls totally killed it that night. Having seen almost all the shows they've played in this city, I kind of have come to expect that from them, but again, I really think that Andrew's playing the band has given them new life. Josh McIntyre is at the same time a pensive whispering ghost and a derelict pent up tornado, whipping his keyboard to the floor and looking slightly possessed.White Lung had some pretty lengthy gear problems, having to switch amps twice I think ( I was halfway down a bottle of celebration whiskey by this point), but holy shit- it was worth the wait. They totally surprised me with how much energy they were able to fling at the ever amassing crowd. I wish Toronto had that good an all girl punk band.
And by that time it was almost an impossible feat to even move in a direction opposite to the crowd. The low ceilings definitely contributed to the tight quarters of the room.It was the Bitters album release for East General, released on Mexican Summer Records. Aerin Fogel always looks like she wants to kick the hell out of anyone who catches her gaze while she's singing. She's got the whole powerful voice and psychotic stage presence thing down pat.Half the band ( as in Ben and Jonah) also play in Toronto's Mercury Prize winning Fucked Up, and bass player Dylan is also in the scuzz rock band The Mutters. This is certainly more than just an interesting side note, but for now it serves to show the breadth of the band. They combine straight up punk, with more dramatic melodies and traditional arrangements.
Saturday night at Parts & Labour was, if not as insanely packed, as thrilling in it's line up. Toronto's ( by way of Memphis) Useless Eaters, Ottawa's White Wires and Zebrassieres, and Brookyln's Golden Triangle picked up where Friday night left off and kept the party going strong and well drunk.There were much fewer technical difficulties Saturday night, which may have been a result of less people crashing into the sound board that is so precariously located in the middle of the crowd. Zebrassieres are a fun little punk band, with an only slightly awkward looking keyboard player. The spacey vocals grabbed me right away.Useless Eaters are a great combination of hyper minimalist Germs-esque punk, and young attitude crass. Seth, who migrated here from Memphis, originally shared the band with the late, great Jay Reatard. One could argue that a bit of Jay still lives on in the Useless Eaters,as Seth sounds and plays every bit like a lil' Reatard.I can hardly come up with a way to describe how much I'm in love with the White Wires. Ottawa has bred some pretty amazing bands the past few years ( Check out the Holy Cobra's), but few are as much pure fun as these guys. They take poppy surf punk and throw in more guitar hooks and sing-a-long " oohs and aahs" in one song than a band like.. I dunno, maybe the Hives was able to cram into their entire catalog. My all time favorite top 3 White Wires songs are: Girly Girly Girly, I Remember How, and the undeniably perfect Ha Ha Holiday. Frontman Ian Manhire hops and jumps around with as much vim and vigour as a kid half his age, and drummer Allie has her own cavity inducing outfit by the name of Peach Kelli Pop. Going wrong is simply the opposite of everything the White Wires can do. They'll be back for NXNE, and I do implore you to check them out. Disappointment will not be on the bill. While sandwiched cozily in between a group of people standing on the astro turf smoking section outside, we tried to figure out how it was possible for anyone to want to go on, or to have to on after the White Wires. Seriously, the whole front of the crowd was singing a long and dancing in a truly un-Toronto manner.I gotta say, I was definitely interested in seeing Golden Triangle, though I wasn't crazily impressed by their recorded stuff. I think they were absolutely wild. When you're band has 6 members and your dealing with the reality of being in a band from Brooklyn in 2010, you've got a bit of an uphill battle. As far as second impressions go though, they totally stepped up the plate- similar to owning it on grade school class picture re-take day. Both the chicks singing had complete control over the band, and whipped into a frenzy of streamlined anti post-punk. The ginger kid drumming was a total hunk to!So basically, I'm not only super impressed with Parts & Labour, I'm really excited as well. The venue is great, the shows that have been booked so far are fantastic, and they had a really successful opening weekend. The only thing left for now is to save my pennies and get some serious dinner in the restaurant. Congrats go out to all the people involved in it, and to all the bands who played this weekend.