Boy Friend and Young Prisms drift through Toronto
Just before 9pm on Saturday, The Drake Underground was pretty barren. When the small figures of Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown crossed the room and stepped onto the stage, less than 20 people sat alone or in small clusters on the couches lining the walls of the underground bar.
Palazzolo and Brown, who make up the gloomy Austin dream-pop duo Boy Friend, were unassuming before their set, but as the two began to play, all awkwardness died away. The red curtains behind the artists were the perfect accent to their hazy Julee Cruise vibe.
Palazzolo's impressive voice drifted between low and high registers, adding hard, ultra-femme edges to soft Elizabeth Fraser grace while she swayed, hair swooping, over her keyboard. Brown, far on the other side of the stage, played guitar throughout the set; a surprise to me as their recordings sound so synth-y. Her crunching chords during the chorus of The False Cross gave the song a deep texture.
Boy Friend was born from the ashes of Palazzolo and Brown's former trio, Sleep ∞ Over (now solo project of their ex bandmate Stefanie Franciotti), who recorded a series of cassettes and 7"'s together that ruled my world in 2010. Franciotti's debut LP appeared last year to critical acclaim, and now Boy Friend have released their own full length, Egyptian Wrinkle. Though it's sad to see friends split, fans are blessed in many ways to now have talented two acts that investigate the eerie, gentle graveyard pop that these girls emerged as masters of back when witch house was having its day.
Boy Friend are touring with San Francisco's Young Prisms, who are promoting the spring release of their second album. I didn't much care what Young Prisms did that night, charmed as I was by Boy Friend's atmosphere, so when the five piece took the stage it was a nice surprise to be wooed by their sound.
A lot of effort has gone into finding descriptions of Young Prisms's music beyond "shoegaze" — which is pointless, as the group do little but embody the genre's sound, not to mention actions; a lot of gazing at shoes was going on. A small crowd had trickled in and gathered before the stage, and I noticed a lot of older, grey haired dudes nodding their heads in the audience - it was unclear if they were The Drake's hotel guests, or if that's Young Prism's Toronto demographic (both possibilities are pretty cool).
Though they didn't get many curious blog readers or devoted fans out to The Drake this time, Young Prisms had some sweet moments — highlights were Stefanie Hodapp's vocals, and the chance to see a live band that could sort of play like My Bloody Valentine. All together, it was a dreamy way to start a Saturday night.