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Wavelength 6th Anniversary @ the Music Gallery

Saturday night's installment of the Wavelength 6th Anniversary weekend saw the Music Gallery sold-out and packed with people eager to see & hear the eclectic orchestrations of Woodhands, Ohbijou, Picastro and the Hylozoists.

First off, the Music Gallery at St. George the Martyr church is as gorgeous a venue as anything anywhere. Great music + stained-glass vaulted windows + old wooden pews + victorian pipe organ + religious idolatry out the wazoo = feast for the ears and the eyes. It almost felt like sacrilege to hold a concert there. But truly, the bands that Wavelenth organizers chose suited the place perfectly.

(We unfortunately arrived too late for Woodhands, but here's the rest!)..

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Ohbijou is sisters Casey and Jennifer Mecija (whose parents were in the audience!), backed by violin, cello, guitars/banjo and drums. Casey's voice is sweet & breathy, sometimes too breathy for such a big room.. I would've liked the vocals a touch louder. She has a very likeable and endearing stage presence, as there is something undeniably charming about a small girl holding a bass guitar that is basically larger that she is. Her duet with Reg Vermue was very pretty.

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Picastro I had been curious about for some time. Initially it was the Owen Pallett connection (he was a former member), but as I read/heard more of them it went beyond that. I am basically a twee-pop gal at heart, so I wasn't sure how the ache of their morose vocals + cello would sit with me, but I was totally taken with Liz Hysen's voice. Especially when paired with Pallett's or the lush orchestration of the rest of the band. I'm sure she is sick to death of Chan Marshall comparisons, so I will toss out one I found even more noticeable: Kendra Smith. Hyson's deep, moody, hollow-yet-evocative voice and presence are very reminiscent of the pre-Mazzy Star singers style and her work with Opal. Lets us know that it's okay for music to hurt a little.

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Hylozoists
I will admit I had never heard of before. But when you read that a band is made up of peices of Cuff the Duke, the Weakerthans, the FemBots and just about every other quality session musician in Toronto.. yeah, I'm sold. The band took stage all in suits and huddled around 2 huge vibraphones and a xylophone and POUNDED THE DAYLIGHTS out of them. No vocals to speak of (except for the occasional whail of Wayne Petti from the grand piano in the corner); their sound is a little bright psychedelic 60's pop, a little Martin Denny, a little Stereolab ... and basically a lot great. Such a thing could easily have fallen into cheesey niche/gimic territory, but thankfully there is too much talent there for that. Just awesome.

There has been talk of the Music Gallery not making it (financially) and throwing in the towel for some time now. And that would really be the biggest crying shame ever. More than one concert-goer that night expressed how lucky we (Toronto) are to have such a place, that is willing and able to host such unique music from bands that might not otherwise have a place to showcase their talents. Each time we lose places like the Music Gallery, we lose a little bit of what makes Toronto so great. I'd not intended this to be a PSA for the Music Gallery - HONEST! - but I do encourage readers to either check them out HERE, or attend some of their upcoming shows & events.


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