Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

Yamantaka//Sonic Titan tame a dragon at the Garrison

Though they've been performing since 2007, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan were largely unknown outside of Montreal until their debut full-length album YT//ST was shortlisted for the 2012 Polaris Prize. But following a high-profile string of gigs - including a remarkable performance at the Polaris gala and arguably one of the best secret shows at NXNE last year - Yamantaka // Sonic Titan have quickly gained a reputation as a must-see act.

On Friday night, alongside openers CTZNSHP and Planet Creature, they brought their self-styled 'noh-wave' performance-art/rock to The Garrison.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

It was cold enough outside that as I walked into the venue, the sudden wave of heat — not to mention the smell of sweat and spilled beer — from the restless, sold-out crowd felt overwhelming. After the openers, there were a few minutes of silence while the audience sort of baked, many having neglected the $3 coat-check. But just as tempers started to fray and I heard one couple start to argue loudly by the bar, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan got onstage, started a long, drawn-out wash of an intro, and sent out the dragon.

Yeah. A fucking dragon.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

The whole atmosphere of the place changed in an instant while the crowd just sort of froze in excitement as the (paper-mache? Cardboard? What else can you build a dragon out of?) creature wound its way through them. It was amazing, really — it's not often a band has the audience eating out of their hands before the first song even begins. I guess a dragon'll do that, though.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

According to sources, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan were testing out some new material with this set, but I mostly noticed tracks from their last album. To begin, they kicked into "Reverse Crystal Murder of A Spider" and later on played "Hoshi Neko" as well.

Incidentally, that song brought the crowd to a standstill. Again, the band's power over their audience was staggering.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

Singer Ruby Kato Atwood's voice is quite arresting. Though noticeably low in the mix for part of the show, her versatility (she can go in a moment from ethereal to piercing, a jarring switch the band uses to full advantage) really stood out. The rest of the band was note-perfect as well, though, even the most complex parts of YT//ST coming off with well-practiced ease.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

Given that Friday night's show sold out, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan may start booking some larger rooms. I'd like to see them try a residency; there's a lot of speculation and excitement surrounding the news that the band is recording a follow-up to YT//ST, and I think their audience would really respond to the opportunity to watch them gradually build a performance around the new material.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

Montreal's CTZNSHP opened up the show alongside local Toronto rockers Planet Creature. CTZNSHP played a set marked most by its intensity, guitarist Scott Steven Delaney hammering away at his Duo-Sonic under singer Jesse David LeGallais' rough, anthemic lyrics.

And, well, Planet Creature are a scrappy group of local badasses you should probably see any time you can.

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

CTZNSHP should be back for NXNE and Planet Creature play tons of shows downtown, but with the unmitigated success of YT//ST, all eyes are on Yamantaka // Sonic Titan as they re-enter the studio and exactly when they'll book more shows in Toronto remains an open question. We hope it's soon, though; their epic showmanship left the crowd at the Garrison speechless, and surely eager for more.

More photos:

Yamantaka // Sonic TitanYamantaka // Sonic TitanYamantaka // Sonic Titan

Written by Adam Brady / Photos by Irina No

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