Think About Life @ Cargo, Pure Groove & 93 Feet East
Think About Life
Shoreditch Cargo. 15feb10.
Farringdon Pure Groove. 16feb10.
Spitalfields 93 Feet East. 17feb10.
Montreal’s Think About Life stop in London lasted but four days but in that time they were able to squeeze in five shows. So taken was I with their first, I attended the second and fourth as well. Never let it be said that Vanity Project doesn’t put in the leg-work when appraising a band.
Their week began with an opening slot supporting tUnE-YaRdS (who, incidentally, was just astonishing from her very first vocal note) in front of a red hot sold out crowd at Cargo. London crowds tend to need more than a little ‘warming’, so thankfully we were met square in the eyes by a band that project an exuberance you could spring a mattress with.
For the other two gigs they had much less to work with, 93 Feet East being largely empty, whilst their lunchtime set at Pure Groove saw them delivering tune to about twenty seated customers sipping tea and weighing up the merits of the homemade millionaire shortbread. Yet the bigger gaps in the room didn’t lead to holes being torn in the energy of their performance.
In terms of that, they remind me a bit of Baltimore’s Future Islands who in similar way, I became instantly fond of last year. Like them Islands, there is the almost relentless enthusiasm, the child-like bounce, and the ability to prompt an espirit du corps involving both band and audience, regardless of how big it is.
This is also partly thanks to frontman Martin Cesar’s rascally giddiness and ability to get carried away. Within a couple of songs at Cargo he was telling us “London, we love you!” before pondering that he may be coming on too strong too soon and reappraising that to ‘like’. Recounting this tale less than a day later at Pure Groove, he decided that we happy few sitting attentively and nursing a hot drink had convinced him to fall in love after all. Mind you, we might partly attribute this bundling of effusive affection to the jet-lag as they later took time to laud British coverage of the Winter Olympics over their equivalent at home; thus spoke bassist and fellow vocalist Caila Thompson-Hannant, “No commercials!!…you got your TV down!”
Scatty wittering aside, Cesar is a commanding presence with his burly frame, dark glasses and soul-soaked voice that recalls TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. He bounds around, often in a vaguely choreographed manner with Thompson-Hannant. For example, they power down like sharply unplugged androids when Johanna collapses in on itself, before firing up again amidst sparks and flicker as the song reboots.
Band leader Graham Van Pelt throws shapes with his guitars but never loses sight of his sampler duties, at one point during the 93 Feet East show depressing one switch with his nose whilst mid-riff. Behind all three, drummer Matt Shane ripples like trees in a breeze.
In terms of tunes, they’ve got a good set of eccentric pop songs to tout. Havin’ My Baby and Sweet Sixteen cycle amphetamine vocal samples to underpin some grandstanding work from Van Pelt and Cesar while fuzz-funk piece Young Hearts pauses twice for mystical spoken word to saunter out of the speakers. However, Wizzzard is the big high, as the main synth motif scythes like a young Amish farmhand eagerly getting amongst his first harvest, stabs like a staccato Psycho and swings like one whose car keys have taken their chances in the party punch bowl.
Hopefully they’ve returned to Canada with enough London love left to warrant their swift return.
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