May 3, 2013 – We’re always on the lookout for great indie bands. It’s like scouting the minors for great young talent. So of course we love the CMW and NXNE festivals. They’re like the annual combines where all the athletes report at one event to be evaluated. But rather than cardivascular tests, the bands get 40 minutes each to perform. There’s way too much going on to see everything, so we generally employ guerilla tactics. Get in, catch a couple songs and get to the next venue fast. Hopefully, it’s just a quick walk away. We’ll scoot from Rancho to Silver Dollar to Comfort Zone to upstairs and downstairs at the El Mo. If on Queen, it’ll be a quick jog between Hideout, Bovine and Cherry Colas. We see a lot, but we also miss a lot. But we do hear some really cool stuff that we want to see more of, like last year when we saw One Bad Son at Cherry Colas or this year, seeing A Place To Bury Strangers (who sound like The Smiths doing acid/surf/noise music) at Garrison.
At this year’s CMW, Toronto’s Blackdog Ballroom was on our T-MAK World CMW Recommendation List based on their bio and checking out their music online. But while they were performing at the Hard Rock, we were at Cherry Colas checking out Heaven’s Basement again. So it was great to be able to catch Blackdog Ballroom at Lee’s Palace last Friday night and have the chance to see the whole set without the need to rush off somewhere else.
With a sound that’s definitely Brit pop influenced, Blackdog Ballroom also mixes in some 90s rock (like a Collective Soul or Live) and a little punk attitude. Sporting a decidedly Mod style, Blackdog Ballroom frontman Mike Stanfield (aka TheMike) evokes memories of Joe Jackson’s I’m The Man and Brit pop singers of that ilk. It was no surprise when he jumped off the Lee’s Palace stage to see the Union Jack emblazoned on his shoes. Bassist Ck Armstrong sports a mohawk, kilt and plays a 7 string bass. Mike Spriggs is on lead guitar and a new guy (didn’t catch the name) was on drums. Together they played an energetic show playing some really tight well constructed radio friendly songs. Highlight of the night was Sounds Like New. Have a listen here. Highly recommend seeing this band live. I’m looking forward to seeing them again.
Review and photos by Steve Mallinson
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