Sunday, July 4, 2010
Upper and Lower Canada
I missed doing my show last week because I had 5 days off between jobs, so up the St. Lawrence we went. In Montreal, the best band I saw was from Toronto: Rich Brown, Larnell Lewis, Robbie Botos, and Luis Deniz Rinsing The Algorithm to a big mellow crowd that produced rising waves of applause at every opportunity. Also mind-blending was Jose James, Chic Gamine, and Treasa Levasseur laying Lean On Me into a rowdy midafternoon pub with a silencing authority. On Friday,it was my first Lou Reed show. I had seen Zorn's massive Masada the night before. They walked onto a stage, along with Laurie Anderson, that contained no drums or vocal mics and began making long notes, loudly. It was not organized in any way that I could appreciate. I like dissonance and spontaneity more than most, but it was the worst sounding and most insensitive musical performance I've ever heard on a professional level. A disgrace to an otherwise brilliantly-run and positive festival. Coming from the meticulously hospitable atmosphere of Montreal to the TD Downtown Jazz's Chaka Khan / Macy Grey show was like going from church to prison. Why can't the city put up bleachers on Dundas Square street south of the venue? Cars were threatening fans all night. Families were sitting on the dirty sidewalks. And when a woman had her purse stolen, the crowd was forced to deal with the thief. There was NO police presence in the square, in contrast to last weekend's armed encampment. I went to look for help and found only two security guards near the subway. Not even a cruiser parked nearby. Last night the real Toronto had to suffer for their fine music and leisure. Montreal proves every year that that is not necessary. I have lived in T.O. all my life, and I find this neglect shameful.