Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Jun 20th 2010 4:15PM by Joshua Ostroff
Tens of thousands of music fans flooded the streets following the Pavement / Broken Social Scene festival on Toronto Island and the Iggy Pop and the Stooges free show at Young-Dundas Square while teenyboppers crowded Queen Street to watch (and scream) as Justin Bieber and Adam Lambert rehearsed on the outdoor stages for Sunday's MuchMusic Video Awards. Not to mention all the police protecting the serpentine "security fence" in place for next weekend's G20 world leader summit.
Oh, and of course there were about 50 live venues still in full-on NXNE mode with packed showcases featuring indie darlings like Les Savy Fav, Best Coast and Cold Cave running as late as 4AM.
So it's something of a mystery why so few folks made it to see the Raveonettes -- one of NXNE's biggest buzz bands and who'd opened for the Stooges a few hours earlier -- play an intimate 12:30AM performance in an abandoned food court.
The Raveonettes were booked as part of Event Magnifique's invite-only quasi-MMVA afterparty called The Block, which occupied a series of Queen Street stores such as designer mecca Umbra Concept, hat emporium New Era, hip clothing haunt Lavish and Squalor and the empty Market Station food court.
While Canadian pop stars and 'Degrassi' cast members (no, not Drake) strode The Block's red carpet, and the coiffed guests quaffed beer and bubblegum-flavoured vodka in the various DJ-enhanced shops, Toronto's Bonjay played to a small handful of people who had wandered down a back alley to the food court concert venue.
Not many more had showed up by the time the Raveonettes went on, but the 25 or so people who did were treated to an almost unparalleled concert experience. With the stage only a foot off the ground, and essentially everyone within a few feet of the stage, it was like watching your own private show by one of modern rock's best bands.
And though a corporate gig, the Denmark shoegazers raised the decibels and did not disappoint -- with guitarists/singers Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo blasting out eardrum-shredding distortion that reached My Bloody Valentine volume levels while never overwhelming the melodic pop, 50s rock, dance beats and surf sounds that set the band apart from their peers. The amped-up songs sometimes became almost unrecognizable from their recorded versions, but the intensity was most welcome.
In fact, the perhaps-too-exclusive concert -- which stuck largely to the band's back catalogue tracks like 'Dead Sound' with a few detours into their current world-beating album 'In and Out of Control,' including a particularly wonderful version of 'Break Up Girls' -- was so intense that the three boys in the band (including a touring bassist and parade drummer) had soon stripped off their shirts while Foo's white-blonde hair became offset by her beet-red face.
This once-in-a-lifetime show by a band at the peak of their powers came to a close far too soon, but the Raveonettes did at least leave on the highest of notes, with a raging, rollicking run through of their biggest hit, the dark-hewn, vintage-sounding stomper 'Aly Walk With Me.'
And then in a final, beautiful blast of feedback and distortion, the Danish band disappeared from the sparse food court and headed out into the packed streets.