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Teenage prodigies and the elusive Marquee pizza slice 

I had breakfast yesterday morning with Will Robinson of i see rowboats, who are playing St. Matthew’s Church tonight, and I said, “That’s the perfect venue for you guys.” Which is not necessarily what I’d assume with Spiral Beach, four exuberant Torontonians barely out of their teens who first hit success at age 15 or so.

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But although they were disappointed that the church couldn’t accommodate their smoke machine, they used it all to their advantage. They played that church like it was a frickin’ stadium. Nobody stayed in their seats. Er, their pews.

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Three-quarters composed of the offspring of folk musicians, fame comes easier when Mom and Dad are well connected, but these guys have a natural energy that’s rare, not to mention infectious. Keyboardist Maddy Wilde had her hair teased up into a Robert Smith-like configuration, guitarist Airick Woodhead wore some sort of naval- or little-drummer-boy- type jacket, and they had pylons everywhere. What look were they going for? Who cares? Playing a sort of poppy, new-wave art rock, they lit up the pulpit. They say they’re weary from days of driving, although you might wonder if they’re actually old enough to drive. They’re still cute, but you can tell they’re outgrowing that cuteness and one day they’ll just be accomplished musicians.

And over at Coconut Grove...

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Sue Carter Flinn led me to Boxer The Horse the other week, also of around the same vintage as Spiral Beach. For a band who’s been playing together for under a year and a half, Boxer The Horse really have their act together. To paraphrase Sue, they’re so young and can already deal with crowd heckling (from a group of dudes super excited about their wings and buckets of Molson sitting up front). When I interviewed drummer Andrew Woods (read it here), he told me about this “giant woman” who was walking around shirtless and bumping into people and things on the street when he and guitarist Jeremy Gaudet travelled by bus to Montreal this summer and had a lot of strange things happen to them—a big songwriting inspiration, it seems. “Is there a song about this woman?” I asked. “Well, I think there should be,” he said. I can’t be sure, but I think I heard some mentions of Montreal in one new song. Maybe I’ll learn next time they’re in town or on their next album.

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The Rural Alberta Advantage is actually from Toronto, but their guitarist hails from Edmonton. At last count, I’ve met around 14 people from Edmonton in the past year, and maybe two before that. I have no explanation for this, except that perhaps the Alberta oil boom is driving the creative class eastwards?

When I showed up at the Holy Fuck show, I thought I’d never get into the Marquee and considered just going back downtown, but I was craving Marquee pizza so badly, and hadn’t had a proper meal all day (coffee for breakfast, semi-heated soup out of a beer stein while I dashed home between work and Spiral Beach). I’d never seen Holy Fuck live before either, and opener Windom Earle is one of those bands who always put on a fabulous show. Windom Earle put on a rousing game of dodgeball while they played, and astounded with their fashion sense as always. The venue was packed, and as I couldn’t get any closer than about seven kilometres from the stage, all my photos are even worse than usual.

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Holy Fuck played a solid set, but the rave atmosphere was really getting to me after a while, and I wanted to catch some of Horses at Gus’. I'm sure some of those pushy jerks outside were eager to take my place, too. I thought I'd just make the last couple songs, but Horses ended up playing for at least half an hour after I showed up. Toronto hasn't killed their spirits yet, evidently, and they sounded as good as ever. Just like the good ol' days. I mean, these days are good too. But they'd be better with another slice of Marquee pizza.

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