Concert review: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan @ The Garrison – Toronto, ON | Nov. 6, 2013

YT//ST’s UZU release party an immersive, media synthesizing experience 
Tom Beedham

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan singer Ange Loft wears a large head ornament for a theatrical portion of the group's 'UZU' release show at The Garrison in Toronto on Nov. 6. Photo: Tom Beedham

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan singer Ange Loft wears a large head ornament for a theatrical portion of the group’s ‘UZU’ release show at The Garrison in Toronto on Nov. 6. Photo: Tom Beedham

Having satisfied the first half of its split residency’s homecoming in Montreal on Oct. 29 – the same day its sophomore LP UZU dropped via Paper Bag/Suicide Squeeze – Yamantaka // Sonic Titan (YT//ST) staved off some of its other hometown’s jealousy Nov. 6 when it face-painted its way onto the stage at Dundas West volume den The Garrison.

Concert photos (story continues below):
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Ange Loft onstage at The Garrison in Toronto Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Ruby Kato Attwood delivers some fan dancing onstage at The Garrison in Toronto Alaska B's drum kit was surrounded by new, 'UZU'-appropriate art at Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's album release party at The Garrison in Toronto on Nov. 6, 2013 Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Ruby Kato Attwood onstage at The Garrison in Toronto Yamantaka // Sonic Titan keyboardist Brendan Swanson smashes and rubs cymbals together as Ruby Kato Attwood and Ange Loft make a dramatic entrance through the crowd.
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Ruby Kato Attwood onstage at The Garrison in Toronto.  Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Ange Loft onstage at The Garrison in Toronto. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Ruby Kato Attwood onstage at The Garrison in Toronto. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan's Ange Loft dons a costume for a theatrical performance mid-set.

And if fans were expecting a “safe” set devoted to the collective’s (sort of) eponymous 2012 Polaris-shortlisted debut, only peppered with glimpses of their new album, they were sorely mistaken. November 6 was for UZU, and that album first. So much so, that they played it all front-to-back. The only exception was the album’s late act instrumental “Bring Me The Hand of Bloody Benzaiten,” positioned instead as the night’s lower stage-personneled set intro, which served the dual purposes of ushering singers Ange Loft and Ruby Kato Attwood through the crowd and onto the stage and whisking the audience away to another place entirely.

The group’s debut album still got some play through, though – YT//ST gave fans “Queens,” “Hoshi Neko,” and “A Star Over Pureland” in the encore (full setlist below). But the concentration on the newer work was anything but rejected. Following YT//ST, UZU sees the band embarking on another adventure of “other” (emphasis on those quotes, dammit) worldly proportions, and one that deserves to get the spotlight just as much as its precursor did when that was all the rock group iteration of YT//ST had.

It’s not like YT//ST sprung the newer material on its audiences out of nowhere, either. The group has worked at making cuts contained on UZU staples of its live performances since at least January of this year.

No one (save YT//ST, presumably) seemed to mind that some literal forces were working against the band that night, either.

Admitting to having a cold early on in the set, Attwood sipped on a 7/11 tea all night – poorly executed “product placement,” drummer Alaska B suggested, jesting they’d get bigger money for bringing taquitos onstage – but the singer’s vocals never seemed to fail, and when it finally came to UZU’s fragile closer “Saturn’s Return” (made all the more penetrating following the surreally raging “One”) Attwood had the room spellbound.

Pulling out all of the stops, the entire night was executed with the DIY media synthesizing grin YT//ST has become known for – we got the pre- and mid-set theatrical portions (the latter featuring Ange Loft wearing a black costume with a large head ornament while miming Attwood’s words to part of “Seasickness”), a special light show, and several black and white anime-referencing set decorations – but that quiet and minimal moment explained how even when the (sometimes literally) frilly Gesamtkuntswerk of a YT//ST concert is stripped away, the music is the  most enchanting stuff.

Setlist
“Bring Me The Hand of Bloody Benzaiten”
“Atlanta”
“Whale Song”
“Lamia”
“Windflower”
“Hall of Mirrors”
“Sea Sickness (pts 1 and 2)”
“One”
“Saturn’s Return”
Encore
“Queens”
“Hoshi Neko”
“A Star Over Pureland”

Related:
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s Alaska B. and Ruby Kato Attwood talk “cerebral cougars,” video games

Concert review: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan at Hillside Festival – Guelph, ON | July 27, 2013
Concert review: Yamantaka // Sonic Titan at Guelph’s eBar Jan. 17, 2013

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About Tom Beedham

Tom Beedham is a Canadian writer and photographer based in Toronto, Ontario. His work focuses on independent culture, DIY communities, and their relationship to the mainstream, reporting on a spectrum of creatives that has ranged from emerging acts to the definitive voices of cultural movements. In addition to contributing regular features to AUX, Chart Attack, and VICE publications Noisey and THUMP, he has appeared on Daily VICE, and frequently reviews concerts, festivals, and new album releases for Canadian arts and culture monthly Exclaim!. He is also a co-organizer and curator of the seasonal inter-arts series Long Winter, for which he oversees an online blog and print newspaper-style publication, printed for distribution at each instalment of the event. He was also a DIY concert organizer in his hometown Georgetown, Ontario in the mid-2000s.

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