Tag Archives: set list

Concert review: Lee Ranaldo & The Dust and Elsa @Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON | Oct. 11, 2013

There’s plenty of noise, but Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley’s new band doesn’t play Sonic Youth
Tom Beedham

Lee Ranaldo takes a cello bow to one of his infamously hot-rodded Fender

Lee Ranaldo takes a cello bow to one of his infamously hot-rodded Fender “Jazzblaster” Jazzmasters during one of his mid-song noise jams with The Dust at Horseshoe Tavern on Oct. 11, 2013. Photo: Tom Beedham

Blame it all on the Thanksgiving gravy spilled this long weekend, but for a pair of acts sharing the Horseshoe’s stage Oct. 11 as a platform for the albums they’re each in the throes of sending off as their first official releases, it was easy to see Elsa and Lee Ranaldo & The Dust were pretty appreciative of the situations that brought them there.

Concert photos: Lee Ranaldo & The Dust and Elsa at Horseshoe Tavern

Sure to get some attention on “Local Bands to Watch” lists yet to come, it’s little surprise Elsa was called on by Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo to deliver some unbuttoned dreamgaze at the start of his show. And Elsa couldn’t have been more grateful for the opening set blessing imparted on them for the night; they made it known – both literally and figuratively – with some earnest stage thanks and a set fit for gifting.

Having evolved and quadrupled in size since songwriter and guitarist Jonathan Rogers brought the project into realization as a bedroom demo some time ago, Elsa now features second guitarist Matthew Goldman, bassist Jesse Mirsky, and drummer Angie Wong.

The band seized the exposure of their supporting slot and used the event to soft release their premiere 12” single, I Do (officially due Oct. 22 via Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuck’s 12” singles boutique One Big Silence), but their set went well beyond the four-track listing on that EP, hinting it shoudn’t be long until Toronto hears a proper album from these folks.

If that follows, so might a sound that is markedly different from their EP preference.

While Jesse Mirsky’s bass has a subtle presence on most of I Do’s mix, emerging only at times from the lapping wash of hazy guitars provided by Rogers and Goldman – Rogers strums chords while singing, and Goldman demonstrates a strong right hand by plucking through whirling arpeggios on his Rickenbacker – at the Horseshoe, Mirsky was distinct and pervasive, his propulsive finger picking often evocative of a laid-back Peter Hook with a thing for disseminating Quaaludes.

They closed their set with a smoggy cover of lo-fi indie pioneers Guided By Voices track “Game of Pricks.”

Lee Ranaldo & The Dust didn’t forgo paying respects to their influences, either, cranking out covers of The Modern Lovers’s “She Cracked” and Neil Young’s “Revolution Blues” throughout the night.

The bulk of their hour-and-a-half-long set was otherwise a pretty even jumble of cuts from The Dust’s premiere, Oct. 8-released Last Night On Earth and Ranaldo’s last solo release, Between the Times and the Tides (full setlist below). That shouldn’t have come as a surprise, however. Although Ranaldo’s new group features bandmates from Sonic Youth and Text of Light – Steve Shelley on drums and Alan Licht on guitar, respectively – as well as jazz bassist Tim Lüntzel (Bright Eyes), The Dust is largely personelled by musicians that put in studio time on his last solo release, which distances itself from the guitarist’s previous noise-rock exploits with more conventional song-led structures in its sights.

Even when The Dust returned for an encore and a fan shouted a request for “Mote,” a Ranaldo-led cut from his and Shelley’s more avant-garde pinioned band’s 1990 album Goo, Ranaldo chuckled and dismissed it, citing its absence from the setlist for the night. But songs relying on such perpetual barbed clangour for escort don’t really come up in the guitarist’s new work, and as a result don’t find easy segues in the new material; it is a band more vocal about influences found in the contemplative folk rock ventures of songwriters like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young (hence the covers). Besides, Ranaldo doesn’t need validation for work that’s already proven successful.

Still, The Dust sated Sonic Youth-bred noise fans’ thirsts for Ranaldo-brand pandemonium when it wandered into some spontaneous and resourceful noise jams during the heavier sections of a few of the new songs; Ranaldo took a bow to his guitars during “Xtina” and “Hammer Blows,” and even smashed a jumble of Tibetan bells against his axe during “Lecce, Leaving”; Licht spent the night reigning over the eleven pedals he had surrounding his space on the right side of the stage and even tested the stage’s light rigging and bulkhead as neck slide devices during “Key/Hole.”

Fans even glimpsed some classic Sonic Youth nostalgia onstage. In addition to a more recently acquired (remarkably pristine – for Ranaldo) purple Deimel Firestar (not to be confused with the green 12-string Deimel seen on the cover of the Corporate Ghost DVD) and Jarell JZH-1x, the guitarist’s artillery included the signature Jazzmaster model Fender consulted Ranaldo on and manufactured in his name, the Saul Koll custom-built cherry F-Hole Jazzblaster Ranaldo’s used since tours in 2000, the Telecaster Deluxe that Kurt Cobain once borrowed (even though he played right-handed) to perform a cover of Fang’s “The Money Will Roll Right In” live with Mudhoney (!), and a motley herd of “Jazzblaster” hot-rodded Jazzmasters – almost all slapped with labels for unconventional tunings – among the ranks.

While the press concerned with Ranaldo and the rest of his Sonic Youth bandmates’ various solo endeavours continues to flog the jilted relationship of former partners Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore and the resulting hiatus of their band, the new groups have so far proven to mean cities are seeing its  members more often and, for longer combined periods of time. And with each of the members putting on different hats to explore and expand their separate careers, it’s worth noting that the time off to pursue other interests could result in stronger interests in Sonic Youth – so we can’t really complain, can we?

Sure, we’ll continue longing for a day when all members grace the same stage at the same time again, but until then, at the risk of sounding groaningly topical following Canadian Thanksgiving, we’re getting plenty to be happy about.

Ranaldo, at least, seemed content simply to air his satisfaction with hitting the Horseshoe’s long-lived stage at the end of his show.

“It’s nice to finally play this place.”

It was nice to have you, Lee.

Lee Ranaldo & The Dust setlist
“Tomorrow Never Comes”
“Ambulancer”
“Off The Wall”
“Angles”
“Last Night On Earth”
“Xtina”
“Key/Hole”
“Hammer Blows”
“Home Chds”
“The Rising Tide”
“Revolution Blues” (Neil Young)
“Lecce, Leaving”
Encore
“She Cracked” (The Modern Lovers)
“Fire Island (Phases)”
“Waiting On A Dream”

RELATED:

 

Hillside reviews: Sarah Neufeld at Guelph Lake Island Stage – July 28, 2013

Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre violinist performs music from solo debut in Guelph

Sarah Neufeld (left) brought life partner and Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre bandmate Colin Stetson (right) onstage for a special performance of "Breathing Black Ground" amid a set of her solo material at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Sarah Neufeld (left) brought life partner and Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre bandmate Colin Stetson (right) onstage for a special performance of “Breathing Black Ground” amid a set of her solo material at Hillside Festival in Guelph, Ont. July 28. Photo: Tom Beedham

Positioned on the Island Stage at the tail end of a program of solo performances from fellow Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre bandmates Richard Reed Parry and Colin Stetson, experimental violinist Sarah Neufeld used her own time at Hillside to give a rapt audience a preview of the bulk of her upcoming solo debut, Hero Brother.

Opening her set the same way her album does, Neufeld kicked things off with hypnotic album cuts “Tower,” “Hero Brother,” and “Dirt,” then skipping over a few she’d save for the finale to jump into the contrasting “Wrong Thought” and “Right Thought.”

Having recorded the album with site-specific acoustics in Berlin, at recent performances Neufeld has requested that venues supply wooden boxes or cookie sheets for her to kick while fiddling away. But positioned atop Hillside’s Island Stage, a hollow plywood construct, Neufeld found an entirely new environment to route her songs through, by way of much more than geography.

A student of the revered Suzuki method – the highly intensive school of violin – Neufeld weaved intricately around the strings while pounding the stage with her deliberate heel blows, delivering it all from behind a deeply concentrated gaze. But the show broke highbrow when one particular stomp coincided with a small explosion to the side of the stage and Neufeld quipped about causing it with her foot.

The violinist also sliced any pretension by getting casual with the crowd in between songs.

Breaking to take a drink after “Right Thought,” Neufeld lifted her Hillside mug and drained a handsome gulp, claiming, “I need to let the muscles in my arm unseize before I play again. That’s what the beer is for, I guess.”

She quickly retracted the statement, however, to make reference to her other occupation, yoga instruction.

“No! That’s yoga!”

It all made for a fitting segue leading into “Muscle Till Death,” a song that doesn’t appear on Hero Brother’s tracklisting and suggests Neufeld’s solo album might not simply be a one-off.

She followed the track with the album’s “Forcelessness,” featuring a guest performance from Richard Reed Parry on guitar (a collaboration Neufeld announced she’d never been able to perform live before).

After that, Neufeld closed the set with Hero Brother centerpieces “Breathing Black Ground” and the beautifully melancholic “They Live On,” bringing life partner and experimental saxophonist Colin Stetson onstage with his century-old bass sax for the former and relating the experience of recording it in an abandoned geodesic dome “with lots of reverb.”

It wasn’t the last the crowd saw of Neufeld and her associates at Hillside, though; Neufeld, Parry, and Stetson all performed a special collaborative workshop with Lee Ranaldo & The Dust as well as special guests that closed out the festival at the end of the night.

Hero Brother releases August 20 via Constellation.

Setlist:
“Tower”
“Hero Brother”
“Dirt”
“Wrong Thought”
“Right Thought”
“Muscle Till Death”
“Forcelessness” (w/ Richard Reed Parry)
“Breathing Black Ground” (w/ Colin Stetson)
“They Live On”

Related:
Richard Reed Parry showcases his “Quiet River Of Dust” project at Hillside
Hillside reviews: Colin Stetson at the Island Stage – July 28, 2013
Sarah Neufeld, Richard Reed Parry, Colin Stetson perform workshop with Lee Ranaldo &The Dust
The New York Times’ Style Magazine has the video premiere for “Forcelessness”