High Heels Lo Fi & Skin Davey @ Cameron House, Toronto 1/12/08

Once upon a time, my friend Joe invited me to check out his friend Cynthia’s musical endeavour, High Heels Lo Fi, as part of a birthday celebration for Mark.  Never one to turn down a free music show, and trusting Joe’s taste, I happily came along.

The streetcar delayed me, but I did manage to catch a good portion of their set, and I can definitively say that I haven’t quite seen anything like this dynamic duo.  Their bio tells it straight:  formed on a whim, without any experience playing guitar, Cynthia Gould and Paisley Rae have taken to the stage, blending their spoken word skills with a healthy dash of wry, dirty humour and bluesy rock.  It’s a combination that works better than it might sound on paper, and the overall effect, between the stories and the sing-alongs, is that it’s more of a performance show than a concert.  The ladies come equipped with songbooks to facilitate the hilarity, which involves terribly fun drinking game songs (seriously;  words to drink at between singing)!  Now if that isn’t an invitation to drink and be merry, I don’t know what is.  No wait, I do:  how about a deliciously rewritten version of AC/DC’s You Shook Me (All Night Long)?  How about taking a swig to the sounds of a song about Lavalife disaster, inspired by Paisley’s work experience?

It’s not all fun and games;  there are moments that ring a little more serious and true.  But mostly, Cynthia and Paisley are playing for smiles and laughs.  And that suits me just fine.  Part poetry, part amusing life stories and all sass, High Heels Lo Fi is definitely worth checking out.  Take a jaunt to their website and check them out for yourself!

Perhaps the universe knew what was to come next, and sent High Heels Lo Fi to get us nice and drunk to staunch the pain that was Skin Davey.  Unfortunately, what I was to witness next was taken in sober, and those are minutes I will never get back.

How to describe Skin Davey?  Let’s start with the nicer version.  Picture the singer of Billy Talent hiring the band that is Sum 41, and then writing songs so cliche, you can guess the next line without ever having heard the songs.  Witness as the singer attempts to channel ‘rock star’ stage presence, only to come off as an anxiety-ridden teenager who’s terrified he’s about to discover he’s actually naked on stage!  Behold as the guitarists do a lousy imitation of the boys from Sum 41!  Marvel at the “I just rolled out of bed or came from high school gym class” appearance of the bass player!

But let’s get down to the meat of things:  the god-awful cliche drivel that the band called music.  When I can predict the exact direction the melody will go… When I can predict what bad rhyming couplet will end the next two lines…  When the only one dancing is your girlfriend and whatever unlucky friend she was dragging forcibly onto the floor (and dancing poorly, likely due to inebriation), it’s time to face it:  you’re a small town band who’s nothing spectacular outside of your home space.  In Cobourg, I wager these boys are pretty popular with the locals;  in Toronto, however, they’re just carbon-copy small fish in a really big pond, with nothing remarkable to speak of.  Even the cover songs were so god-awful I actually took the time to send in a distress call via Facebook status message (It went a little something like “Live music hell, party of 3?  Your table is ready.”).  I watched three of my beloved party songs be horribly butchered (Gel by Collective Soul, complete with lyric screw-ups;  Bounce by Danko Jones; and What I Like About You by The Romantics, which inspired my friend and I to sing along like so:  ‘What I don’t like about you/You won’t stop singing crap’).  I’ve seriously only seen two other bands suck this hard at a show, and I’ve seen several HUNDRED shows.

To add to their failure as a band, their tag-along supporters not only yapped through High Heels Lo Fi’s set, but chose to sit at the very front table and talk ridiculously loud.  If you can’t even muster up some respect for the other performers on stage with you, then you simply do not have the professionalism to make it in this business.  Indie artists only thrive by supporting each other, not undermining each other.

I suppose their quasi-emo music was effective;  I certainly felt like slitting my wrists at the end of their set.

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