Concert Review: Karen Kosowski w/ Sunshine State @ The Rivoli, Toronto 3/29/08

This is what happens when life interferes with entertainment:  it becomes a rapid fire of concerts squeezed in before overnight shifts in a corporate slavery machine downtown, with scarce time to revel and enjoy them… let alone blog them.  So here we go:  an attempt to play catch-up from March.

(Shameful!  If only a magazine would hire me to write and blog for a living!)

Skidding into the Rivoli’s back room on the evening of the release of one of my favourite releases of 2008, Meeting The Future At Full Speed, the cheery festive vibe is palpable, moreso than the previous CD release I attended for Karen.  Just as the album itself is lighter in spirit than its predecessor, Out Here At Sea, the actual vibe in the crowd felt airy as attendees flitted by each other.  The opener, local band Sunshine State, likely contributed their own fair share of happy-go-lucky free spirits into the mix, making for a very pleasant night.

Sunshine State’s opening set was solid, a duo effort featuring superman James Bryan, fresh from the Earth Hour festivities down the road (how he played three(!) sets there to pull another out at the Rivoli, I do not know) and the lovely Aleza Coldevin, about who I can never say enough good things.  Their usual humour and down to earth attitude carried the crowd easily into Karen’s headlining set.

Karen’s set was tight, with a highlight for me being the rare occurrence of seeing Marc Rogers, Karen’s staple of bass, abandon his usual post for keyboard magic.  He was definitely into it, as were all of us.  It was a very laid-back, ‘family gathering’ sort of atmosphere.

Factoid of the obsessive:  this was the first show since its live debut (as best as I can remember) that I did NOT hear Love & Bandaids at a show.  Whoa.


Land On Your Feet:  I started off years ago being ‘interested’ by this song, moving to ‘this is pretty sweet’ and now, it’s pretty much on my list of requisite ‘want in every setlist’ songs.  That’s a remarkable feat!  It’s perfect summer listening, and it came off strong on this night.

Tragic:  Piano Tragic owns the universe.  I need to acquire a live recording of the latest version to demonstrate the wonderful metamorphosis *coughKaren?cough*

Love You Anyway:  This song felt very strong vocally on this particular night.  It’s enjoyable and I like hearing it, but it doesn’t usually jump out at me as a set highlight.  This night was an exception.

Stars In Our Eyes:  This becomes tighter with each live performance, and Marc was particularly grooving to this track, which evoked memories of National Sound performances.  I’m also gradually adjusting to and coming to equally love the MTFAFS variation of this track (as opposed to the original National Sound take), which I’d wagered upon in my review of the disc in January.

Faded Souvenirs:  This really and truly is becoming a top 5 track for me in Karen’s catalogue, deftly cutting its way through long beloved tracks like Don’t Assume.  It has such a deliciously slow build to the intense vocals of the outro that I find irresistible.

Sunshine State’s Official Site:

Karen’s Official Site:


Thank You (For Leaving)
Booty Call
7 Months
One Night Stand

Day Job
Drug Dealer (A Love Song)


Meeting The Future At Full Speed
Land On Your Feet
Your Day Will Come
Over & Over
Life Is Short Enough
Can’t Fail Anymore
Love You Anyway
More Than A Sign
Stars In Our Eyes

Faded Souvenirs

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