Concert Review: The Cliks and Wintersleep @ Yonge-Dundas Square (NXNE), Toronto 6/19/09

There’s only one thing better than a good concert, my dears:  a FREE good concert.

As part of the NXNE festivities, Sirius presented a series of free sets on their stage at Yonge-Dundas Square, featuring some of the hottest acts secured by the event.  That right there deserves a special note of acknowledgement from my pocketbook:  any music festival that allows you the opportunity to see GZA from Wu-Tang Clan for free alongside hot rising stars like The Cliks and Wintersleep is a festival that actually still cares about the fans, at least a little.  Nicely played, NXNE.

I decided to swing down and check out the aforementioned Wintersleep and The Cliks on Friday night’s schedule.  I’d seen The Cliks before at a Toronto Pride event (also free) and enjoyed their energy, and Weighty Ghost by Wintersleep alone had me convinced to give them a try.

First up, The Cliks.  Fronted by trans-singer Lucas Silveira, The Cliks deliver a grungy punk-pop sound blended with a more bluesy folk undercurrent.  The end result is what I imagine would happen if Melissa Etheridge collaborated with Karen O. – and it’s a good thing.  Belting his way through older tracks and a heavy sampling of their new release Dirty King, Lucas demonstrated why The Cliks are worth taking notice of:  stage presence.  I’m not going to tell you that their songwriting is particularly innovative or brilliant;  it is solid and incredibly enjoyable.  The Cliks live, however, bring that proverbial ‘it’, leaving you shaking your ass and nodding along enthusiastically without any reservations.  They’re the band you wish would play your local bar every Saturday.  Some artists are simply made for the live circuit, and Lucas Silveira definitely fronts one of them.  Speaking again of Melissa Etheridge, how on earth has she not considered bringing this Toronto-based act along for a tour?  Their sounds would gel beautifully, and I can only imagine the duets that could happen (I would LOVE to see a Like The Way I Do combo of these voices).

The cliks.com is your source for more information, videos and all sorts of fun.

Closing that night’s sets were Halifax’s Wintersleep, a band that blends the airy folk sensibilities of Jens Lekman with a more progressive ethereal sound remiscent of Arcade Fire’s Funeral.  I’d scanned a few reviews before attending and noted that, above all else, this band was known for delivering a live show.  I have to say that they do just that, stretching short songs into epic instrumental jams and harmonies that remind me of Roger Waters and his ilk.  One slips into a trance as they perform, the mind wandering away into another plane and train of thought, each jam building steadily, the music layering back upon itself.  I would compare it to M83, minus the electronic 80’s vibe.  Their studio work does not even begin to touch what happens when this band hits the stage;  it is truly magical, and an example of what a live show should do – it should transform the music, making the live show worth the experience.

wintersleep.com is the place to go to learn more about this band.

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