Friday, 30 March 2012

Review - Band of Skulls (Toronto, ON)

Band of Skulls w/ We Are Augustines
Phoenix Concert Theatre
Toronto, ON
Friday, March 31, 2012

Southampton rockers Band of Skulls returned to Toronto for their second show in six months at the sold out Phoenix Concert Theatre on Friday night after previously filling out the intimate Garrison back in September. The band consists of Russell Marsden on guitar, Emma Richardson on bass, Matt Hayward furiously on drums with the former two sharing vocal responsibilities.

Fresh off the release of their sophomore album (Sweet Sour) the group has clearly grown as a tighter live act, not as if they were struggling previously, but it's extremely cool to see this band on the rise. After road-testing their material and even touring with the Black Keys this past winter it is evident that they mean business.

Balancing out the set with tracks from their debut release (Baby Darling Doll Face Honey) they started off the evening with the thunderous title track of their newest album and never let up. Continuing along with "Lies" they revisited older tracks "Patterns" and "Fires" before returning to the new material. After the new single "Bruises" and "Wanderluster" came the powerful "Cold Fame" which completely engaged the Toronto crowd and allowed us to settle down.

One of the highlights I had from the Garrison show was the closing of the main set which wrapped up with the first three tracks from the previous album, but on this night they had more material to dip into and they certainly did. After another of their slow-building tracks ("Lay My Head Down") came their first single "I Know What I Am" which set off a very energetic finale to the main set. Following was the newer "You're Not Pretty But You Got It Goin' On" before jumping into fan favourites "Light of the Morning" and "Death by Diamonds and Pearls" to finish up.

After a quick break they returned to the stage to send the crowd home happy with recent single "The Devil Takes Care Of His Own" and "Impossible".

When I saw the band in April 2010 they really impressed me and made me want to revisit the studio material because of how powerful it came across in the live setting. In September they delivered a set which included older material and tracks off of their newer release which have really fleshed out well since that time. After filling up the 300-person Garrison in September they sold out the Phoenix tonight which holds 1,100 fans, so the window of opportunity to see them in intimate settings may be shrinking.

I was very relieved by tonight's show as I wasn't originally certain how the new material would go over, but thankfully they knocked it out of the park and I am excited to throw on Sweet Sour in the morning.

Highly, highly recommend checking them out when they come to town.

New York's We Are Augustines delivered a pretty solid opening set with tracks from their 2011 debut release We Are Sunken Ships. I will certainly be checking out that one and am optimistic.

Sweet Sour
Cold Fame
Lay My Head Down
Hollywood Bowl
I Know What I Am
You're Not Pretty But You Got It Goin' On
Light of the Morning
Death by Diamonds and Pearls

The Devil Takes Care Of His Own

Album Breakdown:
Baby Darling Doll Face Honey: 10
Sweet Sour: 7

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