by Riaz Charania / Photos by Michael Silvestre
Mozart's sister
Halfway through the Mozart’s Sister show someone from the crowd exclaimed, “Your music is awesome!”, a moment of spontaneity that rang completely true. Sure talking about the halfway point of a set may be an odd way to start a review, but walking into the sparsely attended venue thirty minutes prior, I had no idea that my mind was about to be blown.

There are many different reasons people are captivated by a band or a performance. Sometimes it’s the stage set up, sometimes it’s how the artist connects with the crowd, sometimes it’s because the songs are good, and sometimes, more rare than not, it’s because the raw talent of the artist is undeniable. That was the case with Mozart’s Sister.

While the stage setup was captivating with a simple, hazy and ethereal atmosphere, it was Caila Thompson-Hannant’s voice which took over the venue, making most in attendance stop in their tracks with a voice that would make Annie Lennox envious. However, stopping in their tracks isn’t something the crowd did for long, whether they wanted to or not. The otherworldly soulfulness of the vocals, combined with beats as chunky as her and her backup singer’s gold chains, clearly made an impression on the crowd. At one point I even imagined myself watching them at Toronto’s now defunct club, Circa, in the best way possible.

Although I had only heard a few Mozart’s sister songs leading up to the show, as well as read about their Osheaga set, I quickly realized that to truly appreciate her is to see and hear her live. You will exclaim, “your music is awesome!” whether that dialogue is internal or not.

Twin Shadow
George Lewis Jr. is a man on a mission, which is evident in the evolution Twin Shadow’s recorded material, as well as how that is translated live.

The last time I had the opportunity to see them was at Mod Club in Toronto, not long after the release of the 2010 debut, Forget. When you love an album as much as I loved, Forget it’s sometimes hard for that to translate live. Although I enjoyed that Mod Club show, I left thinking that it was a bit too clean, a bit too cool, a bit too perfect. There were no real moments where they lost themselves or had that freak out moment.

That all changed in Halifax.

Kicking off the set with “Five Seconds” from 2012’s Confess the band tore their way through a catalogue of old and new, but this time it didn’t feel mechanical. With their talented workhorse, Andy Bauer setting the tone, and George laying down some of the wildest and appropriately over-the-top guitar solos I’ve heard in a while, the band seamlessly transitioned there way through their set, ending with a feverish version of, ‘Castles in the Snow,’ a personal favourite of mine.

The evolution of Twin Shadow’s music was also on display, as they played a handful of new songs, including their anthemic single, “To The Top”. Admittedly I wasn’t sure how I felt about the song when I first heard it, or when I saw the performance on Conan earlier this year. To me it seemed like he was going for something a bit too obvious, a bit too radio ready.

However, it quickly occurred to me how ridiculous that conclusion was. At the end of the day, good songwriting is good songwriting. And George Lewis Jr. is a really good songwriter, who puts on one hell of a show.