Show Review: Austra @ The Phoenix

Austra Entrances The Phoenix

(Photo Credit- Dylan Leeder, BlogTO)

Dec 1, 2011

In one short year, Toronto’s Austra has gone from headlining at the Bovine Sex Club to nearly selling out the Phoenix Concert Theatre. Of course, having a Polaris Short List nomination probably had something to do with it. And though supporting acts, Tasseomancy and Young Galaxy deserved equal attention, they were likely missed by a large portion of the audience due to the venue’s complete inability to move a lineup, even hours after doors open.
 
At ten minutes to midnight, lead singer Katie Stelmanis unceremoniously appears with drummer Maya Postepski. The two launch into the piano-driven ‘The Beast’; its quiet, brooding beauty reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails. The tempo increases dramatically as Dorian Wolf, Ryan Wonsiak and backup singers Sari and Romy Lightman of Tasseomancy filter in.
 
Katie is an anomaly, she’s like a gypsy Lady Gaga, an opera singer turned electronic goddess and she makes lyrics like “I came so hard in your mouth” sound classy. Her natural vocal talent allows her to focus on creating an overall performance. When she’s not standing rigid at the front of the stage, conducting herself like a proper opera star might, she’s pulsating to the beat with Sari and Romi, who double as backup dancers. The three of them flail arms, sway, bounce and dance earthily to the beat, as one might do alone in their bedroom. Their nearly flawless harmonies make it difficult to believe that it’s actually a live performance.
 
Despite the appreciative cheering between songs, it’s hard to tell if the packed room is into the show or not. After all, it’s not exactly sing-along music. And though there’s obvious loosening-up as the night goes on, Katie remarks on the lack of dancing in the “sober section” up front. ‘The Beat and the Pulse’ proves to be the fan favourite; the room (temporarily) exploding with movement.
 
The set, culminated by ‘The Future’ encompassed almost the entirety of Feel It Break, with the exception of ‘Shoot the Water’. The addition of B-Sides ‘Young and Gay’ and ‘Identity’ rounded out the barely one-hour show. Though there’s only so much material a one-album band can pull off, the night felt truncated. But luckily, if Austra continues on their upward trajectory, we can expect a longer set and even better venue the next time they come home.
 

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About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on December 19, 2011, in Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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