It's a bit pornographic to watch Black Diamond Bay frontman Patrick Krief play guitar. Not that he full-on sexualizes things like Prince, but the man definitely makes a serious O Face while rocking out on his instrument. Actually, so does drummer George Donoso, who is somewhere on the intensity scale between Keith Moon and Animal. This was the last of BDB's three NYC shows, their first real American assault since going from being a Krief solo project — he and Donoso were both in The Dears up until a year or so ago — into a new and destinct entity.
That said, Black Diamond Day aren't entirely dissimilar to The Dears. The '70s glam drama, an epic swagger, but Krief and Donoso were intrinsic to the sound of that band's last two albums — and what helped make them such a powerhouse live (and whose departure has left a hole I'm not sure that can ever really be filled). As Krief put it after the show, "George and I left our stink on them." And vise-versa. While they are still developing as songwriters, Black Diamond Bay are already a powerhouse live. Tight as hell, they definitely knock you back a little. Of course, part of that is the volume at which they play, which is set at Stadium. But's it's mostly the skill and passion. And the O Face.
It was an all-Canadian night at Pianos put together by the folks at the Musebox. Fellow Montrealers The High Dials had probably the biggest draw the three bill line-up, and deservedly so — they were great. Admittedly, I'm a sucker for what they do: hazy '60s psych/country with spot-on harmonies and a healthy dose of druggy drone. (The band didn't tour with The Brian Jonestown Massacre for nothing.) I knew the name but thought I was unfamiliar with until they took stage, then I realized I'd seen them before, though I can't place where or when. And when I got home I found 2005 last album, War of the Wakening Phantoms, in my collection, which upon listening again I totally remember. And hopefully they'll be back soon, as their new double-album, Moon Country, is pretty great and has been listened to about six times today. I won't forget them again.
The official headliners were Ottowa's Hilotrons whose album Happymatic was on the "long list" for this year's Polaris Music Prize which eventually went to Caribou's Andora. (Did you ever watch my video of "Sandy"?) I know that a lot of people compare them to Tokyo Police Club and Franz Ferdinand (well that's what I read) but to me they sound like a band who could have been signed to I.R.S. in 1980 — a little Wall of Voodoo, a smidge of Skafish, and a lot of Oingo Boingo (minus the horns). (The singer sounds a little like Dick Valentine or maybe Eddie Money.) All things I like but I think I'm going to need a little more emersion for it all to sink in. They are definitely fun, though.