Nothing says trying to relive your youth like heading out to a downtown bar on a work night to see the latest English buzz-band. But there I was. Still, it was the Horseshoe Tavern (one of the best places to see live music in Toronto), it was Friday the following day (so almost the weekend), and the word about the Palma Violets was so good, it seemed like a good idea.
I missed the opening band Always, but caught the last three songs of the second opener Decades. The band played a melodic pop that reminded me of early eighties Canadian new wave. The half-full Horseshoe responded appreciatively.
Then onto the main event. The Palma Violets formed in England in 2011, but it was last year that their star began to rise. The New Musical Express championed them as the band to watch. Now, between the ages of 14 and 17, I read the NME every week; religiously. I loved the paper, and it’s still worth a read (I just subscribe to the newsletter now), but one of the annoying things about the paper is the build-them-up-knock-them-down syndrome. Maybe that’s what Palma Violets are in for soon, but for now they are definitely buzz-worthy. Based on the live show and a 7 inch single, “Best of friends,” the band created an intense buzz. so much so that they’re touring North America without a full length album, and pointedly at the horseshoe show not even a merch table.
Very quickly, the Horseshoe was full. I had already staked out my spot near the front of the stage, so when the band came on stage at 11:00 I was ready to be impressed. But the first song didn’t do it for me. It was good, but ramshakcle in its deliver. Good, but not exactly transcendental. “That was just for practice” muttered bass player Chilli Jesson. Oh yeah? Yeah, because suddenly they were “on” and each song (sorry no song titles from me not even Setlist.com could help) seemed better from the last. The band played a kinetic garage punk, but with keyboards, rolling drums, and extended guitar parts, the band showed it wasn’t afraid to flirt with psychedelic and even prog sounds. And we responded.
The band played a tight forty-minute set with no encore (the price you pay for seeing new bands,- they only have so many songs), and things were done by quarter to 12. I’m not sure if Palma Violets will last or whether they are simply the flavour of the month; I will predict though that their first album, our on Rough Trade records in February, will be quite amazing.