The Pop Group In Toronto

March 16, 2015 at 3:02 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

What was punk all about any way? Was it about destroying the orthodoxy in order to impose a new one, or was it about something new. About allowing new things to emerge, about breaking rules, and seeing what happened as a result. Although the former quickly came to dominate with endless dreary debates about who was more “punk”, punk was really about the latter. As such a lot of bands ho weren’t really “punk” whatever that means, were punk. So the Pop Group, who would not figure in traditional acocunts of what punk was, were a part of that movement. I never saw the Pop Group when they were around in the seventies (though I did see Mark Stewart a few years later), so I didn’t want to miss them this time around.

New Fries came on around 10:00 with three of the members dressed all in white, but the singer-guitarists apparently dressed in civies. Shouted vocals, off-kilter rhythms combined with drone made for lots to love. But there was also a little between song banter that came across as forced, and detracted from the overall effect. Apparently there was a cassette for sale, but I missed out of that. Definitely a band to watch.

Next were Fresh Snow who also played a post-punkish brand of songs with a driving intensity. The songs tended to have experimental intros and then Sonic Youth like blasts of energy. Very cool. Oddly enough though, the banded uttered not a single word to the audience. No words in the songs, no thank yous and not even a goodnight as they left the stage. Two members spent much of the set with their backs to the audience.  Not a problem exactly, just struck me as unusual.

The Pop Group arrived at midnight. As I said, I never saw the band in its original incarnation, but I did buy For How Much Longer when it came out. I might have heard something on Peel or read something in the NME, but I was curious. A lot of strange sounds and certainly like nothing else I’d bought (the Last Poets track was pretty cool though), and the fact it came with four posters was a nice touch. Flash forward and we’re at Lee’s.

And the show was pretty amazing. To begin with the sound at Lee’s was spot on. Sometimes, the mix at Lee’s can be muddy, but last night it was crystal clear. Mark Stewart’s vocals came straight through the sounds. So as you bopped your head or moved on the  floor, you got the message too. The band started with “We are All Prostitutes,” and played an hour of choice cuts from the new album (which sadly they did not have copies for sale) along with old favourites. Who knew old white men could still be so funky?

Set list

1. We are all prostitutes
2. Citizen Zombie
3. Thief of Time
4. Mad Truth
5. S.O.P.H.I.A.
6. Words Disobey Me
7. Don’t Sell your Dreams
8. Nowhere Girl
9. She is Beyond Good and Evil
10. Shadow Child
11. Spanish Inquisition
12. Age of Miracles
13. Trap
14. We are Time

Where There’s a Will


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