Last Friday, January 10th, La Sala Rossa was packed to the brim with a hearty audience of local musicians, radio hosts, artists and eclectic bands of music lovers ready for the release of local wave makers Archery Guild’s sophomore album: Manitòk.
Launching the evening with spirited gusto was The Walls are Blonde, a solo project by artist David Kleiser of Toronto/Montreal band Blood. Kleiser also happens to be the illustrator behind the amazing cover art for Manitòk. His stage presence has a spellbinding quality, gathering the attention of newcomers to the guitar and melody. He weaves in a way that frankly leaves me with unshakeable envy. The Walls are Blonde was joined by buds to end his set, jolting everyone into a sing along with a rendition of Dreams by The Cranberries.
Next up was Snooker Emporium, whom I’d never seen live and frankly (read:wrongly) underestimated. The projections playing during Snooker Emporiums set led to a kind of revelry. Blending several genres, there were elements of a psychedelic (trippy) nature that added a laid back quality to their more mercurial rock moments. Overall, Snooker Emporium played a tight, well-rehearsed set and has earned a spot on my radar as a very promising local act.
Up next was the main event, Archery Guild, the seven-piece headed by the ever-magnetic Michael Cota took to the stage to present Manitòk, a concept album based on a dream-legend envisioned and realized by Cota. There is a definite transformation of their sound since Archery Guild’s last album, DIN. The energetic chaos and noise elements of the former have made way for a still energetic but slightly pop and cleaner sound. The arrangements are stellar, the musicians talented, and the melodies are catchy. Favourite tunes: Blood Comfort and Cold Trail.
The visual performance intertwined with the musical to such a degree that I felt transfixed – audiovisual high. The group’s attire was amazing (hand sewn by Cota): tunics ranging in colours and hues, face paints, colourful and wild hair, and most stunning of all, Cota pantsless in a super sweet red tunic.
Avatars for the characters of the album’s journey, they turned the stage into a mythical place; the band became a sort of musical tribe with one foot in the dreamworld of Manitok and the other on Sala Rossa’s stage playing for a euphoric crowd. They blew it out of the water.
By the time latest act Look Vibrant to the stage, I was sweaty, sporting a huge grin and definitely distracted by Dionysus. I’ll have to see them play another show before giving my two cents.
Like Snooker Emporium, I distinctly remembering feeling like I’d misread them based on virtual first impressions. Lessons learned. One, I need to re-calibrate my musical compass and two, I need to try and not party as hard when reviewing evenings of kick ass musical debauchery.