Wavelength 2014: Day Three (including Gambletron, Petra Glynt, US Girls, + more)

Colin Stetson
Colin Stetson | Photo by Scott Irvine

Night 3 of the Wavelength Music Festival I spent in the Polish Combatants Hall, which as a venue seems rather out of place, but in fact is like a smaller, more open concept version of Lee’s Palace or the Danforth Music Hall. The night’s lineup began with the Montreal-based Gambletron, whose gadgets made music that was more sound art than anything, consisting of electronic fuzz, noise, distortion, and feedback effects. With a Hannibal Lector-esque vocal distortion device strapped to her face, Gamble seemed to create music that didn’t appear easily re-creatable, changing as soon as it became predictable. This years Wavelength was a festival about off-beat electronic, other worldly music, celebrating the ability of music to raise us out of the mundane drudgery of daily existence, taking us to the uncharted region where sound and art collide. I simultaneously despised the people who sat on the floor and those who stood but plugged their ears.

Petra Glynt took the stage and the people rose and clustered around her. Her remarkably deep voice resonated powerfully, providing the driving energy of the show, which was matched by her drums. And oh the drums! African, Indigenous, Aborigine, however you would describe it, it was there. A beat machine and pair of drums were used to create a powerful base, and Glynt is more than capable of creating good backing beats, but her vocals sometimes appeared too overpowering and the rhythm was a bit confusing.

In a radically different direction, Biblical took us to the world of all things grunge. Can you say Black Sabbath? I mean, this band has got it all, black outfits, long hair, killer guitar riffs. Maybe less grunge and more radical, trippy, out there rock, fond of the tried and true screech guitar. (I say embrace the screaming feedback). Pretty old school kind of nostalgic music, in a sense. And everyone likes good old-fashioned rock (we all secretly wished, that night at least, that we could be that close to Black Sabbath).

US Girls had a slow start, with a repetitive song but excellent lead vocals (Blondie, is there a Blondie here?). The general style of the band was slow, lumbering along, with wavering vocals that were perhaps not as controlled as Debbie Harry’s, but still incredibly promising.

Colin Stetson closed night 3 down with sax, sax, sax (not sex, sex, sex). It was a saxual talent show. It was classical music trapped in bubbles, released intermittently over the audience. It was computer generated images using sax alone. Certainly, it looked a little silly, a singular singer and his sax on the stage (it was hard to imagine a full-length show of solo sax), but the sound on its own was made up of dreamscapes and that was enough to maintain interest. Stetson sings through the sax, which is extraordinary, and it seemed like he would run out of some serious air. I think half the crowd was wondering if he was going to pass out. Maybe sax looks silly because it is not the traditional guitar, and maybe that’s just what Wavelength is all about. Stetson was even able to create deep, resonating, explosive, looming, thunderous loops of sound using his sax, and sounded at some points remarkably similar to an electric guitar (while still looking silly). The bass caused by this vibrated our brains to jelly and then we stumbled home.

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Emily Fox | @foxyfoxe

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