Concert Review + Photos: Craft Spells, The Bilinda Butchers, and Sahara @ Hard Luck – Toronto

Craft Spells
Craft Spells played on Tuesday at the Hard Luck Bar with the Bilinda Butchers and Sahara.

Typing the name Sahara into Google doesn’t come up with a lot of info. Well it does, but the information I found was mostly about the African desert and not about the Toronto-based band that opened the concert the other night. Their music was a little dark, being carried along by the moving, rhythmic bass lines, while twin guitars played ethereally over them and the pre-programed drum lines. This combination of sonic features added a feeling of space and distance to the sound that reminded me of driving through the desert at night. While their internet presence seems almost non-existent at the moment, hopefully we’ll hear more from them in the coming months.

The Bilinda Butchers from San Francisco came up next. The singer began the set by asking if the lights could be lowered. Heavily effected guitar swirled out from the stage, building into the first song. The drums and bass held down the rhythm while guitars echoed and shimmered, washing over the audience. As the music flowed over them, the crowd let out cheers and swayed back and forth (one girl at the front played air guitar triumphantly the entire set) and even though there were a couple of technical difficulties (the levels kept changing throughout their set), the atmosphere was infectious and soon Ben (the photographer) and I were cheering along with everyone else. Borrowing their name from Bilinda Butcher of My Bloody Valentine the singer also had a similar vocal style as if he had just woken up from a dream and was trying to describe it from in the middle of this effervescent cloud of pop music.

The technical difficulties that had bothered the Bilinda Butchers boomeranged back during Craft Spells. Beset by mic and monitor problem it became clear that Justin Vallesteros, the front man, was not pleased. “Damnit it sounds like shit!” he exclaimed obviously getting frustrated with what he heard coming back at him from the monitors. What we heard in the audience though was awesome. Drawing aspects from many different sources, the music was synphonic, full of layers and little details that moved and shifted through the songs, which while upbeat seemed tinged with a sweet melancholy. Throughout the set people in the crowd shouted encouragements and professed their love for the band while they danced around. It got a little odd when near the end the woman standing next to me started twerking on the man she was there with, which at the time seemed like an odd thing to do at a chillwave show. It still seems strange several days later, but to each their own.

Despite the myriad of technical problems that seemed to pop up at this show, I left feeling good, like spring had come 3 days early and I can guarantee that all three of these bands will be played heavily on any road trips I take this summer.

Craft Spells | Interview

The Bilinda Butchers


For our interview with Craft Spells, click here.

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Photos by Benjamin Telford (bentelfordphoto) | Review by Tristan Johnston

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