And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – [Live]

And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead – [Live]

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Artist: And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
Venue: Lee’s Palace – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: May 3, 2011

Ten years ago, Trail of Dead was the hottest band in America. They were band that played groundbreaking progressive, alt rock, combed their black hair forward, acted like brats and smashed their guitars on stage. It was aggressive, melodic, soulful music and when you heard it you could not help but hurl yourself into the person beside with a massive smile plastered across your face. Music has changed a lot ten years; Trail of Dead perfected alternative rock just when it was at its popular end, ushering in a 180 degree turn to synth pop and Brooklyn’s dominant indie hipster scene. Trail Of Dead are still releasing records but have fallen from the public eye, all of their energy was present at Lees Palace on May 3rd but they seemed to be phoning it in slightly. Knowing that front man Conrad has stated his disdain for playing live with a preference towards a life in the studio it would explain why their performance seemed more like a job, rather than a passion.

Newbie’s Surfer Blood opened the show with a reasonable portion of the crowd there to see them specifically. Surfer Blood have a great sound mixing the sound of Pavement with bright summertime surf music, but even after a year of relentless touring they still seem a little green on stage. Their presence is a tad awkward but their running banter about their sound man’s fake birthday, pregnancy and engagement kept the crowd entertained along with their stylish licks welded with playful immaturity. But where the hell was the guy playing keys and calypso drums that’s usually with them? I guess he had another gig.

Damn! The last time Trail of Dead came to town they had two drummers and two guitarists, which added new flavour to their set. This time it was only one drummer with Jason entering the stage in a full three piece suit minus the jacket as was the touring bassist. Conrad was dressed in a stylish button up black shirt as always. Their set began with four new songs off of 2011 record Tao of the Dead which for an aging band is sort of a lacklustre set opener. Not that songs weren’t good but opening with a somewhat fan favourite is a safer choice to grip an audience, but Trail of Dead have never been a safe band and are past the point of trying to impress. It would appear for Trail of Dead to tour these days they need to entertain themselves to keep it interesting. The energetic quartet finished introducing new material and chopped through their nine song set with Fake Fake Eyes off of their debut record and only one song,” It Was There That I Saw You” off of their masterpiece Source Tags and Codes. A dedicated fan base moshed at the front of the room but the rest of the crowd was vapid as they were for Surfer Blood. Encoring with Teenhood Jason kicked through his drums and smiled as he walked off stage after a set void of Another Morning Stoner, it was a typical end to a Trail of Dead show. The smashing themed theatrics seemed forced and intentional but there was no denying the band still sounds fantastic. [Jackson Main]

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