For years Toronto has been Canada’s premiere melting pot of culture: a bubbling cauldron of creativity that occasionally belches forth searing hot goblets of innovation that leave permanent blisters on the musical landscape of the wider world.
The last decade has seen the likes of Crystal Castles, Death From Above 1979 and BADBADNOTGOOD spurt out of the city, fully-formed and utterly unique. Now it’s the turn of helter-skelter art punks Weaves to break out and take their individual style of unpredictable rock ‘n’ roll round the wider world. After a triumphant pair of sets at the End of the Road festival, Weaves have now embarked upon an extensive European tour with fellow Torontonians (Torontans? Torontoids?) Dilly Dally to introduce global audiences to tracks from their new, self-titled album. Frontwoman Jasmyn Burke is delighted to be traipsing around Europe with their friends from Dilly Dally, “It’s like being on the road with your family,” she assures me from the Vera venue in Gronigen, Netherlands, “it’s comforting to be surrounded by people you know well. We’re also psyched to be bonding with the crew!”
It’s a good job that Weaves enjoy the mixed blessings of permanent companionship that life on the road can offer, especially given that they still all have to share a bedroom at each stop. “Tonight we’ll just be curling up and sleeping in our amps” guitarist Morgan Waters tells me, only partially jokingly. When asked about what she would make sure to include on any future tour where money might be less of an issue, Jasmyn pines wistfully for her own room apart from the rest of the Weaves boys (preferably with massages and a hot tub). Morgan’s needs are more basic, “probably just, like, liquorice. As much as I could buy!”
It looks as though their next visit to Europe will have to be a more extravagant affair, judging by the rate at which they are winning fans over on the live circuit. This is in large part due to Jasmyn’s uniquely combatative stage presence: she has garnered a fearsome reputation dashing into the audience to lock eyes with audience members, as though attempting to stare deep into their souls. “I think it’s important to connect to people, to get them out of their comfort zone,” she explains, “people spend so much time staring down at their phones, not making eye contact with anyone. Concerts should be about honesty and experiencing the moment together!” To Morgan, this is where the punk roots of their uniquely scatterbrained art-rock come into play. “You’ve gotta lead by attitude,” he reasons, “We try to invite people into our little world for 40 minutes.”
Vital to this ethos, of course, are Weaves’ songs. These range hugely in style and substance but always retain a unique energy that lends itself to their “off the cuff” (Morgan’s words) live iterations. There’s the wink-and-a-nod wordplay of crowd favourite ‘Sentence’, the overdriven attack of ‘One More’ and the self-pitying wail of ‘Shithole’. The last of these taps into the door-slamming angst of teenagerhood more convincingly than anything since the 90s’ heyday of sulk-rock. “It’s a celebration of feeling sorry for yourself,” laughs Jasmyn when questioned about the track, “I guess sometimes I’m just in a crummy mood and want to take that feeling and cast it out into the world!”
Don’t write off Weaves as mopey purveyors of overwrought emo just yet, give a listen to the unbridled joy of ‘Birds & Bees’ or ‘Eagle’ and you’ll find a band just as capable of channelling untainted optimism as they are of penning downbeat yelp-fests. Weaves are a band of many facets, and they are happy for you to stare.
WHERE: Toronto, Canada
WHAT: Whirling dervish frenetic art-rock
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Shithole’, ‘Two Oceans’, ‘Birds & Bees’
FACT: Morgan directs and acts in small films back in Toronto. In one he plays a musician with terrible, flat ironed hair but he swears that his creative work is not informed by his reality.
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Words: Josh Gray