GIG REVIEW: HAKEN, Thank You Scientist & Astral Bell Live at The Mod Clud, Toronto
The Mod Club in Toronto has played host to many fantastic shows over the years, but Haken’s performance on September 1st is going to be hard to top. With local openers Astral Bell getting the Toronto Prog name out there, and New Jersey’s Thank You Scientist amping up the crowd, the venue was instantly packed with energy and excitement.
While I’m usually only a fan of Thank You Scientist’s instrumentally-driven, jazzy material, the live vocals were clean and worked better than I had expected. The bass in particular was tight, with the trumpet and sax adding so much personality to the already funky and upbeat performance. Although they split up their set list relatively evenly between this year’s ‘Stranger Heads Prevail’ and 2012’s ‘Maps of Non-Existent Places’, they also surprised the crowd with a cover of The Beatles’ classic, “I Am The Walrus”.
As pumped as the audience was for Thank You Scientist, the hysteria tripled as the lights dimmed, and Haken took the stage. As predicted, they opened with the first two tracks off of the recently-released ‘Affinity’ (Read Our Review): the spacey intro, “Affinity.exe”, and one of my personal favourites, “Initiate”, which was a definite highlight of the night, despite the missing vocal polyrhythm that usually appears in the song. The overall set list turned out to primarily be a mix of the latest album and ‘The Mountain’, including “Falling Back To Earth”, “Pareidolia”, and fan-favourite “1985”.
“The Architect” in particular sent fans into a frenzy, evolving into a sort of interpretive dance mosh pit as everyone screamed lyrics up at frontman Ross Jennings. Already impressed with his vocal performance, I was incredibly excited to hear Jennings’ rare beastly growl in the place of Einar Solberg’s album guest spot. The combination of that and the flawless execution of every single member of Haken took an epic evening to a whole other level. If that wasn’t enough, they also did an impeccable job with “Cockroach King”, both the band and crowd feeding off each other’s energy. As Haken immediately left the stage, the fans chanted for an encore, eagerly awaiting what was sure to be a tremendous finale. And it was, for few songs could close the set as well as the much beloved “Celestial Elixir”.
Jennings’ glowing pink and green glasses, a thrilling set list, and the simplicity of how much fun Haken always seem to have on stage were just a few aspects that made this quite a memorable show. All three bands put on an exceptional display and made sure that the horde of prog fans went home satisfied. As obvious as it is, if you get the chance to witness these guys in action, I strongly suggest that you do not pass it up.