CMW 2011: Austra @ Wrongbar by Katya Verikaitis

THURSDAY - The most interesting thing about Toronto-based Austra is the vibe that they manage to create amongst the different audiences they play for. Thursday was certainly an interesting one, as a technical difficulty onstage delayed the set for almost 20 minutes. However, since the extremely varied and eccentrically captivating members of the band have already musically established themselves in the Toronto music scene (Katie Stelmanis – previously recorded with Bruce Peninsula and Fucked Up, Maya Potepski formerly of Galaxy and Dorian Wolf, former Spiral Beach bassist), the anticipation and patience in the crowd stayed strong and made the wait well worth it.

With a pair of striking back-up vocalists to enhance Stelmanis’ opera-influenced voice and a remarkably smooth keyboardist to support the trio for the evening, Austra set off a series of events as soon as the sound problem was dealt with. Multiple cameras in every direction began popping off pictures, beers and fists were pumped into the air and the crowd surrounding the stage danced as though they were at a dark, underground dance club somewhere in the middle of Europe. Austra’s sound is extremely house/electronic influenced and is highlighted by the fact that Stelmanis’ voice acts as an instrument on it’s own, soaring from the front to the back of the room. As the rhythm of the set escalated, the movements of the individuals in the band became one collective with the beat. Since Stelmanis also graciously had to give up the use of her keyboard for the evening, her physical interaction with the music became the most interesting thing to watch onstage. By the time the well-known track “Beat and the Pulse” came on, it was impossible not to sway your hips a tad sensually to the appropriately pulsating melody of the song.

Recently signed to Domino Records, Austra is beginning to really catch people’s attention within Canadian music. It was only appropriate that it was pouring rain all evening – the atmosphere outside was almost complimented with the band’s invitingly dark and magical sounds. The overall attitude they adopted while waiting for the sound problem to be dealt with was professional and patient. The attitude they jumped into as soon as the music began was that of what you would expect from any great band – “Ok. No nonsense. Let’s play a fucking show and stretch our hands to the sky as we dance.”

Photos: Stephanie Cloutier

Katya Verikaitis is an independent filmmaker and has worked on several films such as Grey Bruce and the F*uckbuddies. You can read more of her posts here.

Stephanie Cloutier is a photographer, writer, and a wannabe lady of leisure. Her work has appeared in NOW Magazine, blogTO and SoundProof Magazine. You can find her posts here, find more of her work on her website here, follow her on Twitter (@stephcloutier) and e-mail her at


CodyMcGraw said...

great job, Katya! and the photos look great, Steph.

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