CMW 2011: The Balconies @ Lee's Palace by Adam Bunch

SATURDAY - You probably don't know this about us yet, since the 2011 Canadian Music Week was The Little Red Umbrella's first festival, but we pretty much never give up an opportunity to see the Balconies play at one of these things. We caught them twice in the last few days: first for a short afternoon set in the lobby of the Toronto Underground Cinema and then again Saturday night for their showcase at Lee's Palace. We never get tired of them. You see, they're about the thing we keeping hearing rock 'n' roll used to be about—back in the days before it became about elaborate orchestration and obscure literary references and beards. The Balconies are about sex. It just happens to come in the form of a hook-ladden indie rock three-piece.

It helps, of course, that the fellows is this particular three-piece—bassist Stephen Neville and drummer Liam Jaeger—are damned good looking. And it doesn't hurt that they wear pants so tight you can make out the shape of the keys in their pockets. Or that guitarist Jacquie Neville looks like an Almost Famous-era Zooey Deschanel. But it's her stage presence more than anything that keeps us coming back.

The Balconies' sound is fairly standard 21st century indie rock, but Neville has clearly learned a thing or two from the hair metal of the '70s. She threw herself around the stage at Lee's on Saturday night with abandon, as she always does, her hair a swirling blur, her guitar flying around her neck while her fingers raced up and down the strings. She screamed and growled and moaned. She thrusted. Repeatedly. With her hips.

And we ate it up, like we always do, went home and listened to their record a bunch of times, and can't wait till we get to do it again.

Photos: Adam Bunch

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. He's been on the Polaris Prize jury, lectured at Trampoline Hall and written for PopMatters, Crawdaddy!, 24 Hours and a whole bunch of other places. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at


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