Concert Review: God is an Astronaut @ Lee’s Palace, Toronto, Ontario

Irish instrumental/post-rock band God is an Astronaut stopped by Lee’s Palace in Toronto last night. Formed in 2002, God is an Astronaut took its name from an adapted quote in the movie Nightbreed. Originally consisting of 3 members, the band replaced the drummer, and added a full time keyboard player for their tours. After a European tour, the band hopped the Atlantic and hopped for a better tour than 2008, when their equipment was stolen after their last concert in New Jersey. The Toronto crowd needed to bring the energy, as God is an Astronaut reported moshing and crowd surfing at their recent show in New York City. I found this a bit surprising, given the somewhat sort loud and heavy parts of their songs.

The band was backed by a projection screen, often showing dueling visuals in two different circles. For the longest time, the band didn’t engage in any real banter or stage talk. I guess when you only use the mic for a vocoder effect, your desire to chat is limited. Besides, the band was here to rock, not talk. Other clich├ęs are welcomed, too.

The most obvious and perhaps surprising difference between their studio albums and their live shows was how heavy the band was. Boy are they fat! This explained the moshing and crowd surfing. With post-punk instrumental music, a lot of the songs are built on the slow, gradual rise in noise and instrumentation, with the sweet payoff at the end of the song. God is an Astronaut tend to write their music more like a traditional rock song, with the impact lessened due to the quickness in which they change from soft to heavy. However, their heavy parts often last 8 or 16 bars. Maybe I overlooked the possibilities or categorization of ‘loud’ parts, as their songs were very often loud, heavy and relentless in a live setting, and definitely not in a bad way. In one aspect, it was like seeing an entirely different band.

The keyboards were causing some technical difficulties, and around song 10, a short break was held in order to patch things up. Lead guitars and ‘vocals’, Torsten Kinsella, mentioned how the band stopped by Niagara Falls on their way up, which was very cool for them. He also gave way to a drum solo by Michael Fenton to help pass some time. Solo aside, Fenton killed it (for lack of a professional, eloquent word) all night, hammering away at the drums, and moving his legs like Usain Bolt at times.

The band plowed through 12 songs in an hour and came out for a one song encore. Songs included Route 666, Shadows, Fire Flies and Empty Skies, Age of the Fifth Sun and Suicide by Star. The music was well received by the roaring crowd all night long, and the band did what all good bands should do and left them wanting more.

PHM Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Check out a live video for God is an Astronaut below, for the song Shadows.

[youtube W-DtvNSFxEw]

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