Live Music: Austra and Blood Ceremony at Canadian Music Festival 2013

Austra at Canadian Music Festival 2013

Since we’ve last seen Austra, they’ve doubled their band members, created new material and have been touring non-stop, between opening for the xx’s US tour and playing a stint of South by Southwest shows. This past Saturday, they headlined a Canadian Music Festival show at the Danforth Music Hall and showed their hometown that they’re not burnt out. In fact, they sound tighter than ever, their new songs are dark, strong tracks and lead singer Katie Stelmanis continues to wow with her impressive vocal talent.

Before coming on stage around 10:45, Lowell, Yacht Club and Blood Ceremony took the stage. We arrived just in time to watch Blood Ceremony’s set – lead singer Alia O’Brien is a natural frontwoman – gorgeous, with strong stage presence and a bevy of musical talent (singer, flautist, organist) and the band’s talent is obvious. The dark, brooding metal was a natural fit to open for Austra and their sound reminded us of Jethro Tull / Black Sabbath – we were in love.

Austra took the stage and opened with “The Choke”, off 2011’s Feel It Break, before playing roughly over an hour of music mostly off the album interspersed with a few new ones, including their new single, “Home”. Donned in a dark denim onesie, Katie Stelmanis continues to lead the band confidently, with her commanding vocals, dramatic keyboard manoeuvres and elegant prances around the stage. Twin backup singers Sari and Romy Lightman are perfect – Frida Kahlo-inspired fashion, graceful moves and beautiful harmonies lighten Katie’s overpowering, dark voice. Austra’s new tracks are slower, darker and not too far off from their current sound, which we liked.

Austra is sounding better than ever before, and we can’t wait to see what their new album, Olympia, holds in store.

Olympia is out in June on Paper Bag Records.

Austra and Blood Ceremony at Canadian Music Festival 2013-3

Austra and Blood Ceremony at Canadian Music Festival 2013-4

Austra and Blood Ceremony at Canadian Music Festival 2013

Austra Canadian Music Festival 2013

Blood Ceremony at Canadian Music Festival 2013