The patrons of Mahtay Cafe were in for a treat on November 24. Thanks to live music from Stellar Ash and supporting band Toaster Whatever. Together, they made for an incredible night of music, but they couldn’t have been more different in style.
The three-piece band Toaster Whatever kicked off the evening with a set filled with high-energy fun. It’s difficult to describe their genre of music, but I would consider them to be some sort of punk rock. Where the raging distortion of the guitars has been replaced by fast and fancy chords, and the anger has been replaced by a passion for life. Somewhere between the Ramones, Ryan Adams and the Smiths, lies the sound of Toaster Whatever (which, by the way, is one of the best band names I’ve heard in a long time). While there wasn’t much to distinguish the songs in the first half of their setlist, the band’s energy made them a joy to watch, and their last few songs contained some more interesting stuff. What their lead vocalist lacked in perfect pitch, he more than made up for in energy and spirit, and the interplay between the lead and backing vocals was enchanting at points in the setlist.
Toaster Whatever were great fun, and a stellar opening act, but nothing could have prepared the audience for what came next. The sprawling, ambient sounds of Stellar Ash emerged as if from the darkest depths of space. It was like they were from another world. They opened with a cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’, that was almost entirely unrecognizable; the 80’s synth and drums of the original were done away with in favour of swells of delay-laden walls of guitar, and Bush’s iconic vocals were replaced by the deep, brooding lament of Stellar Ash’s frontman.
The rest of their set went in about twenty different directions, and they mastered all of them. You can find the dramatic solos of Pink Floyd, the wailing riffs of My Bloody Valentine, the groove of Jimi Hendrix and even the funk of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Stellar Ash’s original music. They are an astounding force of nature, and their show really has to be seen to be believed. They turned the quiet, intimate space of Mahtay Cafe into a stadium with a clear view of the stars, and they made it seem effortless. Both bands are well worth checking out, if you ever get the opportunity.