The Tote Hotel in Collingwood list a fine assortment of local and international artists that have graced their much-loved floor. I quite like the quote from Mark Arm of Mudhoney who got so drunk he can't remember playing there. It's totally clear to see how that could happen, its cosy and intimate feel, is like an underground cellar. Minus the racks of wine. Rumour has it there are actually tunnels that run underneath it and, there's a resident ghost. I'm glad no-one told me that before hand.
For upcoming singerElodie Adams, the venue lent itself well to her neo-goth rock style. Long raven hair, tight-fitting black corset embellished with spiky studs and devil may care attitude took to the stage like it was her home. I'm sure even the Tote Ghost was surprised, considering this was her first live performance. After some patchy sound issues for the first three songs, the trio – consisting of Elodie, her drummer Jason Richardson and guitarist Brendan Thompson settled in and from there on in, it was pretty magnetizing. There's something about the raw fragility of the violin, paired with Adams opera training, the thundering drums and metal guitar that rip through, these are adrenalizing arrangements. Years of crafting this 'Neo-Romantic Post-Industrial Stalker-Rock' sound, have absolutely paid off (Adams told me she gains great delight in describing her music that way).
From the unveiling of the 'Born to Love You' filmclip – projected onto a huge screen behind the band, to the backstory provided for each of the songs – Adams carefully crafted a visual and aural journey for audiences. Her violin playing is electrifying, for a young performer – the control, maturity and passion really shine. Her vocals, mixed with the electronic components she helped produced, peaked in the track 'Plastic Toy', along with 'Born to Love You' and her cover of Kate Bush's 'Running up that Hill' – all riveting moments in the show.
Producer Lee Bradshaw joined Adams on stage, playing piano for their chosen cover. There's something about an artist playing one of their favourite songs that is really poignant for me. It gently reveals a slightly different version of themselves, and I'm always curious to see how they compose it musically and vocally. Bradshaw has really helped shaped this young artist's vision, with Adams even enlisting him to write up her bio on the website, "we were having a conversation and he kept describing my music with all of these phrases that captured it really perfectly. When someone asked me to write a bio I didn't want to write something that is like; 'Elodie started playing violin since the age of four and had opera lessons since the age of seven', but I wanted people to read with words what my music sounds like. I believe the combination of words he used captured that sound so well."
Band members Thompson and Richardson are also solid additions to the outfit. There were a few musical solos by the trio and for me, second to 'Plastic Toy' really outstanding moments in the show. I kept thinking of Adams explaining her love of David Garrett's covers of metal bands (i.e. Metallica) and it was during the explosive riffing that I totally got it. The more punters can come out and support these guys, the tighter their live sound will become. With Adams already a very detailed musician, I can really see her pushing the envelope – which is exciting for a female artist in her genre. For fans of metal blended with evocative string arrangements – these guys are exceptional. As Adams gleefully yelled out at the end, "this is a dream come true! I've been wanting to do this for years. I can't believe it's happened," you just know that enthusiasm and unrelenting passion will see this determined band break some ground.
As she explained to me when we chatted, " it's been two years to make this EP, and it doesn't take into consideration all the years of training, performing and exploring different genres." I think it does, if their performance is anything to go by – hopefully cutting her teeth at The Tote is a sign of good things to come.