Friday, September 09, 2011

Laetitia Sadier, Bela Tar @ Levontin 7

This is my second time seeing Bela Tar this year (the first time was at this show) and it's more of the same but a little bit better, because her music is far better suited for a cramped underground room than an elevated stage in a spacious club.

Laetitia Sadier is at the point in her career when she's stored up so musical capital from her days in Stereolab that can do absolutely anything she wants. Stereolab in the 90's were one of the most essential bands ever, they were gold in the studio and on stage (their 1996 concert in Toronto, with Cornershop opening for them, is one of my top five favourite concerts ever, if not top three) and influenced countless indie rock imitators. By the 00's, their work as indie guiding lights was basically done, but they were still well worth following even though the music ranged from merely good to "yet another kooky science pop rehash". In the 10's, the glory days are long gone but who cares? Sadier is in a comfortable place, where the music will never be so bad that she'll embarrass herself or tarnish her legacy, but will never be good enough to compare to the stuff she did twenty years ago. She's like the indie rock version of the Rolling Stones or Paul McCartney, where she can release a record every few years to moderate acclaim (even though the music on album will be forgotten not long after) and can always head out on the road because nobody can hate on getting a chance to see the legend live and in colour.

But whereas Macca and the Stones are content to be jukeboxes, recycling the hits year after year, decade after decade, Sadier refuses to do so, determined to forge new paths forward with Monade, and now as a solo artist. She should be commended for it, although Sadier probably wouldn't think of it as anything other than the obvious and natural thing to do. Besides her distinctive voice, there isn't much that separates tonight's performance from a lot of other female artists standing on stages worldwide, singing about The Issues that matter to them (on today's menu: divorce, children, and politicians who don't do the jobs they're supposed to do). But does it matter? Who's complaining?

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