Small Black and Painted Palms live at The Garrison

San Francisco’s Painted Palms and Brooklyn’s Small Black have teamed up for a North American tour and though the tour is nearing the end there is still time to see the bands, but first let’s look at their appearance in Toronto’s Garrison.

Both fresh with new albums, Painted Palms dropped their sophomore album Horizons in September and Small Black released Best Blues on October 16th. The two bands, though each with a distinct sound, are a perfect match for a small venue tour.

Admittedly, Small Black has a bigger and more dedicated following, but it’s safe to say that if you like one you will like the other – which proved to be the case last Sunday.

Painted Palms were first on the bill and began their show promptly at 9 p.m. to a half-full bar. Their humble attitude and upbeat opening quickly gathered the audience close to the stage. Horizons is a mesh of ’60s psych-pop, ’80s synths and minimalistic hypnotic vibes, the album overall was a very cohesive piece which is exactly how the show came together – smooth and simple.

After a slight delay Small Black took the stage. Best Blues soaked in a lot of positive criticism when it first dropped and some not so pleasant: “How’s the sound?” inquires Josh Kolenik, “Pretty good for something that got reviewed as emo soft surf huh?”  The crowd keeps on bopping and dancing, no one seems to have notices Kolenik’s bitter outburst.

Small Black have had a pretty tight following since their inception and this album seemed to have not only reinforced their fan base, but expanded it. Their hazy synth-pop is approachable and catchy and if the album is listened throughout, in order, you’ll begin to notice the narrative of the story (the story about the woman in the cover photo).

Live, Small Black are upbeat and engaging; lighting up the audience from the front to the back with small fires. These fans are not going anywhere, no need to hang on to negative reviews.

photos by Eric Shaw