Show review: Independent Day

Toasted tomato sandwiches. Crystals and a chrysalis. Ghost passengers on an otherworldly plane. Exploding birds.* Welcome to an evening at Windsor's Phog Lounge with Wax Mannequin and Jenny Omnichord. Before it was over, we knew we'd seen one of our Top Ten shows of the year.

This is independent music at its best: artists with the valor, ardor and candor to share their original visions with an audience and most of the all, that elusive combination of charisma and talent. It's not just art for the eyes and ears, but the heart, soul and mind.

The now-iconic picture (on his latest release, Saxon) of Wax Mannequin's otherwise handsome visage sandwiched between the soundboard and strings of his classical guitar is just one metaphor for his music and lyrics-- sometimes uncomfortable ("God's Love") yet arresting ("Everything and Everyone"), deeply ingrained and literally in your face. So were the crystals he tossed to the audience-- hard and pretty, something you can't resist picking up ("Pieces of Bird")-- and that giant mysterious body bag/chrysalis that spilled out colorful balloons, fragile illusions he then stomped on.

Jenny Omnichord's songs are less complicated, as playful as the cross-Canada board game that comes with the vinyl package of her latest album, All Our Little Bones, and just as irresistible. Although motherhood inspired not only a children's album (Charlotte or Otis, which features a who's who of Canadian indie musicians) and provided a significant muse for her recent material, all accompanied by the omnipresent omnichord, her music is never monotonous. With subjects ranging from the imaginative ("Ghost Flyers in the Sky", from Cities of Gifts and Ghosts) to gratitude for understanding tour mates ("Pain of Maybes"), how could it be?

Photos: Russ Gordon

*No actual birds were harmed
in the performance of this song.