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Tom Fun Orchestra - SK Amigo's Cafe, Saskatoon, 6/8/2010

  by Jeff Thiessen

published: 6 / 9 / 2010

Tom Fun Orchestra - SK Amigo's Cafe, Saskatoon, 6/8/2010


At the SK Amigo's Cafe in Saskatoon in Canada, Jeff Thiessen sees beery eight-piece band the Tom Fun Orchestra play a visceral and refreshingly excessive set

The Tom Fun Orchestra is music to drink beer to. It really is. They ensure it’s a party onstage, so a logical outgrowth of that is of course, a party in front of the stage and surrounding areas. Their set here in my hometown of Saskatoon wasn’t one to write home about, but, it, however, was one to drunkenly get on the phone and slobbenly call your sleeping friends to jubilantly describe what they missed. It must be stated there is a lot of people on stage when Tom Fun plays, so there naturally isn’t a lot of room for them to run amok. At first, this incongruity was a tad distracting to me. This was a real explosion of live, visceral energy, but they’re left with no choice but to hover around the stage ala shoe-gazing fashion. It didn’t take long (read: one-and-a-half songs) for me to completely forget that inherent contradiction that was forced upon the band not by themselves, but simply by the limited space in Amigo's playing area, and realize that more often than not, this was a partied, jazzed up version of Tom Waits’ 'Bone Machine'. Have a hard time imagining it? Well before the show, I would have too, but that’s the first description that popped into my head while writing this. It was touching in spots (rarely), theatrical in areas (semi-frequently), and savagely brimming with an effortless glide into some glowing, under-populated barroom-blitz nether realm (constantly). To be clear, their live set doesn’t work on a large amount of levels despite their recurrent forays into the party within the murk. It thrives as a direct result of this. I don’t claim to know the future of reliable, pub-oriented grassroots scenes in the free world, but if the Tom Fun Orchestra is any indication, the notion of four players assigned to the standard set-up isn’t a dead concept by any means, but it does seem to strike me as a unnecessarily limiting, and that’s a big part of what I drew from the Tom Fun Orchestra show, which is probably the nicest thing I could say about these guys, since many of my all-time favourite acts operate under that traditional approach. Yeah, a four person band may be a more realistic approach, and you certainly do walk away from shows without bruised elbows from bumping into your bandmates when you get a little of that Pete Townsend in you, but if you have friends who can play,as the Tom Fun Orchestra clearly do, why close the door? Let them in! Give them something that can make a note, and let them onboard. It’s becoming quite clear to me; real sensibilities in music can just as easily lie in concentrated excess as it can with standardized minimalism. The Tom Fun Orchestra is worth your money. They’re worth your time. Not everything within their grand vision works all the time, but that’s part of the fun too. You’re essentially on a journey with them, and it’s incredibly safe to say nobody knows where the fuck anybody will end up. The key track you will hear from this group, is undoubtedly 'Miles Davis', their newest single. It never really establishes an identity, but that’s really the perpetual thrill of this group anyway. They’re playing within a battered industry, taking the brunt of a new century’s cataclysmic shift in technology and commerce, but if their newest song is any indication, the Tom Fun Orchestra is ahead of the curve, or at least, louder than it.

Picture Gallery:-
Tom Fun Orchestra - SK Amigo's Cafe, Saskatoon, 6/8/2010

Tom Fun Orchestra - SK Amigo's Cafe, Saskatoon, 6/8/2010

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Interview (2010)
Tom Fun Orchestra - Interview
Jeff Thiessen talks to sprawling and energetic eight-piece Canadian group the Tom Fun Club about their new single 'Miles Davis' and 'You Will Land With A Thud', which was co-produced by Gordon Gano from Violent Femmes

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