Living Planet
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Living Planet

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"Battle of the bland at Clark: Repetive De Rigeur trumps Living Planet"

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Concert Review: QEA Battle of the Bands @ Clark Hall Pub, March 29

Of all the concert bills to make you re-think your spending tendencies and grudgingly decide to stay at home, wallowing in self-pity while watching a late-night broadcast of Tomb Raider, a campus battle of the bands wins with ease. Stereotypes run amuck when contemplating the sabotage of a perfectly fine weekday night: bad music, musicians in an identity crisis, entourages screaming idiotically and more bad music.

Fortunately for the eyes and ears of all involved, QEA’s Battle of the Bands provided a slight trace of hope and, most importantly, enough alcohol to douse the pain.

Kicking off the evening with enough repetition to make Angelina Jolie’s spelunking escapades seem like highbrow entertainment was Sargasso Sea. To be fair, this group had a good lead guitar and—well, that was it.

After flatlining with dull riffs in their first number, the interesting introduction of a banjo in their second tune was quickly negated by the repetition of the lyric, “I will be lost, you will be found,” which is either terrible writing or a lament on the hiking trip from hell.

When all else fails, turn to Bachman-Turner Overdrive. When that fails, and it looks like assorted vegetables will soon be whipped violently on stage, turn to the “Ghostbusters” theme.

Like any intelligent amateur rockers, Sargasso Sea heeded these rules in their attempt to win over the audience, but, to the crowd’s credit, not even cheap covers of incredibly overplayed ’80s tunes could stir them.

Bringing a welcome change of pace were Living Planet—a group who, if I had my way, would have unanimously won the title.

With a large ensemble including saxophones, a keyboard, rhythmic guitar and a whole bunch of instruments whose names I can’t pronounce, this band was hands down the most talented and energetic of the competition. The two lead singers bounced smooth lyrics back and forth while their ska-funk melodies jived, pulsated, and even had the audience singing along at one point. At the very least, they win points for not being another imitative rock band. Their sound has an organic groove, combining spirited funk with soulful rock.

Orchestrated for enjoyment, Living Planet holds your attention—they’re artful with their instruments, they have fun on stage, and they know how to work a crowd.

No band is without its flaws, and they could do with a few stand-out melodies to break up their sound, but as far as novelty, talent, and energy go, Living Planet has it all. They’re pleasantly catchy, undeniably rhythmic and able to appease music fans from all genres.

Mass of Distraction, who share two members with Living Planet, had the unenviable duty of following that tough act. Like Living Planet, their talent is undeniable, but it seems that their skill trumps their songwriting. Their sound is channeled into patterns, resulting in jazz-rock vibrations better suited as background music for classy functions than as a concert set to hold your attention. Playing for yourselves rather than the audience, especially in a battle of the bands scenario, makes a set lag, regardless of decent tunes and obvious instrumental skill.

Cedar Speeder, a trio dressed in Boy Scout clothing who were a little over-reliant on anecdotes, played fourth.

Indie rock lovers were satisfied by the appearance, although likely not the skill, of this band. Even to musical dilettantes with no concept of tone, the singing duo of Cedar Speeder is painfully flat. Their rock rhythms are laced with vocals that are never on pitch and their up-tempo guitar riffs are lost in a lack of vocal and instrumental diversity.

Not even a weak attempt at humour with the pushy chorus line “Taliban terror rock” can save them—typical three-man band syndrome.

The two acts that followed Living Planet, though they made suitable attempts, were overshadowed by the melodies of the funky rock-hop group, adding to the list of reasons why this band should’ve taken the crown.

Unfortunately, factory-processed rock seems to own any battle of the bands title, and the Queen’s Entertainment Agency did little to avoid this stereotype.

De Rigeur took the fifth and final slot at the Battle of the Bands, eventually taking home the QEA honours as the best musical group on campus with their eclectic rock (and eclectic spelling, as the expression should actually be spelled “de rigueur”).

The problem with this decision is not so much talent-based, nor is it with the decent set that was performed—it’s with the lack of diversity that this group adds to the mix.

Their instrumental opening tune was respectable, though slightly overdone, and their subsequent numbers were packed with catchy tunes and lyrics that aren’t overbearingly repetitive. They had decent vocals, differing sounds, and songs that could get stuck in your head—enough to please any Oasis fan.

Despite this, De Rigeur seem to be, in all aspects, fundamentally generic. It’s the sound you expect at a campus battle of the bands—the imitation and remodeling of success.

With this choice, QEA appears to have gone with the conventional option: the group that looks, sounds, and acts like a “real” band rather than seriously considering originality and talent.
- The Queen's Journal

"Decent exposure"

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Exposure festival aims to foster an artistic environment for artists, writers, musicians—and their admirers.

For artists in the Queen’s community, there’s not such thing as over-exposure, and Neshka Kus and Avneet Toor are on a mission to put student art in the spotlight.

Kus and Toor, both ArtSci ’08, are co-chairs of Exposure, an art festival run through the AMS’s Campus Activities Commission. They were hired last March and began planning for this year’s festival last May.

Kus said she and Toor wanted to bring the arts to the forefront of the Queen’s community.

“[We wanted] to expose Queen’s to art … and to expose Queen’s students’ art,” she said. “We just wanted to reach all ends of the spectrum.”

The festival’s goal is to create an art-friendly environment on campus, Toor said.

“We just wanted to create an atmosphere where art could be shown and appreciated,” she said, adding that the reaction from students as been really positive.

Toor said part of what Exposure tries to do is showcase the art made by students outside the faculty of fine arts.

“Besides fine arts, there’s a lot of people who do art but don’t get the chance to show it,” she said. “It’s important for the artist and for everyone else to see it.”

“It’s great to see the artists smile when they see their art displayed or after they perform,” she said. “There’s a lot of talent.”

The art display in the JDUC has long been the centre of the Exposure experience. Showcasing the artistic talents of Queen’s students from all faculties, the flat panels in the lower ceilidh display a variety of artistic visions.

With everything from photography to painting and sketching, realism to abstract, Exposure has captured both the wide range of art being created on campus and the students who craft it.

But Exposure hasn’t limited itself to just visual art, Toor said.

“Beyond just the art displays, we’ve had a battle of the bands and a coffeehouse,” Toor said.

Exposure gets the bulk of its funding from the AMS’s Special Projects Grant and the JDUC Bursary, as well as fundraising initiatives and sponsorships from local businesses.

The week is chock full of events featuring art, music and poetry that aim to reach out to students and the community.

Wednesday night’s coffeehouse at the Common Ground was a forum for student writers to share their work. Tuesday night at the Grad Club, on the other hand, was all about the music.

Offering five bands the chance to compete for a $100 first prize, Exposure’s battle of the bands covered everything from rock and funk to bluegrass and Afro-beat. The competing bands took their audience on a spin through time, places and emotions, and gave them something to dance to along the way.

Showcasing the incredible diversity of the Queen’s music scene as well as the need to support our musicians, Exposure crowned Make Your Exit … Find An Exit the winning band. Living Planet came in at a close second, winning a $50 gift certificate to Limestone Music.

Ben Wright, ArtSci ’08, competed with two bands, Living Planet and Ben, Rich, Tim. Wright said he has been involved with Exposure in the past.

“It brings awareness to student arts,” he said. “It’s not just about music.”

Andrew Mouck, CompSci ’08, opened the competition with his band Garçon Means Boy. Mouck said Exposure is important because of the forum it offers musicians and artists at Queen’s.

“I think it offers opportunities for students to perform without having to organize themselves,” he said. “It offers them a place to play.”

Exposure runs until Feb. 10. Tonight there’s a poetry reading at the Grad Club featuring Lillian Allen and writer-in-residence Billeh Nickerson. Tomorrow night Ballet Jorgen will perform “Anastasia” in Grant Hall. Tickets for the ballet are available at Destinations and cost $17 for students and $22 for adults.
- The Queen's Journal

"QTV Checks Out the Exposure Battle of the Bands"

View Online at: - Queen's TV

"QTV at the Lazy Scholar Concert"

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- Queen's TV


Living Planet is in the process of recording their first EP.

Currently, only live tracks are available, but Living Planet is and will always be a live band at heart. These recordings are just a low-qual taste of what the real deal is like.

Check out more live tracks at:



Living Planet formed at Queen's University in Kingston, ON in November of 2006. Bryce approached members of various other campus bands with an ambitious notion: starting an afrobeat band. Some of the band members were not even familiar with the genre, but after some quick investigation, it seemed like a natural choice. Afrobeat, with its rhythmic feel, energetic tempo, improvisational style, and politically charged lyrics was the perfect genre for this group of ambitious musicians bored with generic bands.

The most exciting aspect of Living Planet is the opportunity to introduce people to this little known genre, and to make them move in the process. The infectious rhythms and catchy horn lines appeal to all audiences, and Living Planet strives to leave people smiling and energized.

Living Planet were recently finalists in the Mazda Muzik Tour battle of the band after winning the Ottawa Regional Showcase. They are ecstatic to have won over the crowd in their first ever Ottawa appearance and proud to be one of the top 12 campus bands in Canada.

With such a large group of musicians from diverse backgrounds, the influences are limitless, but there are a number that stand out:
-Fela Kuti & Femi Kuti
-Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra
-Mr. Something Something
-Stevie Wonder
-Herbie Hancock
-Sir David Attenborough (of nature documentary fame)