@ SVQ, London
Words & Pics by Captain Stavros
The phrase, ‘it takes all kinds’ is chucked around haphazardly, in our opinion, these days. On our way to the Maple Glider gig, we met some choice specimens that we felt fortified our opinion on the subject. En route, we watched as a couple of tweens stood straddling one another in embrace atop an electric scooter, expertly balanced, taking turns hocking loogies at passers-by. Or perhaps it was the pregnant woman holding a child’s hand at the bus stop as she smoked a cigarette with her free hand that tipped the scales for us? It was then that we remembered the sage advice of one Clarence Worley, “usually, that’s the way it goes, but every once in a while, it goes the other way too” - True Romance. An accurate summation of how one’s faith in mankind could be restored, as swiftly as a loogie in the wind. Enter, Tori Zietsch a.k.a. Maple Glider, whose myriad of experiences with all kinds would forge the performer stood before us this evening. For better or worse, we’d learn about their trials and tribulations; re-enactments of events, all leading towards an evolution of artist and person that would bring us a solid nine-song set from a battle-hardened heroine.
In the dimly lit basement of SVQ, whilst the ceiling beams creaked, groaned and, by all accounts, shifted a little too precariously under the strain of its patrons above, the people squeezed into the tiny venue like the Japanese into a train car at peak-times. Wiggling past us, Tori taped a clutch of flowers to the mic stand largely unnoticed. Hard to believe whilst being clad in red patent leather trousers, powder blue corset and lime psychedelic unbuttoned, button up shirt. This changed quickly as the house music died and freshly tuned guitar came to life. Maple Glider stood solo backed only by curtain instead of bandmates before us. If you’re imagining this is where the set begins, think again. In fact, throw out all assumptions of how the set should materialize but learn how this next event would definitely set the tone for things that would follow.
Someone out of sight above us galloped down the stairs, stumbling and dropping their phone as Tori quietly strummed the first chords of ‘Mama, it’s Christmas’. The audience, ourselves included, gasped and held their breath as someone might having dropped their phone into the toilet. A pin drop could be heard clear as day at present. This in comparison, was quite like a bomb exploding, deafening. Eyes closed. A smile spread across her wide face and, ‘Are you okay???’ in an Aussie accent rang out in the wake of silence. Tension broken, everyone, including Tori, let out a great chuckle. This would set the tone for the evening.
A nine-song set would take us on an autobiographical journey through the career, and consequently life of, Tori. It would veer and stray off-course into many anecdotal tangents and even more feverish gesticulations involving both hand and limbs. Although entertaining for her audience, like the uncontrollable hiccups of a friend (or enemy), to us, a source of pleasure, she has lived so we might too, if by nothing more than proxy. She’s created, not only a form of musical spectacle coming out the other side, but we’re sure a safe and entertaining space for those who’ll tune in. Maple Glider’s tunes ring true with a wealth of relatability.
Near the mid set point Tori reminisces about, ‘Diner’, from her latest I Get Into Trouble (aptly named) thanking Partisan Records. A song about her time managing a diner (also aptly named), or that time a fan called ‘bullshit!’ on a tweet (admitting it was in fact bullshit), and the many faceted layers of sexual identity along with the challenges of ‘getting there’. Recording it, she confided, was difficult but ultimately letting go of secrets made life lighter. True say. Lyrics like, ‘been in a church/making sure no one's looking up my skirt’ speaking of formative experience, illicit or otherwise, that really leaves an impression on an audience. ‘Don’t Kiss Me’, song four, arrives with no intro at which the audience capitalized on an opportunity for applause. 'Sometimes My Own Body Doesn't Feel Like My Body' is confidently sung, locking the crowd's attention to the stage while her gaze soars across the room and over the audience’s heads. The vibe is Cat Power’s cover of ‘Sea of Love’, morosely happy.
‘View From The Side’, nearing the end of the set, crystallized Maple Glider’s ability to shine a light into darker times by means of self-reflection or, even by accident, like being run over by your own bicycle (which actually happened to her), untethered and yet prolific. ‘Looks Like We Made It’, a Manillow/Kerr cover next was a treat. When scarcely the first words sung, there you are Tori locked eyes with a long time friend (yelling out “THERE YOU ARE!”) who’d nearly missed the set due to flight and train delays. Timing’s everything folks. Sad as it were though, the set did have to come to an end as all ‘Good Thing(s)’ must. We’re of the same opinion though that, “I'd rather kill a good thing than wait for it die”. The set was like watching a giraffe taking its first steps; a bit clumsy at first but not lacking in entertainment, or limbs akimbo, for those lucky enough to have been around for two consecutive sold-out performances.