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Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011

The Birthday Massacre @ The Miramar Theatre

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The crowd waiting for last Wednesday's show to start at the Miramar presented an odd juxtaposition. A circle of kids, dressed in leather and fishnets and spiky things, some leading each other by dog chains, was playfully batting a dozen or so purple balloons back and forth. It was like a goth version of volleyball. This kind of sums up what Toronto group The Birthday Massacre is like: goth kids having a fun time.

Before the party started for the headliners, though, there was almost three hours' worth of opening acts. Leading the way was an "industrial rap" group from Chicago called Prep School Tragedy, featuring two singers, a couple of naughty cheerleaders and a guy running around shouting lyrics out of a bullhorn—the industrial rap equivalent of hype-man Flavor Flav.

After that was a solid local metal/alternative group, Once the Sun. I:Scintilla, also of Chicago, had an intense set, fueled by powerful lead singer Brittany Bindrim. The Los Angeles band _ash Aria _ rounded out the acts with similar industrial/alternative sounds.

Finally, The Birthday Massacre took the stage and opened with "Pins and Needles," a track from their 2010 album of the same name. The song was also remixed off their EP Imaginary Monster, which debuted earlier this year. The band played a couple more tracks off the EP, "Forever" and "Burn Away."

Lead singer Chibi, short and bouncy, led the sextet and was a perfect mix of cute and creepy. This ratio also shows up in her lyrics and the band's imagery and artwork, a mélange of creepy baby dolls, eerie buildings and mysterious bunny rabbits.

Chibi was dressed in a goth Catholic schoolgirl outfit and put on an energetic performance. She made funny faces at the audience, jumped up and down shaking her pigtails, and ran around slapping her head.

Her band mates, who also mostly go by singular names like "Rainbow" and "Falcore," wore matching suspenders and shirts splattered with green dye. They cranked out music with industrial elements mixed with an upbeat synth-pop sound. Their song "Video Kid," among others, sounds similar to '80s groups like Dead or Alive or Soft Cell infused with distorted guitars.

Chibi has a graceful voice, but wasn't afraid to display the lil' demon within and growl her vocals for a couple songs.

After an hour-long set, the band was cheered back onstage for an encore. Chibi returned to the stage and called two audience members into the spotlight. This turned out to be one Birthday Massacre fan proposing to another—some band dedication, for sure.

The band played their final song, "Midnight," to a newly engaged couple and a satisfied audience.