Chandra Oppenheim Resurfaces North of the Border

Tonight at Double Double Land in Toronto’s Kensington Market neighborhood, something rather unusual will take place. A live performance by Chandra Oppenheim who, in the 1980s at age 12, made a splash fronting a band of adults.

From her website:

The year was 1980, and the setting was Hell’s Kitchen, New York, at the anomalous intersection of art and music. As the daughter of eminent conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim, Chandra showed considerable promise as a songwriter and performer from the age of 7. This inspired New York noisemakers The Model Citizens (later transforming into The Dance) to approach the young firestarter and become her backing band.

With Chandra penning the songs’ lyrics and vocal melodies, her adult accompanists laid down abrasively propulsive grooves, lending their recordings a singular sound. Rubbery bass lines, resonant organs, razor wire guitars and the spectral dub echoes of the melodica are driven by Chandra’s commanding vocals. Imagine a tweenage Lizzy Mercier Descloux or the schoolyard jump rope chants of ESG stripped to their skeletal essence. Little did she know, this was an electric time and place! Only a child’s imagination could fathom sharing a rehearsal space with Madonna or a stage with The B-52’s.

Oppenheim’s four-song EP Transportation, featuring the song “Concentration,” is being re-released by her Rain Boots Records in partnership with Toronto label Cantor Records. She will be performing tonight with some local up-and-comers and told’s Evan Sue-Ping she can’t wait:

“I am so excited! That probably doesn’t sound very rock ‘n roll, but that’s me. If I’m enthusiastic about something, I don’t hold back… I think it’s going to feel great, cathartic, to sing these songs live with Bile Sister.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting everyone who has put this all together, seeing Toronto for the first time, being able to share this with my mother and my daughter, and last but not least, the celebratory beverage.”

[Album cover courtesy: Rain Boots Records]

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.