In the spirit of seizing the day this weekend I’m posting a remix of a tune with particularly poignant lyrics in my eyes…
Don’t tell me our youth is running out,
it’s only just begun
I need a daily reminder of this. Now that I’ve hit my mid 20’s some of my friends are starting to get really serious. It feels like every girl is racing toward age 45 with kids, a husband, a career and a home, while every guy is clinging to the feeling of being 18 and free. That’s a huuuuge generalization because obviously not everyone’s thoughts are determined based on gender and a supposed biological clock, but at this particular moment it seems all too accurate. This is something I’ve never understood because I’ve never felt the pressure to follow this particular path, but when all of your friends start to pity you for taking a different route you need a little gentle reminder to get your mind right… 24 is way too young for this bullshit. Even 50 is too young for this. I’d like to think of youth as a state of mind I’ll hopefully never leave and Foxes has written my anthem, Youth. Adventure club did a little mix a while back on what I’d call a Foxes classic and I absolutely love it (though the orig. is definitely still worth checking out). This isn’t a new tune, but music never ages.
I feel like I live at the Danforth Music Hall, but I love it. It does great things for short people because the floor is angled down enough that I can usually see regardless of where I’m standing. Also, I’ve seen so many shows there in the past year that it’s a haven of fond memories. This one was no different.
I was super late because of a family party in Fort Erie which meant I missed the opening act. I hate missing openers because it’s such a great way to find new music. You have to trust that the headliners and their people have good taste and pair them with great up-and-coming acts. This is usually the case, and I was quite excited to see what Egyptrixx had in store. Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another day. Egyptrixx is from Toronto, so hopefully that means the day will come sooner rather than later.
I also missed the beginning of Caribou’s set which was absolutely devastating, but I caught the second half and have to appreciate that at least I had the pleasure of enjoying that. I heard a number of hits from Swim and Our Love that I know and love. My personal favourites were Our Love, Can’t Do Without You and my absolute favourite, Odessa. I couldn’t keep my grin contained when that one started. The entire crowd was loving it. I would describe the scene as a hipstery rave. It was sweaty, kind of smelly and amazing. The combination of the light show, the music and the massive album art backdrop made it a treat for all your senses, except maybe smell. I was so impressed but I knew to expect greatness because anyone that’s seen Caribou before has raved about them. Sometimes Dan rolls on his own as Caribou but he had a full band of four on Saturday which made the experience even better. Live vocals and instruments make an electronic show a thousand times more impressive. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the next time Caribou comes through the city I’ll be there for the entire show. I’ll even tell every human I know to make sure no one misses out on the experience. Even if you aren’t that in to electronic music, this is a show you can appreciate. The only downside is that some of my favourites either weren’t played, or I missed them (which is my fault). I was really excited to hear Mars, Silver and Julia Brightly, but that’s okay. I will catch them next time!
I’ll leave you with a live performance of Back Home from Brixton Academy (not the show I was at) so you have an idea of what I mean when I say it was a spectacular visual experience as well…
I may have mentioned this before, but one of my breakup songs following the end of a three and a half year relationship back in 2013 was Funeral Song by Fast Romantics. Maybe because it was called Funeral despite a pretty upbeat, celebratory song, or maybe just because I fell in love with it at the right time… whatever the reason, this song helped get me through a rough patch before and came through for me again. Last Friday wasn’t an easy night. I was unexpectedly rolling solo and a tad bitter about certain people being extremely unreliable. I hate festering when I’m feeling down so I figured the perfect opportunity to check out the band that helped cure my breakup blues.
I’d never been to Indie Fridays at Yonge-Dundas Square. I had no idea what to expect. Obviously, a tiny stage right in the middle of Toronto’s answer to Times Square is not the ideal venue; however, I’m not going to complain because the band worked with what they had and it was a free show. The crowd was probably 75 people and that’s being generous. I’d imagine it would be slightly disappointing to see so few gathered when I’m sure they’ve played to much larger crowds, but they rarely let it show. They performed the hell out of that stage. It wasn’t uncommon to see members playing more than one instrument at a time and the singer had some amazing showmanship. I only knew Funeral Song and Julia going in to the show but was pleased with what I discovered. If they were selling vinyl that night definitely would have bought it. Also, they played a couple of new songs so that means a new album should be out soon. Hopefully, the next time I see them the venue will be somewhere legitimate and the crowd a little more enthusiastic because they are a great Canadian band who deserve much more recognition.
I’ll leave you with my personal favourite…
Over the August long weekend I caught Coasts, George Ezra and James Bay with two of my sisters. I’d never been to this venue before but I was pleasantly surprised. For an outdoor show, the stage was the perfect size. It was small enough that it gave the audience a cozy, intimate feel despite a large, sold out crowd. The acoustics were great and the location was right on the water so it showcased some of Toronto’s natural beauty. This is a newer venue and I think it will do great things for the city.
The crowd was an odd one. I’ve never seen so many teenage girls and women under 30 in one place. I swear I could count on my fingers the number of dudes in attendance. I suppose this was to be expected because the artists appeal to a slightly more mature Ed Sheeran fanbase. That being said, the artists were amazing.
Coasts is new on the scene in Canada and were actually the band I was most familiar with beforehand. The biggest hits with the audience were Oceans and Modern Love. I was most excited to hear Lions, but I either missed it somehow or they didn’t play it. I’d recommend checking out See How as well if you’re looking to get in to Coasts. They kind of remind me of The 1975 which leads me to believe they will find success in North America in due time. They put on a good show and it was cute to see the singer in a TFC jersey.
George Ezra was up next, and holy shit does he ever look young. The geeky cute thing is huge these days and he’s killing it. He seems so sweet and humble but he has this incredibly deep and powerful voice. I’d say his tone is similar to Eddie Vedder’s, although his style is pretty different. He told stories between almost every song that made me appreciate them ten times more. He was super funny and his manner of speech was so endearing. He talks slowly, with the most adorable British accent. Every song was a hit with the audience. It seemed like the girls in the audience knew every word to every song. Apparently this was the theme of the night because James Bay was no different. My favourites from George’s set were Blame it on Me, Cassy O’ and Budapest because those were just about the only ones I knew going in to it but I was quite impressed by nearly every song. His career is definitely on the rise and I have no doubt the next time he’s in town he’ll be headlining a big arena show.
James Bay closed out the night and I can’t say enough positive things about him and his entire band. Like Half Moon Run, every member is amazing. James Bay has incredible showmanship. He was clearly born to do this and didn’t seem to have a shy bone in his body which is quite different from what I expected. That being said, he clearly loves making music and performing so his stage presence does not come off as cocky whatsoever. He was loving the audience participation and that was really nice to see. He’s an incredible guitar player and an even better singer if that’s possible. He killed it with every single song and had way more devoted fans than I’d anticipated. I’d say my favourites were Scars, Let it Go and Hold Back the River (duh), but every song was incredible. He even did a cover of an Alicia Keys song, If I Ain’t Got You, that blew the audience away. He took a break to jam with his band at one point, and even that had the us all on their toes. He’s a true artist and it was incredible to see. I was a casual listener before and can easily say I’m a huge fan now. My sister took videos that I keep watching over and over because I want to relive the entire set. The whole night was incredible but I’d say James Bay was the star and he earned that closing spot. I’m so glad I could experience all three acts in the flesh with the company of my sisters.
The joys of living in Toronto include a free show here and there. I was lucky enough to catch Half Moon Run with my sister when they came to play a free show during the Pan Am Games last month. The weather was perfect and the crowd was relatively small. This was a big step up from the last time I saw them at Osheaga because it felt much more intimate. With a band like Half Moon Run, the closer the better because you don’t want to miss a second of it.
They played most of their first album, Dark Eyes, which is the only one out to date. There isn’t a single song on the album that I don’t love so I was ecstatic to hear most of them live again. They did a great job of mixing new stuff in with the old. They mentioned at Osheaga that they would be taking the year to make new music and their hard work has paid off. The new stuff sounds quite different, but amazing nonetheless.
The new tunes definitely had more of a dancey, electronic feel to them but still managed to showcase how talented these guys are. They are known for being percussion-heavy, multi-talented, and amazing harmonizers. This is definitely still the case. Each band member would play two instruments at a time, often while still singing. I’ve never seen anything like it. At one point, one of the drummers (yes, there was more than one), played drums with one hand and a keyboard with the other. How one human brain can handle that level of dexterity is beyond me. It was incredible to see in the flesh! I don’t know how they haven’t completely taken over the world yet because no one can deny how amazing every band member is as an individual, and when they come together it’s even better. I swear they could move me to tears.
The show was absolutely incredible from start to finish. The highlights for me were Call Me in the Afternoon, Drug You and Full Circle. These are classics in my eyes, which makes me even more excited to hear new material because I would love to add some new tunes to that list. I’d be absolutely devastated if I missed them the next time they come to town, so you can be sure I won’t let that happen.
I’m going to leave you with a new single they released called Trust. They also announced that the next album, Sun Leads Me On, will be out on October 23rd of this year.. FINALLY!!
I’m about to kick off a series of show reviews from some shows I’ve been to over the past few weeks, but before I do I’d like to share this beautiful piece of summery artistry by SAINT WKND and Chet Faker. Let Lover remind you how beautiful August can be. It sounds like the musical version of sunshine and strawberry daiquiris and I mean that in the best way. As a Torontonian, I’m picturing a toasty Sunday at Cabana (minus everyone gross), getting a little sunkissed and a lot tipsy. Get out there and enjoy the last month of summer while you still can, and let this be your soundtrack. Chet Faker is Australian after all, so island vibes must be second nature to him and clearly SAINT WKND doesn’t mess around when it comes to creating hits.
Day 3 was simply too hot to take in all of the early afternoon shows. I woke up feeling like my brain was actually cooking due to our tents being under direct sunlight. Camping provided little opportunity for good sleep and physical recharging. I had planned to catch the Sheepdogs but I just couldn’t do it. I did manage to make it to Brave Shores under the WayBold stage and what a show it was. Praise jesus the stage was shaded because the dancing that ensues at a Brave Shores show could have proved too much in the sun. I managed to capture a quick video but in no way is it an accurate representation of how great their set was, but it’s better than nothing. I’m still a new fan of these guys but I’m glad to have had the opportunity to discover a little more. Seeing them means I missed July Talk yet again, but their time for me will come.
Next, we headed to Cold War Kids. I’ve been dying to see them for ages. I have been a fan for a while now and was so excited to hear my favourites in the flesh. The highlights for me were definitely Miracle Mile and First, but their entire set was a treat for the ears. Again, seeing them means I missed Broods and HIGHS, but what can you do. My friends managed to catch HIGHS and took a few videos so at least I can confirm their set was a smashing success.
We hit up the main stage for St. Vincent and Brandon Flowers. I’ll be honest, I’d never been a huge fan of either but in person they definitely killed it. St. Vincent was so quirky that it was quite entertaining to watch, and Brandon Flowers had the whole crowd on their feet. He threw in some Killers classics so there were enough familiar tunes to sing along to. I danced the entire time and would definitely see him again.
Luckily, I had a chance to catch Vance Joy for the third time in the past year. I can’t say enough about how amazing he is. His voice is amazing and he has a way of commanding a massive audience while playing acoustic ballads that is so impressive. I will take every opportunity I have to see him and I hope I never miss a show when he’s in town. As always, Riptide blew the crowd away. Since I’ve seen him twice already and he’s only released one album, it was really great to hear some new material. I’m a big fan of Fire and the Flood and can’t wait to hear what’s next.
Vance Joy, the love of my life
There’s no better way to end an amazing festival than with a beautiful voice so full of love like Sam Smith’s. Every time he told the story behind one of his songs I could feel his passion so strongly that I felt like I had experienced all of those emotions myself. There are few artists capable of giving me goosebumps and I had them throughout his entire set. The combination of his beautifully tragic lyrics, soulful voice and my own sadness over the festival coming to a close had me near tears the entire time. I realize that sounds so cheesy but I know some members of my crew actually did cry so that makes me feel a little better for being so taken by his performance. He deserves every award he’s ever gotten and then some. My favourites were Latch, Money on my Mind, Nirvana and of course, Stay With Me. I’m so happy he’s become as successful as he is today and that I’ve had the chance to experience it in person. Sam Smith, and this entire festival, was an experience I know I’ll never forget.