Posts tagged toronto
Posts tagged toronto
On long days, the kind that include heatwaves, multiple modes of transportation, full workloads and the English problem that is Wayne Rooney, what you really want is some place to completely turn off and unwind.
Midway through NXNE, the self-described first pop up shop of music, New Music Ten is hosting at the neighborhood hangout everyone drives themselves nuts to find, The Pacific Junction Hotel.
Cloistered under the patio twinkle lights, things are ramping up inside with the in house radio station (Girth Radio) and event beverage host Budweiser is drawing me back in with FIFA gear and drinks in matte limited edition bottles.
Bands in unplugged setups from the shag carpet laden station interior, Much Music Host Scotty Willat drops in to spin and backs me into a corner of ill made FIFA bets.
I’m still not discouraged.
Whether it’s the airy haunting of the group’s track Wiser or their momentum through celebrity hunter Perez Hilton’s praise, Old Man Canyon and their debut show no sign of stopping. After rave responses at showcases around the city, Jett Pace gave me his NXNE thoughts.
I don’t go to enough galleries. This is a fact.
My mum has a degree in Art History and when I was young I lived to read through the monster size leftover textbooks. So when I get the chance to explore an art reception I’m going to take it.
The NXNE Art Lounge presented by Samsung Galaxy hosted the invite only event.
Speedy bartenders and in depth conversations with artists about perspective and infinity mirrors.
It’s easy to stay stuck watching the back and forth of the 3D printers make a miniature city in primary colors.
I keep to the dim lit side room. A space swallowing piece of hanging translucent layers with assumed comets connecting together. Like romanticism in the words of cellophane.
Typical Toronto in late June, it is muggy, post rain and humid. I avoid the impending hair frizz as much as possible and head to downtown staple Lee’s Palace.
I heard Foxy Shazam initially 4 years ago while staying in Brooklyn. Quickly they became the overplayed song of our car and my friends and I consistently chimed in union with the tracks. “Keep on keeping on.”
It’s my first time to Lee’s which is surprising. I’ve made my way around the downtown clubs (even Holy Joe’s/The Reverb before it burned down) but never yet to the 2 story alternative haven in the heart of the annex.
One of the best venue layouts I’ve seen. Club geographics are tricky things. Enough space to dance, enough space to sit, intermediate ground. Lee’s checks all of the above and then some.
It fills up quickly but not with the crowd you’d expect. There’s a strong rockabilly vibe filling in and I don’t get it….until the opener comes on stage.
I have never seen a crowd so crazy for an opener. Not Cyndi before Cher, not Mars Volta before The Chili Peppers. Never.
Larry and His Flask, in all their moonshine rock folk punk goodness. I’m quickly won over, bobbing with everyone else (actually everyone else was basically bouncing off the walls) mainly because I seem to be a sucker for anyone that shouts “Banjo time!”
They are energetic (understatement), well rehearsed, engaging, full of gritty bluegrass lyrics but the contrast to the workout gear wearing, mustache touting, drama of the headliners is more than a little off.
The break is made. The crowd changes over ushered in by smooth jazz over the sound system while color coordinated pink mic stands are set up by one of the most thorough roadies I’ve seen.The band comes on.
"20 bucks says nobody here can kill me."
If you’ve seen the music video to Oh Lord, if you’ve seen Lessons with Foxy Shazam, if you’ve seen their UK tour update, you think you have a pretty good idea what you’re getting yourself into.
I was so unprepared.
Like David Bowie on acid and every lost scene of Velvet Goldmine.
If there is a mic trick frontman Eric Nally cant do, I haven’t seen it.
They open with the title track from their ambitiously self released, produced and one room recorded in running order and free to download album, Gonzo. Despite only being released in April the crowd is shouting back every word.
If you don’t like pelvic thrusts and aren’t a fan of the cover of the Scissor Sister’s album Night Work, you wont like this show.
For the many that in the past compared the sound readily to Freddie Mercury now have that comparison ripped right out of their mouths.
The look has shifted, the sound has changed but the campy sexuality and larger than life package remains the same. Lyrics sung out in Tragic Thrill match the sentiment “I’m finding out who I was, who I really am”.
The aggressively optimistic lyrics, “If you know what you want, stay where you are…If you don’t know what you want, then shut your mouth” showing the range to hint on the tender tones matched back to back with the darkly sharp chorus of Have The Fun.
Nally calls for singles from the merch stand. He’s shredding and tearing, showering the crowd in money confetti.
But to call him the star is not only wrong but unbelievable. From the chanting from bare chested horn player Alex Nauth, the cape wearing of Schuyler White, the completion between Loren Turner and Daisy Caplan and the intention in Aaron McVeigh, it’s not a place to call favorites.
They stop mid way for an intermission costume change.
Nally challenges the crowd again. This time for cigarettes. Packages litter the stage and he shoves multiple in his mouth and lights up from the crowd.
Tearing apart the clothes he just changed into.
Fan favorites of past albums are played with their splashy horns and bounce. Then back into more off the new album.
"This song’s about time travel….I wrote it next week."
Ending as they opened in a wave of fantastical theatrical confusion as the most quotable concert I could attend.
"Remember kids if the world didn’t suck you’d fall off."
Fozy Shazam had kept on keeping on.
Proud to be covering NXNE this year and starting a whole series on the festival - Check back soon for all the interviews, photos and more!
It’s a drizzling day, the train is packed with baseball fans off to see a Yankees Jays showdown and I’m headed to the Drake Hotel’s underground for a Juilliard graduates album event.
Jonathan Estabrook’s album These Miles is a fusion project of cover pieces by the likes of Edith Piaf to Simon and Garfunkel. It is officially released April 8th but tonight the Ottawa native is giving Toronto a pre-emptive taste.
Headed to coat check murmurs of sound check leak from next door.
To say Jonathan’s jazzy sound and the speak easy - esque underground of the Drake are a perfect Gatsby match is an overused modern analogy but correct in this case nonetheless.
I stay upstairs for a quick drink before the doors open. The rain has let up but the skies are still streaked grey. A vodka sour later I meet the line extending up the stairs waiting to get inside to hear the opera trained baritone.
I grab a few minutes preshow with Estabrooks. He as well as his band in charcoal suits, bebop playing over the sound system. Estabrooks engages me with notes on his busy schedule and his thoughts on success being an elusive idea when I mention his past performance at the Lincoln centre.
The stage is ready and within minutes the seemingly empty room’s cabaret style seating is filled.
The track progression from the soon to be released project is mimicked on stage.
Having the chance to listen to the album beforehand, the on stage Instrumentation thanks to a stellar band is identical to the recordings. Strings, horns the works done through only a guitar bass keyboard, drums and unapologetically Estabrooks’ voice.
A quiet but very interested crowd is greeted by Estabrooks.
“I’ve been dating my album for a year…feels like I climbed 3 pyramids to get here.”
Wonderful and calming there is a moment the mood breaks in an energetic moment as he heads into a Cyndi Lauper cover.
"More booze!" He chimes at the crowd. The demographic is a touch older but the moment of jest and warmth from this exclamation starts a roll of laughter in the audience that send happy shouts back for the rest of the show.
On the Street Where You Live is tucked into the set followed by opera. It’s this versatile and appreciative approach to multiple musical genres that shows wide spread taste, interest and a genuine love of music.
There’s a moment you could even believe he’s lip syncing as the voice is effortless in its body and boldness.
Though I’m standing for the both sets there is never a lull or a tedious turn. It is engaging and the audience clearly understands this. My sentimental heart sticks on Willie Nelson cover and the mash up of All These Things (Hymne à l’amour) to the point my dreaminess leads me to almost drink the candle fluid instead of my vodka. Yikes.
The perfectly paced collection goes into the sole original of the set and album which is co-written with his brother do you know his name. I think of the conversation I had with his kind eyed father during intermission. He told me about his four part harmony folk band playing Froggy Went A-courting from youth. It’s clear the love of music is engrained in the family.
An endearing address of thanks yous, Vaudeville like dance moves explode from him in the final minutes of his set.
Coming to a close with the standard Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home I’m brought back to those first murmurs of the undeniable in sound check i heard through the walls.Follow @ElyseSimpson
It’s really easy to get stuck in old habits. Same playlist, usual drink, regular haunt, typical invitees.
Call up, go out, bar hop, get fed, lather rinse repeat.
So when somewhere pops up that is doing different, fun and easy to adventure into you’ve got to perk up your ears.
There is a local cult following of Snakes and Lagers' sister cafe Snakes and Lattes. Both board-game bars, one beer, one coffee. Great reputation but then again sequels can be hard.
Snakes and Lagers - Photo by With Elyse
Bubbly going in invited for a pre open tasting before the grand opening. Pre opens are always exiting like being in on a secret or the punchline of some fabulous party joke.
Arriving abnormally early I was seated at the sturdy bar with a view of the gorgeous selection of taps and bottles.
The building emulates the nod in the name to snakes and ladders. A thin stretched room to the back stacked with additional seating on the top floor. High tables, booths and gothically vogue stone walls.
Introductions are made and we are launched into educated suggestions on everything from games to beer to munchables.
As a Stiegl girl (a leftover habit from time in Austria) I’m directed towards the Beau’s Lug Tread. Not overly hoppy, crisp and generally just refreshing.
We dig into the nibbles which I’m told are a culmination of worldy pub fair meets street eats. The later clearly coming through as none of them get in the way of upcoming friendly game initiated competitive streaks.
Brussel sprouts in a skillet and kale chickpea salad in a mason jar, all rustically appetizing. Both difficult foods to get right - the sprouts and kale. Done wrong the feelings of a punished petulant child get stirred up but, done right it’s health infused bar snacks. Salty and decadent with beer but with a little more green than usual. Snakes and Lagers does them right. To be able to satisfy craving with a salad is a feat worth mentioning.
Kale and Chickpea Salad, Brussel Sprout - Photo by Daniel Peragine
It’s true when they say all the servers as “Gurus” connect on a personal level. We start a game of Fandoodle (yes actually the name) and our lovely host stays for a few rounds to ensure the ball or rather dice is rolling smoothly.
Sliders and falafel join the table. Not a drop spilled and the gambling style game is full swing. The mix in of white beans for the falafel adds a creamy profile and combats happily with the pickled onion topping while the Mini Mac is the solution to every fiend in need of drive through answers to boozy questions.
Mini Mac Slider, Falafel - Photo by Daniel Peragine
Switching on to Time-line (staff recommended), a historical game to order events of everything from the introduction of the Euro to dear old dial up. It gets you properly attentively thinking and moves us into dessert with cocktails.
Again nuzzled in mason jars are the Lemon Meringue (I can never resist) and The Fluffer Nutter. I’m able to pop behind the bar to see the cheery men at work making me a egg white based Bourbon Sour that I’ve seen circulating the bar.
The slightly deconstructed delicious desserts are texture based and excellently portioned but the knockout is the cocktail deserving of a standing O with its frothy goodness.
Wrapping up I feel, unlike some nights, that I actually did something. A feeling of specialty of an event, out of the norm excitement to draw closer with strangers, colleagues and even the oldest of friends.
Close your eyes and think of Paris.
Warm coffee, sweet baking smells, clean colors and the sound of Juliette Greco floating in. A sign something is a good idea isn’t always obvious but sometimes it is.
Sometimes it’s all in the name. In the case of Delysées literally my name is in the name. Coming in from the wretched cold to a chrome and white long stretched room highlighted with glass cases of every delicious fantasy you’ve ever had. The clientele is happily immersed but respectfully hushed to not disturb the natural elegance of the room as if it’s an opening at the Met.
Sitting down to taste through the menu all enhanced by the company of owner Fred Naggar who has settled into conversation with me. As charming as his young 4 month old bakery cafe, within minutes of arriving, the attention to detail, integrity and tradition is vividly apparent. The latte to start is from a grind always made to order. Light, velvety and quickly accompanied by the sound of croissants in batches of only 8 ready to emerge from the hot oven.
They are over 30% butter and made from carefully sourced imported ingredients. Pulling apart the countless layers of golden dough as welcoming as the first bite of the classic and chocolate versions. The affect is a weightlessness that lingers delicately underneath the next sips of your coffee.
The petite sandwiches are next. Just the length of a salt shaker their base is the fresh baked breads of airy baguettes and homey rye. A selection of 17 distinct classically manipulated combinations that make each bite layered and textural. Smokey red peppers with tempting feta and olives, ham with cucumber and the most seductive of bries.
The careful qualities of the thinness of each ingredient to ensure the sandwich remains as it was made is the higher approach that shows. Throughout the tasting little pauses to appreciate are interspersed with customers coming in speaking volumes as they bilingually chat with the gregarious Parisian owner. The shy excitement between myself, photographer and owner is palpable as we move onto the sweet section.
Crisp white flatware is laid down dotted with macarons and mouses in blushing watercolors and acrylic brights. We start at the soft sunshine colored passion fruit, a now favorite of mine perfumed, tart and hugged by bursting pomegranate seeds. The luscious freshness carries on to the raspberry, hinting memories of childhood summers spent outside. Time slows for each bite that turns into a moment of its own. The chocolate follow up is a rich feathery invitation to the cream and cherry inside and then finishing with nut selections of praline and pistachio. Both as unarguably silky as the others and both distinctly different in their buttery and savory personalities.
Finally are the macarons and my heart sings a little. Raspberry and lychee, chocolate, salted caramel and basil with lime. Looking at the lightly glossed tops of the buttony cookies it’s impossible for a dreamy sparkle not to wash over everything. The chocolate effortlessly centering around a seamless ganache, The salted caramel brightly evenly balanced, the raspberry lychee popping brushed a subtle ombré and the basil lime an unexpected herbal marriage. The first bite from a tender hardness to a soft resolved can only be compared to a first kiss. Unforgettable and excitingly simple.
The escapist romantic in me finishes the last few tastes with an encouraging sigh. A satisfaction melts over that has not been felt for ages.
Delysées is located at 780 King Street West in Downtown Toronto
Comprised of Emily Hau - electric violin, Sharon Lee - electric violin 5 string hybrid, Moira Burke - electric violin 5 string hybrid and Liza McLellan - cellist and song writer, the foursome plus add on drummer Mack Longpre released their debut EP last night at The Tattoo Rock Parlour in Toronto. The San Jose recorded EP was funded through a Kickstarter Campaign.
From just moments into sound check each member’s comfort and command on their instrument is obvious but could this keep a Friday night crowds attention?
Listeners filed in eagerly watching albeit a little intimidated. The unexpectedness in the genre and pure power in their stage presence had the crowd captivated but keeping to the back corners of the room.
Gritty, melancholic and cinematic. Cycling through songs both on and off the EP, moving excitedly around the stage, each trading off the spotlight position.
Not to have their clothes outdone by the music the four girls were clad in ripped corseted Nordic punk attire and wonderfully edged shoes. Mismatched but perfectly placed within their sound.
The seriousness of the strings were cut with disco beats and raunchy feminism. Although entertaining, wishes for unexpectedly arranged covers, considering their resume working with large artists, were left unanswered.
Winding down the 45 minutes that flew by, leaving stage the group was thrown back in by anxious shouts of encore from the crowd.
Maybe Friday night isn’t usually filled with female Gregorian chant type vocals and rock string arrangements but making your way to see Devah Quartet should definitely find its way to your night life to do list.
Devah Quartet Upcoming Dates:
The Boathouse: Kitchener - July 5th
Corktown Pub: Hamilton - July 12th
Fort Erie: Sessions on the River Showcase - July 20th
Inter-Provincial Music Camp: Camp ROCK special guests: Aug 20-23
Buskerfest: Toronto - Aug 23rd and 24th
Music on The Verandah Music Festival: Mississauga - Aug 30th
The evening’s performance was filmed by The Crew (Taylor Brockelsby, Chris Greef, Blake Hannahson, Diego Guijarro, Adam Griffiths),
My article from Issue048 of The Seagull Love Review (TSLR)
Originally published April 6th, 2013 selling out in first run at Ammex Stadium, Brighton, UK