Show snapshots

I am still extremely tired after going to another show last night, but I think this time around I might have a little bit more focused with what I’m writing about. Since shows have basically consumed my last two days I thought I would share some memorable experiences of shows that I’ve attended over the past few years.

Note: As a regular attendee of live music, when I refer to a “show” I am talking about seeing bands perform live, usually at bars and other types of venues. I neglect to use the word “concert” because that either implies a huge show at a stadium or a playing of classical music from an orchestra, neither of which I do with any regularity.

  • Yesterday I attended a monthly (?) showcase called Pop With Brains, a show where the proceeds go to benefit CAMH. A bunch of amazing bands played, but the most memorable moment for me came when Owel Five, the front man of Dream Jefferson, basically pounced on me from the stage.
  • Last year the organizer of a very interesting yearly showcase tipped me off about Next Music From Tokyo, a Canadian mini-tour where four Japanese bands come and play Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. I had no idea what to expect when I went to the show in early May and ended up at one of the best shows I saw all year. The second band had a large part of the audience square dancing, and the next act played with such fury that an immediate dance party broke out. It was a borderline riot. I can’t wait until the next showcase- I will be buying an advanced ticket enthusiastically.
  • Shortly after Dan Mangan’s meteoric rise to fame, I saw him perform at Trinity St. Paul’s church. After a completely endearing set, he of course ended it off with the oh-so-lovable “Robots.” I was not prepared for what would come next: Mangan strolled out into the audience and by the end of the song had every person out of their seats, singing and clapping. It was like I was in an extremely lively church service.
  • For the longest time I knew who Jason Collett is but had never known the amazing power that man has when he performs. I attended the hometown release show for his brilliant album Reckon and he played for over two solid hours without a break. On top of that, he played with all kinds of amazing people including Andrew Cash, Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, Bahamas, members of Zeus, Charles Spearin and Danielle Duval.
  • The first time I saw Rich Aucoin play. It was at the Drake, and he had three projection screens set up. His set opened up like a movie, and for the next hour or so I was singing along to his songs on cue from Aucoin himself, holding hands with total strangers, partying underneath a parachute and generally feeling high on life. This experience repeated after seeing him again last September, and I was so high on life that second time that the pouring rain following the show didn’t really bother me.
  • Maylee Todd is a very gifted performer, and I learned this after seeing her perform at the ALL CAPS! festival at Toronto Island in August. She stole the show that first night with her array of backup dancers and musicians, and at one point she invited Choir! Choir! Choir! (which is a group of probably about fifty singers) to perform with her. It was so chaotic that no one could tell where the audience ended and where the performers began.
  • Despite some troubles with a guest list, my only time seeing Woodhands live was so, so worth it. A dance party isn’t just suggested with Woodhands; it’s mandatory. It was the only show in my memory in which a band, out of sheer awe of the enthusiastic post-set cheering, played an extra song even though they clearly hadn’t planned it.

And finally, even though I would define this more accurately as a concert:

  • My first big concert was Radiohead at the Molson Amphitheatre on August 15, 2008. The summer was unusually rainy, and it was pouring as my friend and I sat in our lawn “seats” (read: grass). Opening the night was Grizzly Bear, who, shortly after starting, noticed (along with the audiience) that not one, but two rainbows had formed in the sky. It fit that Radiohead happened to be touring In Rainbows at the time. And then, seconds before Radiohead came on, the rain stopped. It was the most magical  night of my life.

These are just a few great things that can happen when you watch live music. I hope you’ve had at least one memorable experience, regardless of whether you care a show- or concert-goer.

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