Nate Bargatze at #JFL42

Nate Bargatze takes the stage and has an instantly disarming presence, no matter the venue.  Within moments his stories seem like they're coming from an old friend.  It's not exactly obvious but part way through the show we realize this is a big part of Bargatze's mastery of the craft.  With such casual ease he performs material that makes it feel like he isn't performing at all. 

The Royal Theatre hosted his headlining performance, and along with him came opener Sarah Tiana.  Her energetic show was a perfect compliment to Bargatze.  She had the audience losing their minds within minutes and set up a brilliant long form set.  Later in the week Nate performed at the Queen Elizabeth theatre opening for Natasha Leggero.  It was incredible to witness his ability to tailor the material to a different audience and setting. 

He lets us into his world, and has no fear in admitting how much he loves Wal-Mart.  Bargatze puts a brilliant shine on everyday life, and keeps you thinking outside your own experience.  He's never loud or outrageous, he'll ease you into a new idea and surprise you everytime.  The Nashville upbringing and laidback attitude seemed to make him a favourite with Toronto audiences.  Impeccable timing and a politely subversive perspective make him a legend, because he makes it looks so easy.


Kumail Nanjiani at #JFL42

Upon greeting the audience Kumail Nanjiani pointed out that this was in fact the second performance of his career in Toronto.  He noted that this was the first show announced, so these are his fans that were really on the ball and yet they lose out on the experience of the first show.  Whether fans of 'Beta Male', 'The Meltdown', 'Silicon Valley', or more likely all of the above, no one in the audience had more impact than Amir.  Nanjiani spotted the young man in the 'Make America Rage Again' hat who cheered when Kumail mentioned he grew up in Pakistan...

...and so began the only stand up show we've seen of it's kind.  We learned a great deal about Nanjiani's life through his discussion with Amir and his mother.  At one point he joked that everyone else should leave so he could talk with them.  At what point Nanjiani shifted from this honest and open discussion to his prepared material was imperceptible.  There we see his true gift for timing, and his compassionate, insightful way of seeing the world. 

A few times the material grew a little raunchy, and the knowledge that a 14 year old was present created tangible awkwardness.  Ever self aware, we witnessed the odd moment of the performer turning his back on the audience in order to be able to tell certain parts of the story of a family visit to 'Fun Land'.  It's a tale that will yield equal parts cringe and laughter should you have the chance to hear it.

In an unpredictable, free flowing, and seemingly partly improvised show there were a few standout moments.  Hearing his parents response to his stand up special 'Beta Male' was relatable and hilarious, especially considering the success of that project.  None was more memorable than his 'encore', where he offered up the last few minutes to questions from the audience.  This element showed his incredibly quick wit, and the unique variety of people that comprise his audience.

The ultimate moment was when he was joined briefly by his wife Emily Gordon, producer of 'The Meltdown'.  The show (co-hosted by Nanjiani and Jonah Ray) has just started its final season, and the two responded together to a question about how they feel about it ending, and what's next.  The openness and honesty in that tiny moment are present throughout his whole show.  Kumail Nanjiani's story, and his ability to make it relatable are what make his work powerful.  Though we may laugh our asses off, we leave thinking about real issues like race, sexism, and whether or not that show is ok for a 14 year old.


TIME Festival 2016

TIME Festival has grown into a very unique event in comparison to the majority of festivals in Toronto.  The crowd is a reflection of the lineup, with the most dedicated fans of every artist on the list in attendance.  The historic site of Fort York is now home to countless music festivals, but something was different this time around.  From the early years of TIME at Sunnyside Pavilion, to the insanity last year thanks to Die Antwoord's headlining set there's nothing else quite like it.  And you never really know what to expect.

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Nite Jewel at the Garrison 

One hot Toronto night the Garrison hosted the Los Angeles artist known as Nite Jewel.  She's touring in support of 'Liquid Cool', her latest album.  The title has also been used as a way of describing her style of music, and it seems apparent to us that it's perfectly fitting.  There's an intagible thing that Nite Jewel brings to the stage and her recordings that is inexplicable, and powerfully magnetic.

The music, at times booming, at times beautiful, almost delicate melodies along with Nite Jewel's ethereal, dreamy voice commands your attention.  The captivated audience made up of those following the much deserved buzz, and those who've known and loved her music since the 2008 demo 'My Cd'. 

It's 'Kiss The Screen' that stands out in memories of the show.  It's one that articulates a universal feeling in the context of our at times overwhelming culture of technology.  With a notion like that, new music as Nite-Funk with Dam-Funk and an upcoming European tour, we hope to hear a whole lot from Nite Jewel this summer.

Get 'Liquid Cool' from Nite Jewel or on iTunes


Top 5 Sets At Digital Dreams 2016

We've been thinking back to last weekend at Digital Dreams, looking at the photos and videos online and thinking of our favourite sets.  We have finally narrowed it down to our top 5, and we're going to keep watch for these sets being released online.

5. Danny Tenaglia:

New York's Danny Tenaglia held down the headline spot at Echo Beach like no one else could.  The veteran dj moved the crowd at one of our favourite venues in the city, and made it look easy as only a legend can.  The balance between new, innovative music and classic tracks makes for the unpredictable experience we hoped for, and exceeded expectations. 

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