Oddisee at Adelaide Hall 10/12

Oddisee brought the good fight to Toronto on an unexpected Monday night.  The mc acknowledged that the crowd came through on a holiday, in the rain, on a Monday night, and that everyone was certainly ready to rock.  His band Good Compny took the stage first, performing original music, showing their unexpected skills in live remixing some hip hop classics.  The stand out moment for us in the Good Compny opening set was their impeccable cover of Bob James' 'Nautilus'.  The show proceeded as the music faded for a moment, and Oddisee took the stage...

The show began with familiar favourites, with Oddisee launching into 'Ready to Rock' to kick things off.  From the energetic opener Oddisee had his audience screaming at the top of their lungs.  After performing a few from earlier albums he asked the crowd if he could get into some music from 'The Good Fight' and the response was unanimous.  Oddisee's tenth full length album is a masterpiece, and inspiration from beginning to end, and hearing it live it's even more powerful.  This is especially evident in the moments leading up to the performance of 'That's Love', one of the most uplifting and memorable tracks on the album.  Getting the crowd to call out 'That's Love' on cue clearly gives Oddisee and Good Compny as much joy as the song does for all of us.

There's no better place in Toronto to host this show than the recently improved Adelaide Hall.  The sound was incredible, despite questions from Oddisee that he'd frustrated the sound tech.  The slightly hidden gem of a venue has proven to host some of the greatest shows in the city since it's reopening.  This show felt like it had been a long time coming, and for everyone there it was certainly worth waiting for, and as the first North American date on 'The Good Fight' tour Toronto was more than happy to welcome such incredible performers...


JFL42: T.J. Miller

T.J. Miller seemed to take the stage with a sense of both confidence and curiousity.  It appeared to us that a good part of his performance is improvised and that sometimes the show surpised even him with what happened.  He acknowledged that the audience may have recognized him from 'Transformers' or something and showed up to see this.  Miller made fun of the JFL42 credit based admission system, and insisted that the Air Canada and Sirius XM logos remain illuminated for his show.  

The unpredictability of this show is what made it entertaining.  The awkward rants, the ability to start a joke, get distracted and then discuss the joke and why it may or may not work make for a show that's like no other.  This felt like we were experiencing something other than stand up comedy, more of Miller's stream of consciousness.  His observations on our world, though not always amusing are certainly insightful and rebellious.  When Miller got into discussing the futility of trying to stick it to TicketMaster and the most American product on the market from Evian he's leading each and every person in the audience to question the role these companies and what they sell have in their lives.

T.J. Miller is at times tough to follow, a little wild, and certainly whimsical, but there is more to this show than it first seems.  He puts on a show like no one else, and in that he does what no one else can...


JFL42: Iliza Shlesinger

Iliza Shlesinger is in a league of her own.  It's pretty clear to those of us who'd been lucky enough to see her live at previous JFL events, and quickly became so for the sizable audience at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  She patrols the stage with a confidence that only comes from being the sort of person that makes their own rules.  It's an enviable position to those in the audience, as she rolls out an endless list of observations on our society.  One thing is for sure, she makes some sense of our increasingly bizarre world and has us laughing uncontrollably in the process.

One of the most impressive things is her ability to include the material that made her a household name, without completely revisiting previous work.  The party goblin makes an appearance, but not in any form we were accustomed to.  It's clear to the audience that this staple material is part of what makes Iliza Shlesinger such an exciting performer, she's developed these ideas to the point where they work with improvised variations in delivery.  It's something that may be subtle, and potentially go unnoticed, but it's a major part of why she's one of our favourite stand up comedians.

While Iliza Shlesinger appears to be fearless, both in her indictments of our society, and her blunt instructions on how we can each manage to do better, she's still human.  She talks about how tough and scary life can be for women, and though it's done humourously she's still introducing her audience to a reality some may ignore, and reminding others they aren't alone.  The highlight for us was a clearly personal moment when Shlesinger's long haired dachsund Blanche unexpectedly appeared onstage drawing applause from the audience and emotional surprise from her human.  It reminded us of just how tough it must be to face crowds like that everyday, but just how powerful her words can truly be...


T.U.R.F 2015 

The third annual T.U.R.F. Festival brought with it a sense of anticipation.  The lineup promised incredible local talents alongside legendary performances from bands you just don't expect to see, save for very special occasions.  The event was moved from it's late summer spot to late September, but that didn't stop Toronto's music lovers from flocking to Fort York.  The space at Garrison Common is one of the most vital places to experience live music in the heart of the city, and the experience this year was simply unforgettable.

The first day saw the Avett Brothers turn the main stage into a serious party, though quite different from the Mad Decent Block Party, the last one that took place at Fort York.  The Sadies put on a simply enchanting performance, one of several hometown heroes on the bill.  They give the distinct impression that there's something supernatural at work, that they possess some power beyond the music.  

It's safe to say that Wilco stole the show on the second day, performing after a storm, the sun came out for the opening of their show.  Without a word the band played their new album 'Star Wars' in its entirety, and then launching into an incredible collection of songs from the earlier years of their storied career.  As the sun began to set, they did one of the rarest, most unexpected things.  Wilco returned to the stage for an encore, only the second we've ever seen at a festival from performers who weren't headlining.  After witnessing this show, it became clear that this would be remembered as a highlight for years to come.

Following Wilco was the choice of the joyous, energetic Rich Aucoin, and Cake.  Both played incredible sets, leaving us wanting more, and ready to return for the third and final day.  Neko Case, Heartless Bastards, and Will Butler all paved the way for one of the most anticipated performances of the summer.  The thought of seeing the Pixies live stuck with us since the announcement of the lineup was made.  The legendary band may have a slightly different lineup from when those unforgettable songs were recorded, but hearing them live you'd hardly notice.  T.U.R.F. provides something special in the wide world of music festivals, and we highly encourage you to attend next year.  The sounds of new discoveries and legends you never thought you'd see will make for a weekend you'll never forget...

See more photos here


The Mad Decent Block Party: Toronto 8/29

The Mad Decent Block Party took over Fort York, bringing the world class event to Toronto for the fourth time.  Since the very first event in the city, the Block Party has grown.  The lineup has always featured all time heroes from the Mad Decent extended family, as well as newer artists from all over the world.  This time we were greeted by RiFF RAFF, and his special guest CL.  Mad Decent founder Diplo took to the stage with them to perform their single 'Dr. Pepper', perfectly setting the stage for a wild and unpredictable day. 

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