Toronto – It was Sunday night, and I had planned a nice casual night in – the past few weeks have been very taxing and with all the G20 shenanigans, I felt that an easy night in was a good solution, but as Harry Potter would know, sometimes you have to choose between what is easy, and what is right. The right thing to do was to go check out some live music and like a good bacteria, get cultured. It just so happened that Esthero was playing down the street at Lee’s Palace. It also just happened that I had a ticket/media pass for the Jazz Festival. It also just so happened that Brian was at the show. With all these factors in place, I decided to check out Esthero at Lee’s.
Brian had told me to get there by 9 (and any sooner would be appreciated). This had me thinking it was going to be an early show and I can be home at 10:30. However, I arrived at Lee’s and there was a massive lineup outside. The doors had just opened and slowly the line of people were making their way in. My dreams of going home early were shattered like a Starbucks window in a G20 protest. Dejected, Deflated and semi depressed, I turn to the console of my iphone, to check out who the opener is. I had briefly contemplated doing a full 180 and go home. I didn’t really know Esthero and judging by her show, I think I may have mistaken her for some other mid 90s singer I had like that one song of. Luckily, I found out that the opener was non other then Maylee Todd, a Toronto singer and a fellow Asian. I had previously enjoyed her show at a No Shame show and I think I also saw her perform in a garage at some point last year. No joke. Knowing this, I abandoned all thoughts of..abandoning the show, and begrudgingly joined the lineup entering Lee’s. I had to support the local scene I thought..otherwise, what would they think? what would they think!
Maylee Todd, as I’ve said, is a Toronto based singer. She has an album coming out June 22nd called Choose Your Own Adventure. I would classify her music as easy listening featuring hints of everything from soul to motown to disco to jazz. Her band, the Pegwee Power consists of Andrew Scott (horns /synth), Eric Woolston(double bass), and Chris Kettlewell (drums/vibraphone), She herself plays the harp, guitar, cowbell and all sorts of random instruments. There were a lot of instruments.
Taking the stage a bit after 9 to a sold out and anxious crowd, Maylee quickly launched into a quiet song (perhaps Protection Plan) that could of been out of 1960s French Restaurant featuring a harp and an accordion. The crowd quickly became quiet, like a monk. One of the things I appreciate about the Toronto Jazz Festival crowd is that they are rather appreciative of the artist, and are fairly quiet during the set. The same situation would not happen with hipsters at the Garrison. Playing to what I imagine would be one of the largest Toronto crowds she’s played in – Maylee, like a cowboy on a cattle drive, reigned it in and produced the tightest set I’ve seen her play so far.
Some of the songs I recognized from her set include the french disco tune Aerobics in Space, the jazzy Summer Sounds and the motown-esque tune called Hooked, which I liked, save for some in song banter. The crowd was definitely into getting into it, and even saw some people dancing during Aerobics in Space. She ended off the set with a upbeat rendition of Patrice Rushen’s Haven’t You Heard.
It was a good show. I really like her motown and loungey numbers. I think it’s a shame the show Ally McBeal isn’t around anymore, because Maylee’s type of the music would totally fit the soundtrack and that cocktail bar they seemed to always hang out in afterwards. Maylee’s got a good stage presence and gives off a nice relax vibe that puts the crowd at ease. It also helps that she has a very sharp singing voice that she puts into good use. The crowd gave her a rousing applaud at the end, indicating that they too were pleased.
For Brian’s review of Esthero, click here.