Memorable Shows at The Phoenix

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment

It was announced this week that The Phoenix Concert Theatre was either closing or moving somewhere due to Condo development or something. After 33 years in the same spot, the venue is set to close its doors in January of 2025.

Anyone who enjoys live music in Toronto has been to The Phoenix, which, if we were to be honest with ourselves, was kind of just a meh venue. It was situated in a slightly out of the way spot, the sightlines at the back were trash and for some reason they would swap the male and female bathrooms sometimes depending on the show. Either way, it was still a place where many memorable shows took place. Here are a few of mine, in no particular order.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs/TV on the Radio (2004)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs were touring for their debut record Fever to Tell and, as you can imagine, this show was awesome. I had just moved to Toronto like a year before and I had never seen anyone perform live like Karen O did. It was also notable because it was someone in TV on The Radio’s birthday and they brought out a cake and sang Happy Birthday after.

PJ Harvey (2004)
This show was memorable to me because the Phoenix on Friday/Saturdays would have early shows for concerts, meaning they ended at 9pm. This is because at 9pm all the clubbers come and do whatever they do. For me, PJ Harvey playing an early show on this October night allowed me to pull off a double show – PJ Harvey at the Phoenix from 7 to 9, and then the Libertines at the Opera House from 10 to midnight. What a great night of concert going.

The Beautiful South (2006)
This show was memorable because I was an idiot and didn’t know the show started at 8pm. I arrived at 9:30 after a soccer game to just hear the last song and the encore. They never toured Toronto again. Sad times

James (2008)
The first time I encountered a James live show. They are amazing live – every song is a singalong and you just get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside whenever you see James live. Can’t wait for their show in October. This was a memorable one because it was just an awesome show and I remember my friend Mark saying afterwards, “I wish I knew their songs more.”

Manic Street Preachers (2009)
My first Manic Street Preachers experience. It was hard to believe they can fill Wembley in London and they come over here and play the Phoenix. The crowd was great and the band was great. This was one of my favorite shows ever, and the last song – “A Design For Life” – where James climbed the speakers and sang along with an adoring crowd is still etched in my mind to this day.

The xx (2009/2010)
Hot off the heels of their stunning debut album, The xx chose the worst possible venue to play their music. They were paired with Friendly Fires, who were also gaining popularity but had a completely different vibe. The mish mash of bands and a very chatty crowd resulted in an uneven debut performance. Still, it was the first time we saw The xx, who have since gone on to much more spectacular things.

What were your favorite shows at the Phoenix?

SXSW Song of the Day: DE FACTO – Legend Of The Four-Tailed Scorpion

Posted on by Paul in Everything, Song of the Day, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Today sees another announcement from SXSW highlighting the latest round of musical acts set to play Austin next month. And unsurprisingly for an Austin-based festival, there’s a fair number of acts from the Lone Star State on that list, including Austinites such as Blushing and Farmer’s Wife.

One name in particular that sticks out in the latest announcement is DE FACTO, the El Paso dub group formed in the late ’90s by Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala (of At The Drive-In/Mars Volta fame). Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala will also be in town promoting Omar and Cedric: If This Ever Gets Weird, Nicolas Jack Davies’ documentary on the duo’s “artistic and personal relationship,” which looks like it should be a good one.

Check out “Legend Of The Four-Tailed Scorpion,” the lead track from DE FACTO’s 2001 album Légende du Scorpion à Quatre Queues, below.

SXSW Review: iLe, March 15, Radio Day Stage

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment


For the most part, I think the Grammys are useless and pretty much a poor indicator of anything in terms of the music I particularly like. However, in the context of international music, where there are less yardsticks I am aware of that can be used to assess quality, The Grammys could be of moderate use.

When I saw that Puerto Rican musician iLe was playing the Radio Day Stage at SXSW, I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but when I saw that she was Grammy approved then I was like “sure, why not?” That was a good decision.

In Austin to promote her new record Nacarile, Ile put on a fun afternoon show that had the crowd moving inside the cavernous stage that is Ballroom A

iLe sang tracks that included ballads, synthy pop numbers and what I can only describe as tropical vibe tunes, all while dancing what I think is salsa or something Caribbean on stage.

A pleasant time.

Song of the Day: Benedictus, Requiem in D minor (WA Mozart)

Posted on by Gary in Everything | Leave a comment

I have not listened to Mozart’s Requiem in full for over a decade. It is an oddly morbid thing to have surfaced randomly… or perhaps it’s just on my shuffled playlist?

As it is wont to do, the internets is full of opinions on which is the most “definitive” version. I can’t fathom sitting down and researching, note for note, the different character and performance caliber of modern interpretations from Marriner to Karajan to Celibidache to Herrewghe, while faced with something so categorically assigned to call out a range of emotional instead of analytical reflexes. There is the requisite loss, anguish, march, and lamentation. But I’d argue it has sublimity sprinkled everywhere, as well.

One of my favorite sections is Benedictus. “Crowd pleaser” being a somewhat inappropriate term here, it may be the next best thing to having flights of angels sing you to your rest.

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