Arcade Fire

8 Years in Toronto: My Favorite Toronto Concerts

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View of downtown
(Photo from Photoderek)

Toronto – Eight years ago today, I packed up my bags, bought a one way ticket, flew across the country and moved to what I think is the greatest city in Canada – Toronto. It was a pretty easy decision to move from Edmonton, I had grown increasing bored with the city. I had originally wanted to move to go to other universities but my inability to go to high school classes consistently and pay attention to University submission deadlines put a disruption to that plan. However, after I graduated, I was able to find an acceptable job doing web development and thus started saving money to make the move. Toronto was always the idea because they had really good concerts, was a big city and I had some distant relatives there who I could probably get a free meal out of if need be. Since settling down originally at the glorious corner of Yonge and Finch, I have moved no less than four times and now find myself comfortably living on the west side of the city. It’s been a pretty good ride so far.

Anyways, long story short, here are my eight favorite Toronto concerts, in no particular order.

Franz Ferdinand, Horseshoe Tavern, February 23rd, 2004

This was my eighth show in Toronto, but first show that was like ‘holy crap, there’s this crazy up and coming band playing the Horseshoe’ show. Take Me Out had just barely come out and over the course of the few months after the song would elevate Franz Ferdinand into indie rock stratosphere. It’s been such a long time since that song came out but people forget how absolutely awesome that track and the entire album was. Take Me Out‘s staccato guitar line breakdown/build up was utterly the most amazing thing you heard when you listened to that track for the first time and it still sends goosebumps whenever this track is played at a club. The Horseshoe was sold out and brimming with excitement that night and the band seemed to feed off that excitement and just absolutely rocked the house. I’m sure if twitter was around at the time, it would have exploded the internet with all sorts of ‘killing it’ statements. I’ve seen Franz three or four times since, but none have matched the excitement of that very first show.

Morrissey, Hummingbird Centre, October 12, 2004

It’s freaking Morrissey. I think he started off the set with Bigmouth Strikes Again. As crazy as the man is with all his anti-everything stances, Morrissey puts on one hell of a show. I think half the amusement of seeing a Morrissey show is to see all the people climb up on stage trying to touch the guy. One of my friend, Dan, was able to go up and get a hug while one of his friends, whose name now escapes me, got strong armed by security just out of arms reach. Neverless, the man sang many classic Smiths tunes as well as some solo stuff. Can’t beat listening to There’s a Light That Never Goes Out live.

James, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, September 30, 2010

Another one of my favorite bands, I’ve seen James four times now and this show was the best of the bunch. Forget that I arrived at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre half drunk from an open bar Nuit Blanche launch party, James started the set with an acoustic version of Sit Down while walking through the crowd! They then played a hits filled set that included one of my favorite songs of all time – Tomorrow as well as a stage invading version of Laid. Few bands can build a connection with the audience as sincere as James can, and that fateful night in September was a perfect example of that. Original review here.

Arcade Fire, Massey Hall, May 15, 2007

The Arcade Fire play exceptional shows. Anyone who has seen them live can attest to that. Combine that with the legendary Massey Hall and you have one hell of a show. Even better was the fact that I was within 2 feet of the stage, The unrelenting energy of the Arcade Fire is rarely matched by other bands and they do a great job of making you feel that at that particular point in time, there is no other place on Earth you would rather be. Here was my original review.

Manic Street Preachers, Phoenix, October 5, 2009

This might have been my favorite Toronto show of all time. I absolutely love Manic Street Preachers so it would make complete sense that I would go nuts when the Welsh trio took the stage at the Phoenix and started with Motorcycle Emptiness. Who starts a show with one of their best songs? The Manic Street Preachers do. The rest of the 90 minute was pure sing along awesomeness, and I’ll never forget James Dean Bradfield standing on the speakers playing A Design For Life as the crowd sang along with arms in the air. Here was my original review.

Flaming Lips, Molson Amphitheatre, July 8, 2010

This Flaming Lips show was so good both Paul and Allison felt compelled to write reviews of the show. A Flaming Lips concert isn’t just a concert, it’s an experience that hits you on all senses. The Oklahoma band was simply on top of their game that night, obliterating your mind with an army of confetti, mascots, psychedelic video and Wayne Coyne’s insatiable lust for love. There are very few songs that are done better live than Do You Realize? and once you’ve seen that song played live in all it’s glory, you will always get goosebumps when that song is played anywhere. Pretty sure all music fans should go see the Flaming Lips, so that they can have a good barometer to judge a band against when they are claiming someone is “killing it” . Allison’s review is here

Patrick Wolf, Mod Club, NXNE, 2009

An absolutely chaotic and insane show featuring one of the more talented individuals to come onto the scene in recent years. Patrick Wolf‘s semi home coming show was a combination of amazing music, theatrics and temper tantrums that made for an unforgettable opening night at NXNE. While many others were at the Arts and Craft showcase watching friendly Canadian bands playing friendly Canadian music at the Courthouse, we decided to see the eclectic Patrick Wolf, who just released a stunning album in The Bachelor (part one of two, the second of which has still not been released). There was costume changes, violin duels and great music. Dealing with sound problems all night, Patrick Wolf at one point threw down his mic and left the stage for a good twenty minutes before returning triumphantly to play the rest of his set. Probably best summed up in pictures, of which Gary captured many. Read here.

Belle and Sebastian, Massey Hall, October 12, 2010

Expected awesomeness once again delivered as my favorite twee band Belle & Sebastian played my favorite large capacity venue at Massey. This was the second time I had seen Belle & Sebastian at Massey but this show had the luxury of not having some random women show up on stage halfway through the set to sing a song she wrote (that happened in 2003). I also had the luxury of having second row seats. You could do worse than hearing Sleep the Clock Around in it’s full glory at a favorite venue. Review Here

So there you have it, eight of my favorite shows in the city I now call home.

Polaris Prize 2011 Shortlist announced! A quick and honest analysis

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | 1 Comment

Toronto – Now that the Polaris Prize shortlist has been announced. The race begins .. to post this article so that we can get some cheap hits. I think other sites posted before ours, probably because I was too busy seeing if I won the Polaris Prize shortlist pool that I was a part of. It appears that Frank from Chromewaves and some dude from Maple Music won, with 8/10 picks correct. I scored a 6/10 which is pretty good since I think I’ve listened to maybe 6 of the 40 albums on the list. I probably owe them something.

Here is the list of albums on the shortlist. Thanks to other bloggers out there for quickly posting this list, allowing me to just copy and paste it.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Austra – Feel It Break
Braids – Native Speaker
Destroyer – Kaputt
Galaxie – Tigre et Diesel
Hey Rosetta! – Seeds
Ron Sexsmith – Long Player Late Bloomer
Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
The Weeknd – House of Balloons
Timber Timbre – Creep on Creepin’ On

Nobody predicted Hey Rosetta! in our poll, and it’s sometimes easy to forget that the Maritimes do exist and have some say in the short/long list votes. I think Timber Timbre got voted in because it celebrates Canadian bilingualism – Timber = English, Timbre = French. That’s as big a statement about Canada as you can make.

I think this award is the Arcade Fire’s to lose, although sometimes the voters might think of themselves as cool and go against the grain and give it to someone else. What do you think?

The Polaris Prize is awarded on September 19, and the winner will get $30,000 straight cash, so basically they get what Drake spends on a quiet Friday evening out with the boys.

Polaris Prize Shortlist 2011: The Predictions

Posted on by Ricky in Music | Leave a comment

Toronto – Today, at approximately 2 PM, The Polaris Prize shortlist for 2011 will be announced. Some fans will rejoice while others will be left in bitter agony. It’s an exciting time for Canadian music right now, and this years nominees represent the ever growing presence of Canadian music throughout the world. With that in mind, here are the ten bands that I believe will be on the short list.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Duh. Arcade Fire took on the world last year and won. Plus, all the voters probably want to hang out with Win and Regine at the party.

Austra – Feel It Break
Upstart female electro band released an amazing album this year along with one of my favorite tracks with the song Lose It. They also fill the electro album/gay icon album quota for the Polaris jury this year.


Braids- Native Speaker
The other upstart group quickly rising to prominence thanks to some massive NXNE hype. The inclusion of this album will make people think that the Polaris Prize is still hip, current and relevant.

BRAIDS – “Lemonade” by BRAIDS

Buck 65 – 20 Odd Years
The standard hip hop album that gets nominated, also, because Buck 65 has been around forever, you can call this a career achievement nomination. He also has one of the best Cribs episodes I have ever seen.

Destroyer – Kaputt
West coast representation here, but Kaputt is an amazing album and if Dan Bejar makes it to the award show, we all know he’d be a riot.

Galaxie – Tigre et diesel
Default French music selection.

Colin Stetson – New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
Default out of left field selection.

The righteous wrath of an honorable man by Constellation Records

Neil Young – Le Noise
Neil Young got so much love and was so cool at the Junos, you can’t possibly deny his entry into the Polaris Prize shortlist. Also, a nice cap for his career.

Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing
One of the hottest bands out there right now, The RAA put out a solid album AND fulfills the band that’s kinda from the Prairies but really, lives in Toronto quota.

Stamp by theraa

Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart
Originally, I had Imaginary Cities, but there doesn’t appear to be enough West Coast representations here, so I put Black Mountain here, which will appeal to the psych rock fans and also people who appreciate good album covers.

What do you think? what is your short list?

Predicting the Juno Award Winners, 2011

Posted on by Ricky in Music | 2 Comments

Toronto – This year’s Juno Awards has been deemed the rebirth of cool by certain marketers, mainly because it’s being hosted by Drake and will feature the Arcade Fire (who?). Here are my predictions for this yearly awards show.

Winners will be in bold/italics

Juno Fan Choice Award

Johnny Reid
Justin Bieber
Michael Buble

Ultimately, this award becomes a contest about which demographic has the most time on their hands/most desperate to see their hero win some meaningless award. Narrowing it down to soccer moms and pre-teens, I see Michael Buble and Justin Bieber in a tight battle, but lets face it, the kids have way more time on their hands. Justin Bieber wins.

Single of the Year

Classified – Oh Canada
Drake – Find Your Love
Hedley – Perfect
KD Lang – Hallelujah
Young Artist for Haiti – Wavin Flag

If it was Young Artist for Japan, I would bet on them winning, but Haiti was so 2010, so this award will probably be given to Drake, who is also hosting, as a gift.

International Album of the Year

Emimem – Recovery
Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
Ke$ha – Animal
Lady Antebellum – Need You Now
Taylor Swift – Speak Now

Normally, I would pick the person who is performing at the Junos to win it, but none of these artists are doing it. I would say Emimem will win it, based solely on geographical proximity. Detroit is close, California is far, as is the south, and I don’t know what institute they let Ke$ha out of.

Album of the Year

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Drake – Thank Me Later
Hedley – The Show Must Go
Johnny Reid – A Place Called Love
Justin Bieber – My World 2.0

This is tough category, but ultimately, you give it to Arcade Fire, who had the best album out of the bunch. It’ll also allow the “Who is Arcade Fire?” meme to continue. Unless you want to start a “Who is Johnny Reid?” meme to start, then you give it to him. I thought he was that surfer dude who committed suicide in the OC.

Artist of the Year
Johnny Reid
Justin Bieber
Neil Young
Sarah McLachlan

I am sure Drake’s handlers negotiated a few awards in return for him hosting. This is probably one of them. They might give this to Neil Young too, which will then turn into a five minute standing ovation. Most award shows need one of those moments where everyone in the audience gives a lot of respect to some old dude, so Neil Young could be your dark horse winner.

Group of the Year

Arcade Fire
Down With Webster
Great Big Sea
Three Days Grace

Arcade FIre will win base on my “Arcade Fire sweeps Juno” theory. Does Great Big Sea get nominated every year? They’ve done the same things the past fifteen years, so what makes them more special this year? Are they just a base for people to compare against? Do they have another song thats not “Ordinary Day”?

New Artist of the Year

Basia Bulat
Bobby Bazini
Hannah Georgas
Meaghan Smith

How the hell is Carbou a new artist? Might as well nominate Neil Young in this category if you are pulling that shit. I pick Hannah Georgas to win this one. She has the best sounding name and is nominated more then once.

New Group of the Year

Die Mannequin
Said the Whale
Misteur Valaire
My Darkest Days

I’m picking the french group no one has heard of, because we need to show our cultural diversity.

Songwriter of the Year

Arcade Fire
Hannah Georgas
Royal Wood
Sarah McLachlan

Despite what you might think, Sarah McLachlan will win this one. I don’t even know what her songs are about, but she is pretty much royalty in Canada and thus, must win an award at every Juno.

Alternative Album of the Year

Arcade Fire – Suburbs
Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
Karkwa – Les Chemins De Verre
Owen Pallett – Heartland
TPC – Champ

This is where award shows get stupid. If Arcade Fire is already nominated for album of the year, isn’t it obvious they win this one? The rest of the other albums weren’t nominated for album of the year. Anyways, if Arcade Fire doesn’t win, count on Karkwa doing it.

There are far too many categories to pick winners for, so that’s about all you get.

The Juno Awards are on Sunday at 7pm or 8pm on CTV.