(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.