Category Archives: review

[Seen. Chewed. Reviewed.] Front Rot at Riot Fest (day 2).

Sept 17th, 2022 – Mannequin Pussy performing during day 2 of Riot Fest in Chicago.

Day two of Riot Fest brought a new type of energy. The Misfits wouldn’t take the mainstage until 9 pm but that didn’t stop fans from showing love through clothing and makeup. By the time JXDN took the stage, it was clear  Misfit T-shirts were the trend of the day. 

JXDN, singer and TikTok personality, has gathered quite a dedicated fanbase since his entry into music back in 2020. Droves of fans braved the heatwave and planted themselves at the mainstage long before his set time to be as close as possible to their current fav. 

Luckily for them, Yungblud would take that same stage just hours after. With a new album released earlier that month, there was a new excitement to the performance. Of course, the UK rocker knows exactly how to give the crowd what they want. The staples, dancing, twirling, jumping and whatever else one could think of were most definitely present in Yungblud’s set. Amid the frenzy, he stopped the show to speak about the fight for women’s rights in Iran. 

The Joy Formidable has a way of building a moment you crave until it’s over…and then crave it more. Their music has always been perfect for capturing a feeling and turning it into a moment to be transported back to with each listen. Their live shows are a way to immerse yourself in that place and cling to that collective feeling only they can create with their sound. The band has a way of commanding attention. The sound pulls you in, their stage antics begin energetically and build until they are thrashing, seemingly lost in their own sound along with fans. 

Meanwhile, all the Canadians were piling into what felt like a secret Alexisonfire showcase. Of course, it wasn’t JUST Canadians, though the army of Pup T-shirts did add to that assumption. The St. Catherines band is more often seen playing venues like The Budweiser Stage, however, Riot Fest offered fans an intimate live show. Performing on one of the more modest stages gave an extra flicker of excitement. As the sun began to lower, the antics and trashing began. The band sang the sundown and fans moshed the evening into the night.  

Seen. Chewed. Reviewed: Ezra Furman + Stef Chura @ Lee’s Palace

September 9th, 2019 Ezra Furman + Stef Chura stop by Lee’s Palace in Toronto on their current tour

Three songs in, Ezra Furman has thrown his camisole off unveiling a dark dress. Pearls are twisted around Furman’s neck as the guitar in their hands wail comes to an end and Furman takes a breath to address the crowd.

“I’m not going to try too hard to play your favourite songs, tonight we’re playing my favourite songs,” Furman said.

The year of Furman began when the musician curated the soundtrack for Netflix’s breakout show Sex Education, even dazzles in a cameo on the show . Fast forward a few months to the release of the politically charged album, Twelve Nudes, and take a listen to the devastatingly honest view of the artist. I wanna be your girlfriend, a ballad about dating from a transgender POV is a beautifully poignant candid view 2019 needs.

Currently touring alongside Stef Chura, Furman is an act to make you fall in love. Furman first took the stage at Lee’s during Chura’s set to lend vocals to the sings raspy indie rock. Chura focused on her latest album Midnight, a more energetic and appropriately darker album, than her 2017 release Messes.

Stef Chura

Furman followed suit playing a collection of newer songs seeming more appropriate to the musicians current direction musically. The crowd didn’t mind as most already knew the words and danced along hardly taking their eyes off of Furman prowling about the stage in a trance.

Check out Furman’s latest release, a video for Thermometer .

Seen. Chewed. Reviewed: Stella Donnelly @ The Drake

March 24th, 2019 – Stella Donnelly plays The Drake Underground in Toronto

Stella Donnelly walked the stage alone to a roaring welcome of cheers. Donnelly was all smiles as she took her place behind the mic. That was until her first note played and she transcended herself into a special place with just her and her guitar.

It’s no secret that Australia has some of the best artists. With Sticky Fingers, Methyl Ethel and Maisonair all touring Toronto within days of one another it’s fair to say we welcome them with open arms and ears. Hailing from Perth, Australia the singer-songwriter has that special gift that people who make heavily beautiful music must: a slight comedic ability to keep spirits high. Donnelly’s set was emotion invoking and beautiful, songs ended with the audience silent as they came out of their spell she cast on them with each song. Between sets, Donnelly’s charm brought laughs and a endearing personality that kept audiences spirits high. Touring to promote her latest release, Beware of the Dogs, an unapologetically honest album with stories told by mellow guitar and soft hymns, Donnelly is a must see live.

[Review] Get young again because Los Campesinos are back

November 11th, 2018 – Los Campesinos play The Opera House in Toronto for their 10th Anniversary Tour 

Around 16 years old I recall seeing a Budwiser commercial that made me awfully excited about things I did not care about. Beer and baseball were not my great loves, nor would be anytime soon. The same couldn’t be said about that energetic  melody beginning with a few simple guitar strums playing in the background of the commercial. Los Campesinos are an impact-fully perfect band, especially when you discover them at 16. 

Los Campesinos stopped by Toronto to touch the broken hearts of their fans, who despite being ten years older, will scream and dance along to the somber melodies.  

You! Me! Dancing! is their fretfully cheerful song off of Hold on Now, Youngster. Despite the smile inducing tune, this band captures the broke part of all of us by their blatant embodiment of sadness. Because, even 10 years after the release of their album it still is relevant. That was certainly the case at The Opera House when the band exploded onto the stage. Everyone around waited so patently as Gareth David began jumping around as most of us do in our rooms alone.  

Cash me at MOD Club…howbow dah?

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May 14th, 2018 – Bhad Bhabie headlining a sold out show at MOD Club in Toronto 

Danielle Bregoli aka Bhad Bhabie…aka the “cash me outside” girl  is not playing around when it comes to her rap career. After being signed to Atlantic records and adopting the name Bhad Bhabie, (yes this is real), Bregoli has set out on tour. Being 15, it’s not a surprise that her fans are close in age. X marked the hands of those who were underage at MOD Club Monday night, and black bubbles filled the washroom sinks before the show, as the teens desperately tried to rub the X’s off of their hands in hopes the bartenders wouldn’t notice their altered ID’s.

The show was riddled with a hard party vibe as teens dressed in their best haulers to welcome Bregoli. Sweat was nearly visible in the overheated venue as teens bounced along to the blaring beats before and between sets. Tears were a common sight, as Bhad Bhabie made her appearance on stage in her finest tights. Walking from side the side, her performance wasn’t enthralling, but the audience was too starstruck to notice. The crowd chanted along, and screamed throughout each song which seemed to add to the lacking energy of the set.

Whether she’s your thing or not, her latest track has made it onto the Billboard 100, so you might need to get used to upcoming rapper…howbow dah.

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Bhad Bhabie

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Asian Doll

Bruised knees, covered in beer, and a guy who is a little too into it [Front row at Idles]

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March 18th, 2018 – Idles play Hard Luck in Toronto 

Don’t think you’ll be able to walk away unscathed. Idles bring a crowd so dedicated to destruction you’ll hardly be able to stand up. If the front row is your scene you might want reevaluate or bring a helmet. Their rowdy rock from overseas has a way of getting anyone riled up. If it doesn’t best believe the crowd will. The band’s sound is a riot of English rock reminiscent to the best era of punk.

Beth Ditto’s Return To Toronto

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March 17th, 2018 – Beth Ditto Headlines at The MOD Club in Toronto, Canada

Months after cancelling her Toronto show hours before doors, Beth Ditto emerged onto the MOD Club stage to a forging audience. The St. Patrick’s day show began with a slow ballad crushing any reminiscence of a Gossip show. Ditto’s previous band broke up nearly six years before her latest album, Fake Sugar, released. Throughout the show, you slowly forget about the titillating punk attitude as you are enthralled with her new songs. The difference between Fake Sugar is how Ditto’s stunning voice is portrayed. The singer’s dominating intense voice drops audible smirk, instead it’s used primarily for beauty rather than to make a point. At this time in her career, Ditto has no need to prove her talent. Taking on an adult sound throughout the album and taking on genres ranging from disco, rock, pop and even dabble in some country sounds and making each track into a cohesive compilation showcases the genius of Ditto’s work .

STARCRAWLER @ The Garrison

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February 19th, 2017 – Starcrawler plays The Garrison in Toronto

Starcrawler is a baby band with an old soul. Emerging past electronic synths during the band’s formation, their music is a tribute to everything gritty about rock ‘n roll. They thrive in iconic styles fail to make it on stage in today’s market, which is slightly ironic considering their hardly out of high school.  Front woman, Arrow de Wilde, embodies a possessed rock demon while dressed in blood stained clothes. She shares the mic with the eccentrically energetic guitarist Henri Cash. The two create an onstage spectacle which is a performance on it’s own. The rest of the band lays low while the singers belt out rock beyond the years of these kids in the oddest way. Be sure to give them a listen and don’t miss them if they’re in town.

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[Live] Widowspeak @ The Garrison

Widowspeak-10Watch Widowspeak if you dare, but be warned you’re in for a lot more than a show. With all the TIFF excitement and arriving to a room alive with cheers, one would forget it’s a Monday night at The Garrison. Despite the events and the weekday, Widowspeak managed to pull a hefty crowd. Vocalist, Molly Hamilton and guitarist, Robert Earl Thomas offered quick smiles to the crowd before turning on each other for a wordless conversation.

Widowspeak-5Their latest album Expect the Best released last month, set a comfortable tone of old and new songs mixed throughout the set.

“We’re playing a lot of these songs for the first time in front of people,” Hamilton said. Her saccharine voice sounds slightly raspier live, adding a different sound to old favourites. With her blonde curls, ripped skirt, and voice with a slight edge, there is a tone reminiscent to Bully’s Alicia Bognanno, though a much softer side.

The band sets a very separate barrier between them and the crowd. Straying far from the stage’s edge the band member’s stray towards the midstage. Yet, it only adds to their intimate tone. There isn’t a disconnect from band to audience, it’s a subtle way to draw us in to the intense performance.