One of my dear friends recently made me a Spotify playlist in reflection of something I was experiencing. Of all the conversations, feelings, or revelations I was having, something as simple as a hand-crafted list of songs is what made me feel so elated and connected to myself.
These weren’t even songs I necessarily knew or maybe even liked. They were songs that had once helped her, made her feel happy or sad, or thought I might just dig. The progression of the songs and how they changed took me on a rollercoaster of emotions, and it was a nice reminder that I was not the only person to ever go through anything in this world.
Toronto has a wealth of amazing concert venues, and we are very lucky to be living in a city with so much passion for art and culture. Some venues are a bit more cramped and divey, while others are monstrous sell-outs. There can be a lot of factors that are frustrating about concerts, so venues is one I really weigh before I buy my concert tickets. Here are my 5 fave venues to see live music in Toronto.
If there’s one weakness I can never help, it’s buying concert tickets. I am your go-to gal for shows, your concert buddy, your die-hard fan that will always, always say yes to shelling out money the second tickets go on sale.
I’m not saying I do this for every band. For my favourite artists I will almost always get tickets regardless of how many times I’ve seen them, because I know each and every show will be incredible and somehow better than the last. Even if I’m not a fan of the venue, I’ll make sure I score the pre-sale tickets for choice seats, or weasel my way to the front for the best view (reference tip #5 in my earlier post).
A friend of mine recently introduced me to a concert concept that rocked my world. A concept fuelled solely by the love of listening to live music, with no bells or whistles. Just a couple of pals, gathered in a funky space, appreciating the artist grooving out in front of them. This is the kind of thing I thought only happened in indie films and hipster flats far too cool for me.
We often look forward to concerts for weeks or even months, imagining the eargasm our favourite bands and artists will bestow on us. Although we don’t always know what the show will entail, we do have certain expectations about the experience.
Unfortunately, our interpretations of the overall concert can be affected by a slew of things that accompany the reality of live music.
Here are a few tips to ensure you have the best possible time, every time.
1. Use the bathroom right before the show starts
I cannot stress this enough – especially for ladies. Bathroom lines at concerts are a whole other ball game, so to avoid absurdly long line ups and bladder infections, use the facilities right before the concert – freeing you to indulge in any beverages you’d like.
Protip: If you do need to go during the show, time it correctly. I recommend just halfway through the set list, during a song that you don’t mind missing. The more the show progresses, the better each song will get.
I’ve been to enough concerts at this point in my life that the schedule of a show is pretty predictable. Gone are the days of rock bands coming on stage an hour a half late, completely trashed and playing three-hour sets. This largely has to do with restrictions on venue curfews and contractually required set list lengths, where bands just don’t have the same artistic freedom that they used to.
The encore is an opportunity for the band to move away from the usual program. Sometimes they take a unique approach to one of their well-known songs, play covers of their favourite artists, but almost always save their best for last. Encores were traditionally spontaneous and not a guaranteed portion of the set, which makes it ironic that encores are now the most looked forward to part of the performance. Bands almost always leave the biggest fan favourites for the very end to leave audiences buzzing on that concert high.
So how did we get here? How have encores become an integrated part of the set that we scream and cheer for relentlessly, knowing the band is just standing beside some brooms and wires in the wings of the stage, waiting for their cue to come back on?
We’ve all experienced this in some way, shape, or form. I can’t really pinpoint what it is or why it happens, but every time I attend an amazing concert (all the time) I’m left with this elated feeling like I’m on cloud 9. This feeling lingers throughout the rest of the week, but almost becomes an obsession.
When I realize the final song of the set has finished, the grandiose ending and theatrical exit off the stage leave me beaming. I think of it as the closest you can get to the pearly white gates without actually leaving the floor. That thought gets a rude reality check when the lights violently turn on and the roadies immediately start taking apart the set – our set. Don’t they have any empathy??
The crowd starts herding towards the exits, and the ground is riddled with garbage and empty cans. You’re left standing there feeling a combination of “what did I just witness?” and “what do I do now?” Regardless of how you spend the rest of your night, whether you go home with your ears ringing, or continue holding onto the euphoria by going out, the post concert high will kick in shortly after.
Music is completely subjective. Although I have been to countless concerts in my short life, ranging in style, venue, and even country, something will always be a guarantee. There will ALWAYS be these staple crowd members at every single show. I don’t care who’s headlining, whether it’s sweet R&B or good ole’ rock n’ roll. They will be there. And they will find you. So be prepared and keep your eyes peeled next time you’re at a gig.
1. The Superfan.
We know them. We hate them. We mock them. We low key want to be them?? This person knows the words to every song, and is probably singing screaming each line a little too loudly. They’re bouncing around and bobbing and swaying just enough so that every time you cock your head to the opposite side, they block your view immediately. They live and breathe the band, and are one of those people who say things like “I listened to them before they were cool.” Odds are they have probably met the artists, and think they have some sort of social media friendship.
Let’s talk about Bahamas. Not the escape to a warm tropical island, but rather the serene musical creations of Afie Jurvanen. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, do your ears a favour and look him up immediately. A fellow Torontonian, Afie has been creating sweet, sweet masterpieces under the pseudonym Bahamas since the 2000s, and released his first official album, Pink Strat, in 2008. I discovered him after the release of his second album, Barchords, in which my heart was instantaneously stolen.
Listening to his music is the equivalent to floating in a cool river face up while the sun beams down and warms your skin. He makes you feel every emotion known to humankind and is ideal for when you’re feeling sad, and want to wallow even farther. Above all, he and his band are stupidly talented. Up until last week, when I got the chance to see him for the second time, I hadn’t realized how much I had relied on his music for different milestones and phases of my life.