Canadian alt-rock band Goodbye Honolulu live at the Mansion, Kingston. Supports: Figure-8 and Fade Awaays.
Rock music lives in its clubs, bars and taverns. Anyone who has been to an “underground” gig can attest to that. There’s something about having a few hundred people tapping their feet to gravelling distorted sounds originating from an amplifier helped by a microphone, sounds that a little bar couldn’t possibly contain for any longer than an album or two; something about the dim, neon lights and black ceilings and dark walls; something about being so close to the ones trying to explain the inner workings of their minds on a little raised platform we call the stage, as they belt their hearts out, vocally, instrumentally; expressively. To anyone decrying the death and decline of rock music, a peek into its true dwellings would prove educational.
On Thursday, 24th October, Toronto-based alt rock band Goodbye Honolulu decided to give a demonstration worthy of representing the 2019 rock music scene as they opened their Fall 2019 tour at the Mansion in Kingston, ON.
They were joined in their endeavour by Gananoque punk rockers Figure-8, who opened the gig with a burst of energy, rocking out to a sum total of ten people as the sparse crowd got moving to fast paced, upbeat songs about growing up, tinged with a hint of Green Day’s 1994 hit Dookie.
Following them were fellow Toronto indie rockers Fade Awaays, a band with a sound bigger than the venue they filled tonight, with a tight, layered wall of sound emanating from the two guitars on-stage, occasionally doubling the rhythm section to form a formidable wall of sound. (For a band that only released their first EP this January, they have some surprisingly heavy weight behind them, having opened for alt rockstars Wolf Alice and up-and-coming Canadian rockers the Beaches.)
Goodbye Honolulu, who had been in the crowd for most of their supports’ sets, came on stage to a well warmed and receptive audience. This band packs fully formed chord progressions and rock riffs into a neat, loud singable pop package that makes their songs so memorable. Their on-stage personality is dynamic, and guitars and basses are frequently swapped onstage as they rip through their long setlist.
Tonight, the band gave the crowd many songs off their yet-unreleased album, a little dose of their own political opinions, in light of Canada’s just concluded federal election (“fuck Andrew Scheer! Fuck Andrew Scheer!”), many little exchanges with the audience, and on popular demand, crowd favourite single “Typical”.
I saw Goodbye Honolulu live at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto six months ago supporting Californian punk rockers SWMRS, and had thought them to be a very well organised act. This time around, in, if possible, an even more intimate setting than Toronto’s iconic club venue, the band let loose the raw energy of a band rearing to take on the notions of what it means to be a rock band as they embark on their latest tour.
Find all three bands on their respective websites (or better yet, at a North American live venue near you!)
Over the past few weeks, I have attended tons of orientations on campus: academic orientations, school spirit parades, Computer Science frosh, computer science frosh, getting used to living on campus orientation, laundry orientation…
And so, this weekend, I put the wonderful advice my seniors had so painstakingly put together for a week’s worth of sermons to great use: I ditched my Sunday laundry, ignored my psychology homework, forgot all about my math and went out for the afternoon and evening, for not one but two music festivals.
Toronto has a pretty unique music scene in that its festivals have a uniquely Toronto vibe. When you think of outdoor music festivals, you normally think of parks or farms like those employed for European summer music festivals (arguably the best in the world) (and perhaps, with the sixteen hour drives like the ones to Pilton for Glastonbury) and American music festivals in the blazing summer (like Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo, or the Warped Tour) and to be fair, music festivals elsewhere in Canada (Montréal Jazz). Perhaps you may even think of large, open air arenas and stadiums.
Toronto presents to you a different kind of intimacy when it comes to its summer music festivals (and I mean summer when I say it. Twenty eight degrees has never felt as much like thirty six and as relentless as it did on Sunday). Enter the Kensington Market Jazz festival (taking place for three days over the weekend, their packed schedule can be found here), a weekend full of jazz music (and a few stretches over to some rock and blues) on guitars, pianos and more. The festival is spread out over fifteen venues all over Kensington Market, the whole event being indoors—in shops!
My buddy and I had time only to head to one venue, having left at 12:00 PM and remembering that we hadn’t had breakfast, nor would have lunch for quite some time and making a pitstop by a Tim Hortons, and caught one set at Tom’s Place, a suit shop.
So here’s Peter Hill, on the piano, in a suit shop, furiously churning out some jazz for a seated audience (I wonder if it’s quite what he’s used to).
It did make for a most interesting sight!
Standing behind a mostly older audience seated so disciplined and listening and nodding along with such enthusiasm it felt slightly out of place to whip out my phone and snap a shot, so this is all I have to offer, I suppose.
But there are tons more elsewhere, for after that, we hopped on the TTC streetcar (I’m still adjusting to not calling it a tram…) and tripped down to Roncesvalles for the annual Roncesvalles Village Polish festival. Roncesvalles is known to be a centre for the Polish Torontonian community, and every year, with official patronage from the Polish Consulate, hosts this day-long music and food fest.
A band in action
And an audience enjoying its day!
If you’d like to listen to snippets of some of the music being played around (and Polish festival or not, not all the music was lyrically in Polish), I have included a drive link with some of the videos I shot around Roncesvalles (three days, and I still screw up that spelling.) WordPress doesn’t currently allow me to upload any media that aren’t photographs.
The entire festival takes place on Roncesvalles Avenue, that’s one long street for the whole festival. A little different from the Reading and Leeds you’re used to, perhaps!
A flamethrower! (video in the link)
No, it isn’t just coordinated clothing. They’re for real. The Navy band!
More music! (Not all Polish though)
And that was the whole stretch of the road.
My buddy and I, not quite convinced that we were done walking for the day, decided to head further up and cross the street to do some exploring. It turned out to be a lovely idea!
Not a bad view…
… and not a bad looking bridge either.
Cross this bridge to the other side to find the waves of Lake Ontario lapping at the sandy, gravelly shores. Welcome to Budapest Park!
Lake Ontario, and part of the Torontonian skyline
The bridge, from the other side
And since there was water, we ran into some little friends of ours…
… silently quacking away about their shit day jobs on their way to downtown. Sunday’s the only day they can go downtown with fun on their minds. It was a well used break, or so I heard.
Between my friend and I, we quite thought this one picture summed up our year ahead at university quite well: the first ten days, you walk along a carefully planked, well-defined path. Then as you head onto the sands, you tread through a downward curve. From there on, you gain velocity as you descend further down your path with heavier, more uncontrollable steps. There’s a sign board explaining what the various flags to watch out for are, but of course you didn’t notice that. Then come the midterms where you dive into the cold water (absolutely no reference to respite from the heat here, by the way) and try to get swim to the shores but a sudden wave arrives on the waters that honestly seemed pretty still from the admission page far. You try to salvage your record swimming through December (in the icy cold (frozen?) water too, yikes) and finally reach the stones. Congratulations, it’s Christmas and you haven’t died from hypothermia! Time to fix your mental health. You get up and walk along the top, regrouping as January and February go by, only to find that your path has abruptly ended and there are rocks under the water surface and it’s April again. The lifeguard’s off-duty today, of course! (It’s Sunday.)
Pretty apt, eh?
We decided to head back to Roscenvalles Avenue to revel in the festivity for a little while longer. Midterms can wait!
Up and onward!
To your embarrassed ex-design student, what do you suppose that there ‘CGI’ reads?
We also ran into some unintentional queer support, so yay for Toronto!
A magician at work. Don’t ask me the Polish angle; he’s Torontonian.
As we passed by a band belting out the blues, a lot of enthusiastic older couples starting waltzing (though I’m not dance expert, so don’t hold me to that!) There was this one guy, amidst them all, in a real mood of his own, dancing by himself.
That was, until a real nice lady stepped up and began to dance with him. It made for a more inspirational story than I as a university student could provide you anytime in the next half decade, so you’re gonna have to take it. I managed to get some of that on record too, and to be honest, compared to the videos, the story the pictures tell is underwhelming.
He starts out an awkward lone man dancing, ends up owning the floor, and then winning hearts. What a champion.
And then that was it. We headed back home with trumpets in our ears, crumpets in our stomachs… no, I just said that because it rhymed. Keeping with the Polish theme, we had pierogi. Pretty good, and surprisingly filling!
That sort of sums it up. Yes, this is part of my dorm room. Don’t judge me. I cropped out the sheer mess. I also cropped out the ‘Computer Science department’ sticker I’ve had since orientation, so are we on speaking terms?