I first heard of Spiral Beach when I saw them opening for The Go! Team last year. Later, in December, I bumped into Airick and Maddy, the two lead singers of the band, at Bathurst Subway Station downtown. They told me about these free concerts at The Drake Hotel that take place every Monday, and that these concerts were supposed to be some kind of secret. “No one’s supposed to know about them,” they said. Spiral Beach was to play at one of these concerts on January 14th, and Airick and Maddy invited me to come and see their show.

The Drake Hotel is this great little place on Queen St. West claiming to be a “hotbed of culture,” and has an archive of newspaper and magazine clippings on their website to boast about it. The weekly free concerts take place at the Underground and are called “Elvis Mondays”. Apparently these concerts aren’t that much of a secret as they are advertised on their website and MySpace. However, they don’t do very much advertising on top of that. The tradition of Elvis Mondays was started by William New, and they’ve had notable bands such as Billy Talent and Sum 41 perform there before they were even famous. On Monday January 14th, Elvis Mondays celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Spiral Beach consists of Airick Woodhead (anime-haired guitarist), his brother Daniel Woodhead (olfactory-challenged drummer), family friend Maddy Wilde (fashionista keyboardist), and school mate Dorian Wolfe (New York bassist). These kids are only about 18 years old, just graduated high school, and already have their second full length album out, “Ball,” which was released in October last year. This band has been around since 2003 and released their first self-titled album in 2005. They’ve toured with The Hidden Cameras and with Sloan, have played a bunch of festival circuits (their manager said that they might be playing at Virgin Festival this summer), and this year, they’re going overseas for the first time to perform in the U.K.

Spiral Beach – Casual T

On the Elvis Monday which they were headlining, they were trying out some new songs. But apparently, as fellow musician Zachary Stevenson of The Human Statues explained to me, they were a little bit shy about playing their new stuff to an audience for the first time. So they went by the name “Skunt” instead, and that was apparently the second time they’ve ever performed under that name. They were introduced by a one man comedy rock band, and friend of theirs, called The People of Canada, who will be performing at the Elvis Monday this coming Monday, January 21st. The Human Statues will also be playing at Elvis Monday on February 4th and 11th.

Spiral Beach is known for their live performances where they put on spectacular light shows to complement their unique sound which, if I had to describe it, sounds like a thrash metal band playing bouncy new rave music with elements of a circus/carnival. Being 18 years old, they love performing all-ages concerts because they don’t think kids should be barred from listening to good music just because they’re too young to drink alcohol. But I think it might also have something to do with the fact that they went to high school in Toronto, and how they probably want all their old classmates to come see their shows but are still underaged. Whatever the reason, there’s always a particular consequence when you combine kids with music as lively as theirs: crazy skanking. And at that Elvis Monday show, even Zachary Stevenson of The Human Statues and Katie Plant and Anna Mernieks of The Paper Makers were up by the stage dancing with the rest of us.

However, the lively dancing at the Elvis Monday, and the uncontrollable moshpitting at The Go! Team concert was only a small sample of what their live shows can be like. When I met Airick and Maddy on the subway they told me that they prefer to play “alternative concerts,” which they described as something like, “basically, we’re playing a concert in the middle of a huge party that goes on all night.” They played such a concert a few months ago at the Toronto Islands where they had tents, light projectors, and live jugglers. They told me that I can expect another one of those in or around Toronto sometime during March. So you can be sure that this concert aficionado will be attending.

Spiral Beach – Made of Stone

‘Casual T’ is a single they had out last year that had some heavy rotation on CBC Radio 3. It even made it to the end of year R3-100.

Finally, The Miles opened for Spiral Beach on that Elvis Monday. These guys went to high school with Spiral Beach, and Airick even worked the lights for their set. They have only recently formed as a band (last year?), but they already have a self-titled EP out. The drummer for the band also occasionally plays bass and drums for The Human Statues.

The Miles were dressed up in something like what Ron wore in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It had the sort of awkward charm of Napolean Dynamite and Superbad, but when these guys played there was no denying how much they rocked the house. The audience went nuts totally skanking out — it was so much fun to watch and listen to, so much so that even Airick was worried about performing after them. Their sound was more new wave revival, and Airick described them as “dancy-beach stuff”.

All in all, I believe the moral to take away from this story is that Toronto really is the new music capital of the world. As Zachary Stevenson of The Human Statues realized after he came to Toronto from B.C., this was the place that he needed to be. And with two great bands of young kids standing as a testament to where Toronto can take music in future, Elvis Mondays is an excellent place to celebrate this city’s unique music scene and an excellent place to find out about some great local bands. The music sampled here is definitely more than just “music for the kids”. And for all the new music you can potentially discover at Elvis Mondays, all I have to say is: ca va cool.


— , January 18, 2008    Comments Off on Spiral Beach: The Drake Hotel