All Photographs by Paul Shin

This concert was not broken. On July 11, 2009, 18 Torontonians got together to do something they’d all done before. Arriving in town from disparate locations, they met at Toronto’s Harbourfront and went on to play a concert which will undoubtedly be forever engrained in Toronto music history. One of a kind, symbolic, chaotic, harmonious, an end and a start – and to think, it was all born out of an extended apology.

The day was meant to host an annual festival curated by Arts&Crafts Records on Olympic Island. A few months after announcing the show, to the chagrin of many, the festival was cancelled due to worries of competing with the noisy Molson Indy 500 cars racing on the Gardiner Expressway, across the lake only a few kilometres away. In its place, Captain Kevin Drew announced that his band would play a free show on that same evening at the Harbourfront Centre and hoped, with a cherry on top, that this show “with special guests” would be enough to redeem themselves for not cross-checking their dates with David Miller’s calendar first. I was lucky enough to be there, and let me tell you, it was most definitely enough.

From the moment I got there, seeing the multiple cameras rolling, gathering footage for the upcoming concert documentary This Movie Is Broken…I knew that something out of the ordinary was about to happen. For starters, the setting felt more right than any other venue I’d seen them or any derivative of the collective at. Don’t get me wrong, I love Olympic Island, but everything about an experience on the islands feels separate and distinct from an experience in Toronto-proper.

Standing at the Toronto shoreline for a free concert in the nano-sized amphitheatre, I looked around and realized that this wasn’t the typical audience that I’d seen at past BSS shows. Sure, the tweed jackets, fedoras, ironic t-shirts, plaid shirts and dirty-man beards were all there, but they were all interspersed among a crowd including families, young and old, black and white, yellow and brown, from neon-coloured hipsters to urban b-boys, and more. Did these people even know who Broken Social Scene are? I sent a text to a friend, as I settled into a space I found apt, saying that I was praying to the rain gods to wash the riff-raff spectators away, so that I could get closer to the band that I loved more than they did. But rain clouds refused to appear, and I soon ate my e-words.

Continue Reading Broken Social Scene Concert Review »

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— , July 23, 2009    16 Comments

Jason Collett

I have been a long time Ca Va Cool follower and am proud to call a few of the writers friends whom I admire for their taste in music. Being an avid photographer for almost 9 years, my dream has always been to get into concert photography, so when Daniel asked me to step in for him at the NxNE, I couldn’t have been more ecstatic.

For Canadians, summer bodes a ton of opportunities to see many incredible musicians from coast to coast. Festivals in particular have always lured even the most docile fans with the promise of the “most bang for their buck.” Many a great musician, delicious cuisine and beverages ready for mass consumption, all for very economical prices. Not only are they recession friendly but best of all, concert-goers can experience this amongst crowds of thousands that nowadays include everything from your peace-loving hippies, sophisticated Rayban and Fedora-wearing indie kids, to your Keenan-preaching or Rollins-educated counterparts, and in rarer cases those who seamlessly amalgamate all of the above (and more) into one. North by Northeast was no different. The festival took place June 17 to 21 in venues that stretched downtown Toronto. For those unfamiliar, you might be surprised to find out that this is the fifteenth year that NxNE has been rocking Toronto.


My first show was Dragonette on June 18 at the Kool Haus. Martina Sorbara isn’t anything like I expected, she’s even more flirtatious and cheekier live than she came off when I dabbled in the Canadian/British band’s material prior to the show. The setlist of 10 tracks consisted of mainly songs from their debut album Galore. ‘Take It Like a Man’, ‘I Get Around’ and ‘Competition’ were three tracks that stood out live.

Continue Reading North by Northeast Concert Feature »

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— , July 13, 2009    4 Comments

If you don’t know where you came from … who cares where you’re going.

In a recent interview with Pitchfork, speaking about the inclusion of a group of elementary school kids on his and band-mate Zach Sheilds’ new music project (Dead Man’s Bones) beefcake and apple-of-the-Canadian-eye, Ryan Gosling, said the following:

You know when you’re a kid and you get crayons and papers and just draw whatever you want and it’s just a bunch of messy lines, but to you it makes sense, and then they put it on the fridge? From that point on, you’re always trying to get back on the fridge, you start drawing things that look like something, like, the more it looks like a horse, the more chance you have of getting it on the fridge. We wanted to get back to that place before we were trying to make the fridge. We wanted to work with people who hadn’t been affected in that way yet.

The interview goes on to talk about Gosling’s new project, which is shaping up to be amazing – but that part stuck out in my head, made an impression, and re-surfaced when I got a chance to speak with the manager of Kingston, Ontario’s Grad Club earlier this week.

The Grad Club is an old Victorian home on the outskirts of Queen’s University and for 38 years it’s been a home, bar, restaurant and (at times) place for music, for students and local community members. Recently, it was one of a hundred venues to be included in CBC Radio 3’s list of top live music venues in Canada, and over the past few weeks, thanks to votes from patrons, Canadian live-music fans, pretentious Queen’s University students and indie kids alike, has made the top 10 list, currently in contention for the coveted “numba one spot” of Canada’s Best Venue.

For a venue around the size of a student home, with “a stage the size of a post-it-note” located in a city of 120,000, this is really an impressive feat. So much so, that it got me thinking about what has driven people in droves to vote for this charming venue, and what the Grad Club’s success in this poll represents for the live music scene/business in Canada and even around the world.


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— , February 23, 2009    6 Comments