by Elena Gritzan
One of the best things about Toronto’s 12th Anniversary Wavelength festival is getting to see wildly disparate venues around the city. The second night of the genre-crossing festival took place at the Steamwhistle Brewery. Through the window, I could see a red and blue lit CN tower, and the yard outside was full of fake railroad tracks due to the proximity of the Toronto Railway Historical Association. The large room was miles different than the previous night’s show at Parts and Labour, and I’m pretty sure that variety is exactly what the festival is going for.
The night started with co-founder Doc Pickles’ young daughter confidently introducing the first band: “Ladies and Gentleman, introducing…Hut!” The members of Hut are definitely not strangers to Toronto music fans (some members include Hooded Fang/Phedre’s Daniel Lee and Moonking/ex-Spiral Beach drummer Daniel Woodhead). Their loud, energetic garage rock erupted and filled the still mostly empty room (it was a shame that more people were not around to see this early performance – fans of the bands to come definitely would have enjoyed the performance a lot).
The night continued with Silver Dapple and Catl, two bands that kept the volume and energy extremely high. The former brought fuzzy, noisy instrumentals, and the latter was full of heavy, blues-tinged songs about death and drugs.
The real highlight of the night for me, though, was Toronto’s Bonjay. Singer Alanna Stuart stated that Toronto is the only place that they feel their music really belongs – an exhilarating combination of dancehall, soul and electronica. Alanna loses herself completely in the music, dancing and stunning the audience with her incredibly powerful voice. Wordless vocalizations and powerful lyrics swirl together. I think everyone around me was mesmerized, but I forget to check because I couldn’t take my eyes off of Alanna on stage!
Due to release their first full length album in the upcoming spring, Bonjay tried out some new songs on the eager crowd. They are not without some technical difficulties (one song was restarted a minute in and the other does not have a written ending yet), but if this is any sign of what to come from this album, wow. There are really great things ahead for Bonjay.
It came down to a choice to see final act F—ed Up, or to catch the last subway, so I chose to not get stranded by the waterfront, but I did catch the first song of the Toronto hardcore band’s set. The show was also serving as a release for their EP, Year of the Tiger. Images of tigers prowling were projected on the screen behind the band as guitars built in intensity and singer Damian Abraham started delivering his abrasive vocals. Before I left, a mosh pit had already started, Damian was swinging the microphone around on its chord and had already removed his shirt (apparently Austra’s Katie Stelmanis also made an appearance near the beginning of the set). It seemed like everything you would expect from a F—ed Up show: a highly energetic night with an edge of danger.
What stayed with me the most at the end of the night was something that Bonjay’s Alanna Stuart said on stage at the end of a song: “for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t thinking, I was just feeling.” And that is exactly what music is supposed to do.