by Elena Gritzan
For all musicians, the first time playing their instrument is likely a stand-out moment. Pearl of Toronto band Everything That’s Fly’s early lessons in piano resulted in her teacher banging her head into the piano – not exactly an ideal first experience! Yet she persevered and pursued music anyway; taking lessons gave her a gateway into a passion for making music that is clearly taking her far. Yet not every child has the opportunity to learn an instrument, which is what makes Music Box, the charity that sponsored last Thursday night’s show at the Rivoli, so important.
The University of Toronto chapter works out of the Yonge Street Mission to give weekly music lessons to underprivileged children in guitar, piano or violin. The emphasis is on helping them experience the joy of music, by playing pop songs and generally having fun with their instruments. The money raised from the night went towards lesson books, instruments and amps, and to reimbursing the volunteer teachers for their transit. A worthy cause indeed.
The show itself started with Toronto’s Matt York. Armed with just an acoustic guitar and his warm voice, he shared earnest, emotional songs. He claims that lyrically, “the best policy is always to be honest.” This manifests in songs such as the musical letter to his wife called “Lucky Man” that starts with an admittance that he does not know the answers to the questions of the world.
Everything That’s Fly gave a change of pace, inciting some dancing with their upbeat cross-genre music. I could not get the thoughts of Bonjay out of my head (a powerful, soulful voice combined with punchy electronics), but Everything That’s Fly added an even wider variety of influences: rap and guitar with a tinge of rock and blues were thrown into the genre mix. It was a combination that worked, both in their original songs and the occasional cover (Pearl’s voice shone on a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Stronger Than Me”).
Both acts made sure to share their appreciation for Music Box – it was duly noted that some of the kids learning through the charity now could be the ones performing on the stage in a few years. I feel like I have to give the final word to Dan Mangan, with something he said when I saw him perform in London, ON over the summer: “everything you can do to support music in your community will make your children better people”. Music Box is definitely taking steps towards accomplishing that.