Music fans in Toronto’s east end often used to have to make a pilgrimage across the Don Valley Parkway for their fill of live music and arts-based community. With the opening of new venues like Polyhaus, and with compelling traditions such as the Feast in the East event, a vibrant and self-sustaining musical community is growing steadily away from the downtown core. Feast in the East, a monthly event combining live music with a themed dinner and art displays, even has traffic moving in the other direction; it is well worth the trip to Greenwood station.
Saturday’s event took place at Danny Green’s, a billiards bar on Danforth avenue. A small stage was set up in the front of the room, placing the audience between the musicians and rows of pool tables. The evening was a co-presentation from Burn Down the Capital, Wavelength and Weird Canada – each of the three excel at putting on engaging, off-the-beaten path shows, so it was a treat to see them join forces for a night.
The feast part of the event was a Sicilian dinner: pasta, polenta and spinach, served up for a donation to support the bands. With stomachs full, the audience was exposed to four bands. The first was fuzzy punk band Hussy, a heavy and noisy experience
which led into the second set by instrumental act Horse Lords. They played long-form jam-based songs, filled with saxophone and guitar players standing off-stage surrounded by their dancing fans.
The show served as a second stop on a tour for scrappy guitar pop band Feel Alright – the first tour that they have embarked on (and already they are experiencing the trials and adventures that come with being on the road, apparently getting caught in a tornado in Montreal the night before). The music was full of sunny vocals and guitar hooks, and sounded like the perfect soundtrack to a hazy summer afternoon dance party. The jangly guitar-based pop continued with the final band of the night, Actual Water. They write songs about Toronto (specifically, Queen St. East food joint The Burger’s Priest), craft short and catchy pop hooks, and have the ability to infuse a crowd with energy.
The strength of Feast in the East is that it really is a sum of its parts: it combines live music, food and (at least for those who live further west like me) a chance to explore a new venue and a more unfamiliar part of town (and for those who live in the east, even better; there are great shows and interesting line ups right near you!). I left the event feeling satisfyingly full – both physically and musically.