I’ve had my fair share of interesting and slightly confusing encounters at shows, but Monday night at Toronto’s nacho mecca Sneaky Dees was a first in that I actually ended up missing the first two bands Greg Rekus and Damnit Goldie. You may be wondering how exactly I managed to do this, as it is literally my job to be there for the whole show to review all the bands on the bill, not just the headliners. Our aim at Bucketlist is to represent our local talent, after all.
The doors were listed as 7pm. When I showed up just before 7:15pm, I was told by a few people standing at the entrance to the venue section of the building that “they were not ready yet” and to “come back in 15 minutes or so.” Okay, no problem. It’s not uncommon for shows to run a little late. I even clarified with one of the gentleman that the show hadn’t started yet to avoid something like this. He assured me that no, it hadn’t. I went next door to wait it out over a beer, and came back 20 minutes later after I was informed that I had already missed two bands. My thoughts were something akin to, “What the fuck?”
Whatever happened here means that I can speak about neither Greg Rekus and Damnit Goldie, and to these bands I sincerely apologize for this. I can however, tell you about the half of the show that I did see. I can even tell you that it was one of the best shows I have seen in a while.
The third band of the evening was Toronto’s Conversation, a punk rock five-piece with energy to spare, even after kicking ass on stage. Featuring two blocks that lit up when they were stepped (or jumped) on in front of the stage, Conversation played a heavy and entertaining set through and through. Mentioning that they had played with Ninjaspy in Vancouver some eleven years ago, this time Conversation shared their contagious sound on their own turf. From track to track, the band mates took turns on the center stage of the light-up blocks, engaging with the crowd and knocking the shit out of their instruments and mic. The highlight for me was towards the end of their set when vocalist Timothy Bolton made some apt remarks about society’s reliance on cell phones and screens, asking everyone if they might put down their devices and experience what it is like to live in the moment. It was a perfect way to end an awesome set.
Following a small technical delay that came in the form of a power outage, BC’s trio Ninjaspy took to the stage. Dealing with the outage in the only way you can – humour – the three bandmates and brothers gave off a humble and kind vibe before breaking right into “Speak,” the single off their most recent album Spüken. With a more engaged light show to match the sheer intensity of their sound, Ninjaspy’s reggae-fusion-meets-metal is even sweeter when played live. As they continued into their set a small pit began to make an appearance, but people honestly seemed more interested in listening to what was going on before them rather than pushing one another around. Playing “Jump Ya Bones,” they melded the best of both worlds with catchy yet heavy hooks and groovy ska breakdowns that made you want to skank for the rest of the show. All in all they played a wholly well-rounded set that seemed to come from totally genuine musicians who just want to play.
Despite missing half of it, for me this was the best show of 2017 yet.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
Photography by Gabby Rivera
*edited by Kate Erickson