Road Blog: Friday May 20, 2016 - Toronto, ON
May 20, 2016
We spent a little time at our AirBB yesterday then headed into the city to hit a record store and grab some curry with the Mighty Ffud before load-in. Rotate This is my first stop in Toronto, usually, but Karen – our beloved GPS – wasn’t notified that they’d moved, so we spent 25 minutes weaving in and out of traffic, bikes, skateboarders, annoying little dogs, and hipsters just to find ourselves in front of an overpriced bistro-brewery instead of the record store we were looking for. By then it was time to meet for dinner so no Toronto vinyl for us.
We met up with the Ffud guys and our good pal and honorary merch slinger Paul Easterberg (who I’ve started calling Paulie, whether he likes it or not) for some Indian food at a restaurant between the now-missing record store and the venue. Upon taking our seats, we were a little skeeved out by the slimy floors and food remnants scattered about, but the food was pretty good. Not life-changing-every-time good, but better than average. I had curry chicken and mulligatawny soup and it was damn tasty. Gabe had daal with spinach that he liked a lot and Patty had a lamb dish. Patty was not impressed and scowled disapprovingly.
Junction City Music Hall is a basement bar in an up-and-coming neighborhood of Toronto, named for an old railroad junction that used to be there. We loaded into a back door from the rear alley and down some concrete stairs where local headliners The Celebration Army were soundchecking. Paulie, the consummate roadie, was saving a parking spot for me a quarter block away.
Right off the bat things were a little different here. The sound guy Zach was super friendly and eager to give each of the 3 bands a soundcheck (that rarely happens). The door guy introduced himself and asked us who we had for the guest list and what we thought he could tell passers-by about the band to get them in the door (that never happens). The bartenders were happily explaining the subtle differences between all the Ontario micro-brews and which ones they prefer. These people were all so friendly, we felt very welcome. We soundhecked 2 songs, including our new one “Don’t Have to Ask Twice,” which has a transition that we’ve been blowing for the last 3 weeks. We worked that part for a couple minutes and Gabe pinpointed what I’d been doing wrong so I felt like we were finally going to nail it (haha – “we”).
The Mighty Ffud took the stage around 10 to a good crowd of people and played another great set. So fun to watch these guys work. Their harmonies alone make us realize that we have some work to do. They closed with a cover of Spirit’s “I Got A Line On You” again and everyone really dug it.
My good pal Woody from Magwheel Records showed up and we got caught up and traded some vinyl, then another good friend Erika Werry showed up and we had a few minutes to chat too. Last time we were in town we played with her band and I’ve had her last record on rotation since. She’s a rockin’ sweet girl and it was great to see her again.
We were up next and felt a little more together than we did in London. It may have had something to do with a significantly diminished amount of whiskey, not sure. The room was pretty full and people were attentive and enthusiastic. We played well and I got the part right on the new tune. It’s the small victories, folks. After us, The Celebration Army hit to a fairly packed room and played some groove-rock to thunderous applause. They were all nice dudes and fantastic musicians and they’re clearly making a splash in their scene.
We said goodbye to Woody and Paulie – sad that I’ll miss my Toronto friends, but glad that we got to hang, and confident that it won’t be long before we cross paths again. Before we left I had a great chat with the owner/promoter Nathan about many things – his experiences in Detroit, my dealings with other Toronto venues, the Drive-By Truckers, The Hold Steady, The Detroit Lions, and Graceland, just to name a few. It was a fitting cap to our show at the Junction City Music Hall – we made some great friends and had a fantastic show. We’ll be back!
I was designated driver night so I brought `em back alive. Gabe and I devoured our leftover Indian food and Patty scoffed at us from the corner before we all crashed out around 2:30am. At 6:30 this morning the God damn alarm clock next to my bed at our AirBB clicked on in the middle of some God-forsaken Styx song. I unplugged it and tried to get a few more zs before I just got up and went for a run, thankful, at least, that I wasn’t hungover. Patty again found us some coffee and croissants while we took turns showering and packed up.
We’re on the road now with Gabe at the wheel and Patty in back, somewhere between Toronto and Kingston, on the way to Montreal. It’s a fairly boring 6 hour drive that will hopefully end at Primitive Records where I will find all the vinyl I was dreaming about when that shitty Styx song broke my slumber.