What happens when three amazing bands from Ontario are on tour together and get to play Alix Goolden Hall? Something magical. That’s what Tokyo Police Club, Born Ruffians, and The Elwins created one early October night this fall.
Alix Goolden Hall is one of Rocktographers’ favourite places to see a concert. Let’s put an emphasis on the “seeing” part. Alix Goolden Hall — or Ali G as some of the hip kids call — it is a stunner of a venue. With a giant pipe organ as a backdrop, fantastic acoustics, pew seating, stained glass windows, and intricate craftsmanship, the former church sanctuary always feels like another member of the band.
Now and then, you might hear a Rocktographer or two grumble about Alix Goolden Hall, but that’s strictly about shooting in it. There’s the Rocktog Shuffle, where all of the concert photographers all crouch down in front of the two foot stage and shuffle across the floor on their bums (or do those secret-agent rolls) to get their shots.
It’s often very dark and the bands are poorly lit, but it’s shows with younger crowds that make it a real challenge. Generally, Ali G is a sitting- or standing-at-your-seat affair. It’s not enforced, but it is encouraged. You don’t want people getting too rowdy in an old church. When there’s a younger crowd, that tends to get thrown out the beautiful 126-year-old window, and they rush the stage. This, coupled with some lighting issues, and you have a bunch of not-so-happy Rocktographers.
These crowds tend to have a little bit of animosity towards concert photographers too. They want to take selfies with their phones, snap chats to their friends, and another outdated reference. We are in their way. We know people pay good money to see good concerts, but don’t they understand we’re just doing our job? We’ll be out in three songs or less.
Hey kids! Get off our lawn… I mean photo pit!
It had been nineteen days since Newmarket ON’s The Elwins‘ stellar performance at the Rifftop Tent during Rifflandia. Strangely, it felt like it had been months since the last time they played here. It was good to have them back.
The band came out swinging, blasting into their latest dancey pop/rock single Show Me How To Move. Before the song was done, the front of stage had been flooded by a gaggle of teens that would spend the rest of the evening dancing inches from the stage.
While lead-singer Matthew Sweeney crooned into the microphone and stole hearts with the teenage girls, it was the moustachioed Feurd and bassist Frankie Figliomeni who caught our attention. They bounced off each other and the rest of the stage, while playing all the hits off their 2015 record Play For Keeps.
There was an elephant in the room all evening. It was inescapable. Everywhere you turned, there was someone decked out in Toronto Blue Jays gear. Tonight was the night. If the Jays didn’t beat the Baltimore Orioles, they wouldn’t make it into the playoffs. This was their last chance in, and all three the bands had vested interest in their hometown team making it. So much so that they set up a stream of the game in their green room to watch.
It was halfway through the Born Ruffians et when someone in the crowd shouted “Jays Win!” The band wasn’t sure if it was a really excited fan of that song or if it was someone yelling about the game. It turns out that Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th securing the win and playoff spot for Toronto . . . only slightly overshadowing Born Ruffians’ set.
Rounding out the stacked triple bill was headliners Tokyo Police Club. The prolific Canadian indie rock band has been kicking around the can for the last decade, making several critically-acclaimed albums, all of which are filled to the brim with hit singles that made up the night’s set, as well as some cuts off their latest EPs Melon Collie and the Infinite Radness: Parts One and Two.
Just over the halfway mark of the band’s set they launched into their eight and a half minute epic Argentina (Parts I, II, III) from their 2014 album Forcefield. The crowd erupted with the band throughout and even the balcony was full of people dancing and singing along, which is a rare feat in Victoria.
It’s also rare that you get to see three bands who could easily headline a big concert like this all playing on the same bill that isn’t a music festival. Nights like this don’t come around that often, but when it does, it’s worth getting excited about. Plus the Jays made the playoffs. We’ll mark this one down as a win.