It was somewhere close to 8pm. The line had already started creeping around the corner of the building. Snow started coming down, a novelty to me as I’m a native Floridian. People sliding by asking if we had tickets to spare and two old dudes holding a “Tickets Available” sign missing them by minutes. The hum of impatient and confused fans. How do you pronounce Nils Frahm? Is the “s” silent? Why aren’t they letting us in? Did you see that video of those grandmas getting stoned on YouTube?
8:10pm. One of the Adelaide Hall employees started to make her rounds, announcing that doors would be pushed to 9 as the bands had been experiencing some technical difficulties. Or maybe it was the venue. Either way, stuck we were. At least, I was. Some people decided to flock to that cowboy bar next door where their bar stools are saddles. I’d like to see a idle-aged overweight man order an Old Fashioned (neat) whilst mounted on a saddle. I digress, but that’d make my day.
Alright, it’s business time. Doors opened at 9 as promised and I managed to tuck myself into a corner at the front of the stage. Excellent. Dawn of Midi was opening for Nils and I had no idea what I was in for. I mean, I saw an upright bass resting against a Steinway piano so I knew I was safe.
As soon as they took the stage, I immediately started thinking of what kind of acronym I could preface this entire review with. Something along the lines NSFW except replacing the W with C for cool kids? Oh god, see, failing. Let me try this again: Dawn of Midi is unequivocally… nerd music. I will even venture to say, deliciously inaccessible.
Looking around the room, I noticed two types of people. There were the kids bobbing their heads on the 1 and 3 beat, the same way you could bounce to any traditional song you’d hear on the radio while stuck on the Gardiner. In other words, you’re able to follow it. Bobs turned to neck stumbles until they eventually gave up altogether. Then there were the theory kids, eyes fixed on the drummer layering a swinging 3/4 kick under a ghosted snare/hi hat combo that was in 4/4. Synchopated cherubic sadness. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just know that it was fucking magic. Magic happened in Toronto and you missed it.
Let’s get even more obscure here. These guys sound like American Football decided to get dancy. Or Martin Dosh decided to get angry. Or Rick Moranis was able to shrink the band, ship them to Japan, and have Yamaha force them to live inside all of the Tenori-ons. If you get any of these references, then you will fully appreciate Dawn of Midi because again, it’s a getting it kinda band. And even if you don’t, feel free to fail at bobbing your head because the music is still pretty.
Are you still alive? I hope so, because it’s about to get even more magical.
Did I already mention that this was a sold out show? The venue was absolutely packed. Kind of cool to be a performer in that venue because you’re literally encased by your fans from all angles. A warm people box of love.
Nils Frahm. I can’t. I can’t even.
He took the stage, did an appreciative 360, hands pressed together in thanks for having us wait out in the cold for a chance to hear him. He kicks off a shoe. He wastes no time. He slams the Rhodes, tweaks the Juno, thumps the organ bass pedals. And after completing the first song, Nils invites us to join him on the stage.
I’m probably about 2 feet away from him. I can see every bead of sweat and every line in every expression of his face. I contemplated playing footsies with him but I thought that’d kill the vibe. Also, restraining orders (Nils, if you’re reading this, I’m single and I’d really like to introduce you to my cats!!!).
His performance was nothing short of intimate. Everything was so still when it wasn’t beautifully epic. Everyone so quiet. I’m taken to some place where I’m completely removed from my earthly existence. Every strike of every key is a memory.
I hear Ólafur Arnalds and Apparat having a conversation.
I see the back of a lover as they turn to walk away.
I feel all of the seasons on my skin.
I really don’t feel like I can put this experience into words. Magic happened in Toronto and hopefully you were there too.