Toronto became a British invasion on August 1st at the Sherbourne Common. Located just at the Queens Quay and Lower Sherbourne, it’s now home to the new outdoor venue. Torontonians were treated with James Bay and George Ezra as the first guests to play.
As many may know, the first weekend of August each summer is pretty busy in Toronto. If you’re not attending Drake’s OVO, you may be at Osheaga in Montreal, or even at Caribana. It’s safe to say there was a lot happening in the GTA when James Bay hit the stage at Sherbourne Common.
Warming up the crowd was UK band Coasts. With their upbeat pop set, they brought a lot of energy to the stage. For a band that it seemed like no one in the crowd knew, they certainly kept everyone’s attention. Dubbing the show a “British invasion” since all three acts is from overseas.
It came as a surprise that George Ezra was second to me. He broke our land first with his hit song “Budapest”. We last saw Ezra opening up for Sam Smith back in January of this year. It was cleared he gained a following since, having the whole crowd sing along. The set up of the stage included suitcases placed around, with a stack of them next to George, accompanied by a hot tea for the 22 year old.
George told stories throughout the night, how he never actually made it to Budapest when he travelled through Europe, due to a hangover. He brought effortlessness to his playing. While girls screamed out “We love you George!” and held up signs that had their Twitter handles on them. The crowd, mixed with young girls and their parents, watched as he played through his set, as I was left confused as to why he wasn’t closing the night.
As 9:30p.m. came, James Bay took the stage, opening up with “Collide” off his debut album Chaos and Calm. Bay has followed in the steps of Jessie J, Sam Smith, and Adele for Brit Awards for Critics Choice, having taking the crowd this year. Since then, he’s been touring nonstop, releasing music, and playing every festival it seems. Having just hopped off stage at Lollapalooza, came straight our city and once done here, headed to Oshega. He’s been busy!
“There’s a lot of you out there. A sea of people!” he said while pointing to the back of venue. About 4,000 were there. The venue sold out. Throughout his set, he kept reminding the crowd it was just “you and me, and me and you here tonight”. For the mostly all girl audience, he has a way of making them feel like he’s just there to perform for solely them.
As the crowd sang along, James would take a set back from the microphone to let them finish out the song. In a short period of time, he’s come very far. Having only been here just in May, selling out the MOD Club. When I spoke to him then, I said that when he came back, he was going to need a bigger venue. Here he was, with 4,000 people.
During his encore, he surprised the crowd with a cover of Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You”. Which brought a guitar solo complimented the night well.
As I walked out of Sherbourne Common’s first live show, I heard more than once how George was good, but James killed it. It’s safe to say both artists aren’t slowing down anytime soon.