Photographs by Jess Laforet.
Fresh off of their third album release, British Columbia-based band Yukon Blonde kicked off what was an iconic evening at Massey Hall in Toronto.
There is nothing more respectable than an opener who can successfully get an entire seated venue on their feet and dancing. I can’t imagine opening for the beloved Newfoundland band Hey Rosetta! being a simple job, but Yukon Blonde did it with undeniable ease.
They opened the show with ‘Confused’, and treated the crowd to a guest appearance from Vancouver-based singer-songwriter, Hannah Georgas. Hannah joined her former roommate, and lead singer of Yukon Blonde for a performance of their radio hit ‘Saturday Night’. The rest of their set was filled with incredible harmonies, a clapping lesson from guitarist Brandon Scott, and a sing-a-long of ‘Stairway’.
The last time I saw Hey Rosetta!, they were dancing on stage with Stars to quirky self-taught choreography. On Friday, a completely different Hey Rosetta! took the stage. There were still smiles exchanged between band members and a genuine energy that radiated out into the crowd, but there was a clear sense of growth in their presence.
There’s something magical about seeing a Canadian band play to a sold out show at Massey Hall for the first time. Their set took the crowd on a journey through their ten years as a band, including fan favourites ‘Red Heart’ and ‘Soft Offering (For The Oft Suffering)’.
Even on such an important night for the group, they still tied their success back to their humble beginnings. Lead singer Tim Baker spoke about the major influence that the late Newfoundland folk singer Ron Hynes had on them as musicians and as individuals. In honour of his life and contribution to Canadian music, the band played a heartfelt version of their song ‘Alcatraz’.
In a time where show-goers tend to watch the performing artist through their phones, it was unique to see an almost screen-less Massey Hall. This was not only an indication of a crowd that truly appreciates live music, but it signified the unique ability of both bands to demand the complete attention of a crowd.
On Friday night, the crowd and bands seemed to feel equally as privileged to be there for the momentous occasion. The two groups closed off the night by playing their political collaboration ‘Land You Love’, followed by a sing-a-long of ‘Stand by Me’.
A well-deserved thank you was delivered with a standing ovation, cheers echoing through Massey Hall even minutes after the musicians were gone from the stage. The show served as an appropriate reminder of what going to concerts should be about; enjoying the music in the moment.