Concert Reviews

Scott Helman at CNE Bandshell

Photos by Katrina Lat

It’s that time of the year when everyone within the GTA gathers together to eat some weird foods, shop at overpriced markets and pretend to enjoy crappy carnival rides. That’s right it’s the one and only Canadian National Exhibition. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t mean to sound pessimistic here but the CNE is just one of those things that we all go to every single year just to find ourselves wondering why we paid $18 to wander around an elaborate carnival. Yet somehow it all becomes worth it if you go on a night like the evening of August 30th where the bandshell would be home to Toronto’s own, Scott Helman.

In the heat of the day when everybody was rushing around from food vendor to carnival line there was a dedicated and eager group of girls lining the stage. At around noon the first batch of teenagers arrived, a solid 8 hours before the show was set to start. It was obvious that it was going to be a good day at the EX. The show was kicked off by Tyler Shaw, fresh off tour with Selena Gomez he took to the stage. He is the type of young heartthrob pop that you would expect to emerge from the depths of youtube. While watching him I couldn’t help but be reminded of another fresh faced Toronto sensation, Shawn Mendes. From the boyish good looks, pop melodies, and hordes of teenage fans they are all too similar. So indeed Tyler is clearly very talented I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve heard it all before. Yet despite any of my criticisms you can’t deny that the crowd loved him in the way that a group of teenage girls will love any cute boy with a guitar.

As the sun set, the night cooled, and the crowd got larger it was finally time for Scott Helman to take to the stage and believe me when I say the crowd couldn’t be more excited. Just by glancing at the stage the crowd could easily tell that they were in for a treat. With an orchestra, full band, and elaborate lighting this wasn’t going to be your run of the mill boy with a guitar show. The show was kicked off with Tikka, an electric hit off of his EP, Augusta. Which in all honesty was the perfect way to start the show with a bang of energy from the start. Throughout the evening he played a mix of old and new songs, and even threw in a couple covers. The truly amazing thing about this show was just how unlike the songs sounded like the recorded version. Trust me I mean this in the best way possible. He added layers upon layers of sounds onto his songs with the orchestra and full band making it feel like you were hearing every song for the first time.

Of course his more well known songs such as ‘The Lion’, ‘That Sweater’ and ‘Bungalow’ drew the greatest reactions from the crowd. Throughout the entire park echos of the songs being sang by the crowd could be heard and Helman basked in the true beauty of all of it. Several times during the show he would point his mic to the crowd and they would sing the songs for him. The thing that was the most wonderful about this was that it wasn’t just choruses of his most popular songs that the crowd was singing back it was everything. From the verses to the bridges of absolutely every song. It’s an incredibly rare thing to see a crowd that has such strong dedication to an artist who has only released one EP with a total of 7 songs on it.

Although it turns out that the greatest treat of the night ended up being the couple of new songs that Helman sang for the crowd. He gave us a nice idea of what we can expect with his future album with new songs like ‘21 Days’ and ‘Housekey’. While listening to the new stuff live the fangirl inside of me got really excited to see what else Helman has in store for the future. Of course the covers were another treat for the crowd including a Bob Marley cover that was dedicated to a late friend. While watching Helman perform you couldn’t help but notice the genuine amount of love and gratitude that he possessed for the fans in the crowd. Thanking them time and time again and always making sure that they knew how much they mean to him. It is always a wonderful thing being in a crowd and feeling that kind of connection with the artist on stage.

So I can’t help but admit that I was in complete awe with the show that Helman put on, you could easily tell how he poured his heart and soul into every tiny detail. It really was a treat to be able to watch the smiley young man on stage live out his dreams and realize that you are part of it all. I personally can’t wait to see what he has in store for the future.

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Long suffering student by day. Music writer by night.