A friend of mine made a comment a little while back that by going to all these shows and documenting them I’m basically “scribing the city’s history”, and it’s an idea I haven’t really been able to shake. I spend so much time looking forward to the next shoot that I don’t really take a look back at my portfolio and all of the historic events I’ve been blessed enough to be present for. So with the upcoming Red Bull Sound Select 3 Days in Toronto mini fest next weekend, which consists of 3 nights of stacked homegrown talent at various epic venues across the city, I found myself looking back at the times I’ve seen these artists before and thought it would be fun to take a little trip down memory lane with y’all because Toronto is ON one right now and we should all be excited about it.
Admittedly I wasn’t familiar with Chris LaRocca before heading to a CMW showcase at this year’s festival headlined by San Antonio’s Xavier Omar. It wasn’t even on my list to cover the openers this night but, as I’ve preached before whether you want to hear it or not, I will never miss an opener if I can help it for reasons exactly like this. Since that show in April, Chris has released an EP, headlined his own show at The Drake, and now will be performing at 3 Days with hometown heroes Majid Jordan. It’s safe to say this guy is headed somewhere fast and I’m v here for it.
A L L I E
Sadly I only have one photo to show for this crazy talented songstress due to the premature death of my external hard drive last year (RIP), but I’ve spent the last couple of years making sure I don’t miss her shows when I can help it. A l l i e is not only an amazing performer in the sense that she sounds like butter live, but her audience interaction and energy levels are always so uplifting it’s impossible to not get completely enveloped in her sets. Really looking forward to seeing her post debut album drop this weekend.
These guys were actually one of the first artists I attempted (key word attempted) to photograph a couple years back when they played Nathan Phillips Square for the PanAm Games. Sadly/thankfully, those photos have since been conveniently misplaced, so these shots from Time Festival in 2015 and more recently The Meadows this past September will have to do. Sometimes I get a little depressed that I picked up photography later than I would have liked (so ideally at, like, age 2), and a show that stands out as one I always wish I had been able to capture was BADBADNOTGOOD’s night at The Opera House with Ghostface Killah in Feb of 2015. If you were there, you know why. That is not a night this city will forget.
CHARLOTTE DAY WILSON
Where to start here. This is another artist that I didn’t have the pleasure of discovering prior to seeing them live, and when I did it was at one of the most important shows to me that I’ve covered. This was back in October 2015 at a Red Bull Sound Select show with River Tiber and Tennyson. Not only was it my first time seeing her live, but it was everyone else’s too. Looking back at the trajectory of her career these last two years I take a lot of pride in knowing I was able to capture this historic night, just the same in that I was able to cover her first night of 2 sold out Mod Club shows at CMW this year. Now getting to see her at Massey Hall this Friday, which will also be my first opportunity to shoot at my favourite venue, is pretty bloody incredible.
Still to this day “Let You Go” is one of my favourite tracks, and I remember so distinctly when he performed it acoustically that first night at Adelaide Hall. These guys manage to bring the most amazing energy into the room when they perform, it’s like instant zen. I can only imagine what that’s gonna be like in combination with BBNG at Massey Hall this weekend but I’m READY.
First off, RIP Tattoo. That venue is where I was forced to learn how to throw bows to clear room for me to be able to shoot. It’s a lesson I didn’t necessarily want to learn, but there was really no choice – the turn ups I experienced in the confines of these walls were unlike anything else. I’m pretty sure everyone remembers that one Father show where approx. 25% of the audience (me included) ended up on stage. Never a dull moment. That stood for this show with CMDWN almost two years ago, where I distinctly remember having to evacuate the crowd to get to the back when they surprised us with Jazz after barely being able to stand my ground when they brought out Ramriddlz.
I think I can honestly say I have never seen an artist with energy like Cuzzi. I’ve probably seen him at least 10 times by this point, and I will continue to choose to see him any time I get the chance (festivals with overlapping performances included). Tbh I’m kind of concerned whether the structural integrity of The Phoenix is going to be able to support this guy in combination with the rest of the lineup on Saturday but I guess we’ll find out soon enough. Performance abilities aside, you know those albums or songs you hear for the first time and years down the line, for some reason, remember every single detail about where you were, what you were wearing, what you were doing, etc when you were listening for that first time? That is “Hotel Paranoia” for me. I was in Montreal, at an air bnb, wearing my fav flannel and sipping a coffee on a freezing cold February first morning. So ya, you could say I’m kind of looking forward to him hosting this 3 Days show at The Phoenix on Saturday.
I left this guy for last because through this little exercise I realized he’s been pretty significant in my own growth as a photographer, he’s been the subject of a couple milestones for me. First and foremost, he was actually the first artist I ever shot at my first festival. I still remember walking into Time Festival that day SO clearly. Navigating the stage and media pit probably looking like a lost puppy way out of her comfort zone not sure what she’s even really doing. I like to think I’ve grown a little more profesh in the festival environment these days but it still scares the shit out of me sometimes – almost dropped my camera a handful of times in the pit shaking from nerves for one of my idols, J. Cole, at last year’s Meadows festival. Still shocked any of those shots turned out tbh, but I digress. The second milestone for me that Tory Lanez was the subject of was my first time shooting on film. Sometimes when you don’t get media accreditation you need to work with what you can get into the festival grounds with, and for me at last year’s WayHome festival that was a film camera. They actually turned out to be some of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken for that reason. Turned those lemons into lemonade.
Ok! So, you’ll notice some of the artists slated to play 3 Days in Toronto aren’t on here. Majid Jordan, Nino Brown, Dre Ngozi, Killy, and Killa Kels – I’m comin for all y’all. Real hot.