This past week marked INDIE Week Canada, which took place in small and bigger music venues across Toronto. Every music venue was packed with an amazing array of indie talent. The highlight of indie week, though, was Australian indie-rock band Boy and Bear.
Boy & Bear released their debut album, Moonfire, in 2011 to critical acclaim. Unfortunately their debut album was not actually released in Canada. Thankfully though, in this digital age it allowed for a Canadian fan following to start forming. In 2013 they released a second album, Harlequin Dream, which I have recently fell in love with. By chance I heard their single “Southern Sun” playing this summer on the my favourite Vancouver radio station, 102.7 The Peak fm. I couldn’t wait to look it up on the playlist and afraid I would remember the exact time it played, I quickly shazzamed it. Since then I have fallen in love with each and every track on both of their albums. So it was with high hopes I ventured to another Toronto venue totally new to me, The Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
Smaller than Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theater but bigger than the Vogue, Toronto’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre is a beautiful building with a beautiful entranceway and lovely lounge bar in the lobby. As is habit, I made my way immediately to the merch table. If I can, I like to buy my vinyl directly from the artist at shows. Unfortunately there was no vinyl to be had so I will have to order it online. Lost, I attempted to find my way to my seat and in the end had the usher point me in the direction of my seat.
I don’t usually like seated shows; they often seem to suck some of the energy and enthusiasm out of a show. Luckily, I was so excited to see Boy & Bear live that I was able to put those negative thoughts mostly to the back of my mind, which was easy to do once they took to the stage. Their music is catchy, fun and best of all- the perfect mix between pop, rock and indie that just makes you want to dance. I was definitely “dancing” as best I could while seated and after a quick scan of the fans to my left and right, I was assured that I was not the only one dancing in my seat – they were most definitely doing the same. Thankfully, some fans with some lowered inhibitions dared to start a mini standing dance party in the aisle in front of the stage. That, as it always does, gave way to a rush of fans to the front of the stage and eventually the entire theatre singing along and dancing. Making the moment feel extra special, the band told us that it was the first time everyone at a seated show had stood for them thus far- Go Toronto music fans! Near the end of the show, they let us know that they do not do encores- something that both surprised and impressed me. Over the years I have heard many artists reflect on and acknowledge how disingenuous encores are today- they are planned and written on a set list and often expected. Where the fans really want it or not, the lights stay dimmed, the house music stays off and everyone waits while the band exits and re-enters. While I could have easily stayed and enjoyed hours more of Boy & Bear, I do appreciate the fact that they’ve made a conscious decision not to play encores when they perform. Echoing what other reviewers have said before me, Boy & Bear delivers a unique, catchy sound that has the gripping undertones of a mid-70s Fleetwood Mac album. If you have never listened to them before, I suggest giving the following five tracks a listen:
1. Southern Sun 2. Bridges 3. Old Town Blues 4. My Only One 5. Feeding Line