Third Eye Blind: Summer Gods Tour

Third Eye Blind and Silversun Pickups
When: June 28, 2017
Where: Echo Beach – Toronto, ON
Seats: General Admission

THE COMPANY

I went to this one with concert-buddy Marco, and honestly it was probably the most chill show I’ve been to in a long time. Neither of us were like “super fans” of Third Eye Blind – only knowing a handful of songs each; we were just happy to spend a night on the beach and get to listen to some tunes.

THE PERFORMANCE

When Third Eye Blind came out, the crowd went nuts. The beginning of their set was pretty slow, and I was wondering when it was going to pick up. That’s when they announced they’d be playing their debut album front to back, and the show kicked into gear. Even the songs I wasn’t familiar with made me want to dance. But of course, I think everyone was expecting those mega-nostalgic hits to be the highlights of the show, and the band delivered! From the very first chord of “Semi-Charmed Life”, “Jumper”, “Never Let You Go”, and “How It’s Gonna Be”, the entire audience cheered and began screaming the lyrics along. Overall, the show was pretty upbeat and fun, but my mood was kind of mellow.

THE AUDIENCE

I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this audience, honestly. But the crowd was made up of a lot of people in their 20s and 30s who were ready for a night of 90s nostalgia. It was kind of awesome to see hundreds of drunk people screaming along to “Jumper” like their lives depended on it.

COMPLETE SETLIST:

  1. Weightless
  2. Company of Strangers
  3. Horror Show ♥
  4. Wounded
  5. Queen of Daydreams
  6. Shipboard Cook
  7. Losing a Whole Year ♥
  8. Narcolepsy ♥
  9. Semi-Charmed Life ♥
  10. Jumper ♥
  11. How It’s Gonna Be ♥
  12. Thanks a Lot
  13. Burning Man
  14. Good for You
  15. London ♥
  16. I Want You
  17. The Background
  18. Motorcycle Drive By ♥

Encore:
19. Never Let You Go ♥
20. God of Wine

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Train: Play That Song Tour

Train with O.A.R and Natasha Bedingfield
When: June 21, 2017
Where: Budweiser Stage – Toronto, ON
Seats: General Admission – Lawn

THE COMPANY

When these tickets dropped on Groupon for $15, I knew I had to snatch them up! And I asked one of my besties, Nikki, to come along – to which she obviously said yes, because why would someone not say yes to $15 concert tickets? Who knows.

And then this opportunity got even more awesome when we got to the venue and apparently the show didn’t sell out – which, okay, I guess isn’t great for them – but it was great for us, because they were upgrading people who had lawn seats! So we ended up in the 300-section instead of two sections back, sitting on the grass. So that was nifty.

THE PERFORMANCE

It wasn’t until a few days before the concert that I realized how many Train songs I knew. Obviously, Drops of Jupiter. But I couldn’t believe how many hits they had. And I recognized even more of them at the show. Train would launch into the next song, and I’d start singing along; something in the back of my mind remembered lyrics to Meet Virginia from years ago. But the band was incredible and so high energy the whole time.

I particularly liked the fact that Train brought out the two opening acts (Natasha Bedingfield and O.A.R) at separate points during their set to do a song collaboratively. A lot of the time, people aren’t there to see the opening acts, so it was cool to see how supportive and excited the audience was to see them back again to perform with the headliner.

Some favourites are marked in the setlist below, but I really enjoyed getting to hear Drive By, Hey Soul Sister, and their cover of Queen/Bowie’s “Under Pressure” was absolutely fantastic.

THE AUDIENCE

The audience may not have been as high-energy as the band on stage, but they were definitely excited to be at this show. I always find it interesting to see the crowds at shows and see who is a fan of the band. I’m into some pretty diverse stuff and I don’t typically enter any “fan communities”, so I’m honestly not too aware of what kinds of people to expect at certain concerts. And this one was very up in the air for me. But I thought it was cool to see the wide range of people at this one – people of literally all ages could be seen around the venue, and everyone was up dancing.

$15 tickets on Groupon for a night like that? Yeah, I’d definitely do it again.

COMPLETE SETLIST:

  1. Drink Up
  2. 50 Ways to Say Goodbye
  3. If It’s Love
  4. Angel in Blue Jeans
  5. Get to Me
  6. Save Me, San Francisco ♥
  7. Calling All Angels ♥
  8. Bruises (with Natasha Bedingfield) ♥
  9. Meet Virginia ♥
  10. Drive By ♥
  11. Marry Me
  12. You Better Believe
  13. You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon cover – with O.A.R)
  14. Working Girl
  15. Mermaid/Shape of You/Cheap Thrills/Treat You Better/Lost and Found ♥
  16. Hey, Soul Sister ♥
  17. Play That Song ♥

Encore:
18. Under Pressure (Queen/Bowie cover) ♥
19. Drops of Jupiter ♥

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Bon Jovi: This House is Not for Sale Tour

Bon Jovi w/ Cannons
When: April 11, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
Seats: Lower level, Row 25 – Rear

THE COMPANY

This was the first concert where Jacob accompanied me, and it was really exciting – mostly because I’m a pretty quiet person, but when it comes to concerts, I’m loud and I sing and dance the whole time. And it’s kind of scary to go to a show with someone who may or may not clap along or cheer at the end of a song. But we had a great time dancing together!

It was also particularly awesome because we got these tickets off of Groupon, so they were $20 each. So it was super last minute, but such a great night.

THE PERFORMANCE

I was kind of worried, because our discount tickets put us sort of behind the stage, but honestly the view was incredible. And when Bon Jovi hit the stage, everyone was on their feet, dancing and cheering the whole night. I was excited to hear a handful of my favourite songs (“Shot Through the Heart” – heyyyooo) but I didn’t realize how many other songs I recognized!

I think what I loved the most was that JBJ was really open to creating an experience for all types of fans. At one point, he began explaining the meaning behind the band’s newer songs and what they meant to them before beginning each one. Then he announced, “This is the last new one – the rest are hits from here on out.” When a band has so many hits, it must be hard to find a happy medium when touring a new album. But I think they did a great job at introducing This House is Not For Sale to an audience that was likely hoping for hits or their older tunes.

THE AUDIENCE

The audience at this show was incredible. Sitting at a “behind the stage” angle actually gave me a new appreciation for shows, because it allowed me to see the audience from the perspective of the band on stage. I’d look out and see the lights illuminating the faces in the crowd, and I could see how much fun they were having singing the lyrics along with the band. It was so cool. And of course, my favourite part of any show – when the audience pulls out their lights and makes the ACC look like the night sky – was just amplified because of all the excitement and my surprisingly amazing seats.

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COMPLETE SETLIST:

  1. This House is Not for Sale ♥
  2. Knockout
  3. You Give Love a Bad Name ♥
  4. Lost Highway
  5. Who Lot of Leavin’ ♥
  6. Roller Coaster ♥
  7. We Weren’t Born to Follow
  8. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
  9. We Got It Goin’ On ♥
  10. Who Says You Can’t Go Home ♥
  11. It’s My Life ♥
  12. We Don’t Run
  13. God Bless This Mess ♥
  14. Scars on This Guitar ♥
  15. New Year’s Day
  16. Lay Your Hands on Me ♥
  17. Born to Be My Baby
  18. Have a Nice Day ♥
  19. Bad Medicine ♥
  20. Keep the Faith

Encore:
21. Always ♥
22. Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen from Mars
23. Wanted Dead or Alive ♥
24. Livin’ on a Prayer ♥

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The Zolas @ The Opera House

The Zolas
When: March 16, 2017
Where: The Opera House – Toronto, ON
Seats: General Admission – Floor

THE COMPANY

This show was such a last minute thing. My friend Marco messaged and asked if I wanted to go with him to a concert. And I’m always up for a concert. Even if I don’t know the band – as was with this case – I know Marco and I have pretty similar taste in music, so I trust him. I listened to some Zolas before heading out, and already had a few favourite songs in mind as we headed to The Opera House.

THE PERFORMANCE

The show was fantastic! The audience was so hyped when The Zolas took the stage, and the band was able to keep the excitement rolling their entire set. There was a good mix of upbeat songs that I could bop along to, and some slower, more mellow tunes, which I always enjoy. And even during the slower songs, I was really enjoying watching the band rock out. There was never a dull moment.

I thought it was especially cool that during their last song, the lead singer came into the crowd and performed from the centre of the floor. Everyone circled around and shone their cell phone lights on him, lighting the venue. It was a really cool experience!

Side note: It’s been a month and I still frequently get “Ancient Mars” stuck in my head.

THE AUDIENCE

Shows are just significantly more enjoyable when they’re general admission shows, honestly. I don’t care if I don’t know the band – if I’m standing in a general admission area, I feel like I’m part of the crowd. Part of the show. Part of an experience. Not just watching – but a part. And that’s how I felt this entire show.

The Zolas really seemed to appreciate the fact that they filled The Opera House with so many enthusiastic fans, and you know what – they gained another one that night. I’d happily buy a ticket to see them in Toronto again.

COMPLETE SETLIST:

  1. In Heaven
  2. Molotov Girls ♥
  3. Get Dark ♥
  4. Fell In Love with New York ♥
  5. Ancient Mars ♥
  6. Cultured Man
  7. You’re Too Cool
  8. Freida on the Mountain ♥
  9. This Changes Everything
  10. Marlaina Kamikaze
  11. Cab Driver
  12. Strange Girl ♥
  13. CV Dazzle
  14. Swooner ♥

Encore:
15. Invisible ♥
16. Observatory
17. Escape Artist ♥

Simple Plan: Take One For the Team Tour

Simple Plan w/ Set It Off & Plain White Ts
When: March 14, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
Seats: Lower level, Row 4

THE COMPANY

This show was originally supposed to take place on Nov. 18th of 2016, but had to be pushed back. So I originally got the tickets because Nov. 18th is my bestie’s birthday, and Simple Plan is our thing.

But attending the concert a few months later was still super special. There’s no one I’d rather scream and dance with to songs like “I’d Do Anything” and “I’m Just a Kid”.

THE PERFORMANCE

First I have to talk about the openers. I’ve never heard of the band Set It Off before, but they were pretty entertaining. But when I saw that Plain White T’s would be there, the 14-year-old inside me wept. Their performance was so down to earth and honest. And of course, they ended with “Hey There, Delilah”, which was nothing short of nostalgic.

Then Simple Plan took the stage, and I got very excited. We had great seats, and Simple Plan never disappoints! Personally, I’m a bigger fan of their first couple of albums, so when they launched into upbeat angsty teen songs like “Jump” or “Shut Up”, I couldn’t NOT sing along. But even the songs I wasn’t as familiar with, I could still rock out to. They played quite a few slower tunes, but some of the best SP songs are better listened to acoustically (lookin’ at you, “Welcome to My Life” and “Perfect”), so I had no problem swaying with bestie and feeling the feels. It was a great night.

THE AUDIENCE

The thing I love about Simple Plan is that their audience is so diverse, especially with regards to age. There were young girls there rocking Take One for the Team t-shirts. There were men and women in their 20s who clearly grew up with this band and wanted to show their support. And there were husbands and wives in their later years who came out to enjoy the show. I just love how a band can appeal to such a wide fanbase.

Also, I don’t know if this was because the show got postponed, or because there were hazardous road conditions due to a snow storm, but the show just didn’t sell out. The people who were there were having a great time, but it was hard not to notice that half the floor looked empty, and lots of the seats, too. Honestly, I feel like it would have been better to have the show in a slightly more intimate venue, because to me, that’s what their music is anyway – something personal. Their lyrics aren’t just lyrics I sing and dance to – they’re lyrics I relate to, and feel.

COMPLETE SETLIST:

  1. Opinion Overload
  2. Jet Lag
  3. Jump (with excerpts of “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas)
  4. I’d Do Anything ♥
  5. Boom
  6. Welcome to My Life ♥
  7. Addicted ♥
  8. Your Love is a Lie
  9. Perfectly Perfect
  10. I Don’t Wanna Go to Bed
  11. Uptown Funk/Can’t Feel My Face (Mark Ronson/The Weeknd covers)
  12. Can’t Keep My Hands Off You ♥
  13. Summer Paradise ♥
  14. Farewell
  15. Crazy
  16. I’m Just a Kid ♥

Encore:
17. Shut Up ♥
18. Perfect World
19. This Song Saved My Life
20. Perfect ♥

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Toronto Light Festival 2017

img_4608This long weekend, I headed downtown Toronto with my best friend and my sister to see the first Toronto Light Festival at the Distillery District to enjoy some beautiful art installments.

We got there at the perfect time, because the sun was just starting to go down. So we took a walk around and got a look at what the festival had to offer, while the sun was still up, and then stopped to grab a hot chocolate (which was actually delicious and totally worth the sort-of-ridiculous Distillery District pricing).  img_4599By the time we headed back to where we’d started our round, the sun had fully set and we were ready to see the art installments the way they were meant to be seen.

In hindsight, it probably wasn’t too smart to go on a weekend – the amount of people trying to file through the streets of the Distillery District was crazy. It was similar to the crowds at the Christmas Market in December. But people lined up decently to see the light pieces and it wasn’t as claustrophobic as I initially thought it would be.

img_4601The light installments themselves were incredible. They were beautiful and inspired art pieces, and I took my time enjoying them.
A couple of my favourites were the clearly ironic neon sign stating that “Nothing is so important that it needs to be made in six foot neon” (six-foot, no?), and the gorgeous angel pieces (pictured at the bottom of this post).

It was really just nice to walk around outside in the unseasonable warmth with a couple of my favourite people, enjoying the weather and taking in some of the inspiring art and culture in our city.

The TO Light Festival runs until March 12, so check it out if you have the chance!

Have you visited the TO Light Festival? What was your favourite installment?

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Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Getaway Tour

I’ve got quite the list of 2017 concerts building up, so I’ve decided I’m going to write about them! And to me, concerts are about three things, so I’m going to focus on each of these aspects in my reviews: who I went with and the time we had, the band’s performance, and the feel of the audience.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway Tour
When: February 4, 2017
Where: Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
Seats: Balcony level, Row 13

The Company

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So I went to see the Chili Peppers with my dad. He’s a huge fan, and after struggling to get my hand on a pair of tickets in the presale, I knew he would probably appreciate them the most. And he did. We had a great time together! Even though we way up in the balcony of the Air Canada Centre, we had a great view of the stage and rocked out to the awesome show.

The Performance

Jack Irons and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue were the opening acts for the Chili Peppers. Irons captivated the entire audience with his insane drum skills, and my dad and I left the show saying we wanted to buy a Trombone Shorty album – what a band! They had everyone on their feet dancing before the main act even came on.

But everyone was there for the Chili Peppers, and let me tell you, I don’t think anyone left disappointed. They were SO energetic and threw themselves into every song. There were moments between songs where the band just jammed for a bit, creating more of a build up than a lull, as they left the audience hanging on to hear the next hit. I was just incredibly happy to hear “By the Way” and “Snow”, and okay, I have had “Go Robot” stuck in my head since that night.

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And the show itself was so visually impressive. Even when they started playing a new song I didn’t know as well, the gorgeous light show that changed with every new tune was mesmerizing. The hanging lights did a wave and would dance over the audience in various colours and movements. I couldn’t look away.

The Audience

Like I said earlier: I had a hard time getting my hand on tickets in presale because they were selling like CRAZY. So you can imagine that everyone in the room was extremely stoked to be at the show. And they were. I have been at shows at the ACC where people in the balcony level stay seated and bop along to the band, and that upsets me because I enjoy dancing at shows. As soon as the Chili Peppers got on stage, everyone in the venue got to their feet and showed their enthusiasm.

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And it was great to hear the first few notes of “Give It Away”, or “Otherside”, and have the band almost get drowned out by the crowd of fans screaming the lyrics along. That’s probably my favourite moment at a show, and it happened a few times at this one.

It was probably one of my top 10 concerts, and if they ever come back, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to get more tickets.

Complete setlist:

  1. Intro Jam
  2. Around the World
  3. Otherside ♥
  4. Snow (Hey Oh) ♥
  5. Dark Necessities ♥
  6. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie ♥
  7. Right on Time
  8. Go Robot ♥
  9. Emit Remmus
  10. Sick Love
  11. I Like Dirt
  12. Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder cover)
  13. The Getaway
  14. Soul to Squeeze ♥
  15. By the Way ♥

Encore
16. Rock and Roll (Led Zeppelin – tease)
17. Goodbye Angels
18. Give It Away ♥

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Toronto Christmas Market 2016

I’ve never been to the Toronto Christmas Market before. And I live here. But this year, I’m trying to make Christmas about spending quality time with the people I love and not getting caught up in the stress of finding the perfect gifts, and honestly it’s just been so much better. So one of my besties, Nikki, suggested for our Christmas, we go to the Toronto Christmas Market. And my god, it’s so beautiful.

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The market is set up in the Distillery District, which is one of my favourite spots in the city. It’s so artsy and the architecture is so traditional – it’s the perfect place to set up a cozy Christmas scene and have it look like it’s a small town. There are tons of booths set up around the District, as well as food vendors, carnival rides, and of course, the giant Christmas tree. (You can sort of see my shadow, but that tree is gigantic!)

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It wouldn’t be a trip to the Distillery if you didn’t get your photo with the heart! There are a number of art installations that are always in the Distillery, and it’s sort of tradition to take your photo under the heart. But there are pretty pink Christmas trees in the background because of the Market setup!

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I don’t know what this says about me, but my favourite part of the entire market was the donuts. Uncle Betty’s diner had a booth selling various flavours of mini donuts, so we tried their maple bacon donuts. And let me just tell you – those are the best things I’ve ever eaten. The salty and sweet flavours worked perfectly together, and the donut itself was so fluffy that it just melted in your mouth. I would go back just for the donuts.

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It was pretty busy for a Wednesday night, though, and I can’t imagine how busy it is on weekends, or closer to Christmas. I’d say check it out on a weeknight, if possible. (Note: It runs until Dec. 22nd and is not open on Mondays).

Have you stopped by the Christmas Market this year? What were your favourite parts? Did you pick up any fun Christmas swag or try any fun dishes?

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The Lockhart: Toronto’s Harry Potter Bar

img_2380When I heard that there would be a “Harry Potter bar” opening up downtown Toronto, I knew I had to check this place out. The Lockhart (1479 Dundas Street W.) has been around for only about a year now, but it’s definitely made its mark.

I don’t live in the city, so I didn’t think this bar would be a place I frequent, but I’ve been there a handful of times, and it’s always a place I’ll return to.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: The Lockhart isn’t super Harry Potter-themed, but has the nuance of a Harry Potter feel. There are HP Funko Pops lining the shelves with their “Potions and Elixirs”, and if you take a walk down to the bathroom, you can see they encourage geeks like myself to contribute their HP graffiti to the chalkboard walls. But it isn’t over the top, screaming HARRY POTTER, and I love that about it. It’s still a place someone can chill with a friend and grab a drink. Which is the real reason I really go here – the food and drinksthumbnail_fullsizerender.

Take a flip through the “potions and elixirs” menu to find some great drinks named after some of my favourite nerdy characters. I’ve tried the ‘Gin Weasley‘, but the ‘Dr. Manhattan‘ is still on my to-drink list. As pictured to the left, my first drink at this stop was the Nom de Guerre (the purple drink, which includes cinnamon infused tequila, Port, Triple Sec, and ginger ale), which was honestly one of my favourites so far. And it was the only drink I needed that night.

img_3087Of course, it wouldn’t be a Harry Potter bar without Butter… er, Better Beer (Advocaat, butter washed cinnamon nutmeg infused tequila, house ginger beer, ginger ale, with a toasted marshmallow). And as seen in the photo below, one of my regular drinks is the Lockhart Caesar. I’m a fan of caesars, but they have to be done right, and I’ll come to The Lockhart forever if they continue to make their caesars this wonderfully thick and spicy.

I love that the bar puts extra effort into making these drinks as beautiful as they are delicious. Each drink comes in a mason jar or specialty vessel – the Nom de Guerre was served in a tall very Potter-like chalice, and the Better Beer looks like something out of Game of  Thrones. I can’t help but want to take a million photos of everything they serve and post to Instagram, because it’s all so gorgeous.

I’ve definitely sampled more from the drink menu than the food – mostly because a lot of their food has shallots or shrimp (two things I am allergic to) – but the dishes I have tried are so yummy. The photo below is of the Royal Toast. The whipped cheese is so light, and the tomatoes just make this an amazing side to whichever cocktail you choose. I’ve also had the Evanesco Chocolate (hot caramel poured onto chocolate shatter melts with vanilla sponge cake & berries underneath), which is to die for. I’m not huge into heavy, chocolaty desserts, so this was perfect.

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img_3092Besides their delicious menu, The Lockhart has regularly scheduled events to spice things up. Every Saturday and Sunday they hold brunch from 10:30-2:30pm, and every second Tuesday, the bar holds a Harry Potter trivia night!

It’s great if you want a night out with your fellow Potterheads, or you just want to catch up with an old friend over some delicious potions. This bar is such a creative space that is both down-to-earth and simply magical; I highly recommend checking out The Lockhart.

 

 

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Next to Normal – Play Review

As soon as I heard a show like Next to Normal existed, I knew I had to see it eventually. But of course, I would only be able to see it if it came to Toronto. Lucky for me, they put together a touring cast and one of the stops would in fact be a Toronto theatre. Anticipating my eventual attendance at this show, I refused to listen to any of the cast recording. I knew a couple of songs already and a main plot point, but I didn’t want to know anything else. I think knowing nothing going in made the show that much more emotional for me.

For those who aren’t like me and do need some sort of summary, Next to Normal tells the story of the Goodman family. Within the first number, we learn the dynamics of this family: Gabe is the less-than-perfect son who Diana, the less-than-stable mother looks to as though he is the perfect child, Natalie is the daughter that struggles for perfection just to be noticed, and Dan is the father and husband who uses all of his energy to hold them all together. Diana has to go to multiple psychiatrists to keep herself from going over the edge and Natalie, who has already been long pushed over this edge, seeks companionship in her friend, Henry. Despite how hard this family tries to be normal, maybe something next to normal will have to be enough.

I have never seen a musical quite like Next to Normal before. The characters seemed to real and easy to relate to – possibly just for me, or possibly for everyone else, depending on your own family life and the secrets kept within it. The emotions that the music and writing is able to evoke is absolutely unbelievable. Simply with the use of words and music, Next to Normal had me crying at the slightest thing, although in this musical, the plot points that will have you crying aren’t exactly “the slightest things”. It was refreshing to see a musical that used so much symbolism and metaphorical language to progress the story.

Next to Normal is easily my favourite musical of all time, and if you ever get a chance to see it, take that chance. Any amount of money you spend on a ticket will be worth it.