This One Time, In Tokyo…

Just kidding. This post has nothing to do with Tokyo. It’s just that M, K and I went to Japan back in June, and we’re pretty impressed with ourselves, so we like to bring it up as much as possible. That said, this is really a review of the Matt Mays & El Torpedo show at the Phoenix in Toronto on November 6th. It’s taken me this long to write about it because I’m pretty sure I JUST STOPPED BEING DRUNK from that night. Side note: pardon any snarkiness which may come across during this post. I spent the last 2 hours on a bus and I smell like people.

So yeah, Matt Mays & El Torpedo. Great show. Amazing. Insert numerous other superlatives here. Place was packed, which makes me happy. But I gotta admit, from a purely selfish place in my cold, cold, heart I sometimes miss back in the day when us ladies used to go see Matt and the boys at the Horseshoe Tavern and it was just us and their family. And we were there for their early NxNE gigs when they were supporting their first album as a group, so it’s been amazing to see more and more people coming out to shows. The unselfish part of me grudgingly agrees that there’s definitely something amazing about seeing the band perform to a huge, enthusiastic crowd. It was a moment. Well, it was actually 2 hours.

The opening band was The Arkells. They were fantastic. Maybe you caught their performance on MTV Canada? If not, check it out here. Matt and the boys opened with ‘Building a Boat,’ the first track off their latest album Terminal Romance. They played a great mix of songs off the new album, and older songs including City of Lakes which Matt dedicated to his peeps back in Halifax. Wearing an all-white leisure suit reminiscent of a sexier Colonel Sanders, Matt was flanked by bassist Andy Patil on his left, guitarist Jay Smith to his right, Tim “Jim” Baker on drums, and Adam Baldwin on keyboards. About halfway through the set Matt quipped that he was mugged earlier in the day at the corner of Carlton and Ontario near the venue. Totally possible – that’s right smack in the middle of hookerville. “Anyhoo I’m alive,” he said. Phew!

Everywhere we turned, there were people we recognized as either musicians themselves, or in the Toronto music business. How awesome is that? Generally a tough and cynical crowd, they were putty in Matt’s hands. They were…ahem…torpedoed.

I caught up with R and K about 3/4 of the way through the set. That’s when things got…fuzzy. I like to think that K poured the beers down my throat. We swooned and held hands as the band played some of our faves (‘Cocaine Cowgirl’ and ‘On the Hood’), and I’m going to venture to say that based on our (yes, our) performance, we may receive backup vocal credits on future albums. We were that loud. R and I were also loud when we realized we were wearing the same outfit, but that’s neither here nor there. The boys closed out with the title track off Terminal Romance which, seriously, made me cry. I heart that song. It’s definitely my favourite off the new album. “Heartbreaks are uncurable, and I’m up all night. Stone faced in New York City, trying to set things right…” sigh.

Later after the set (*cough* backstage *cough*), two of us enjoyed free ciggies being passed around, one of us enjoyed the free clementines, and all of us enjoyed the free booze. Hee. That’s when things got fuzzier. But I do recall at one point we may have been roadies? Pretty sure I witnessed R lift a box. Sure, she immediately put it down, but it’s the bicep curl that counts, right? Then there were cabs and the lot of us ended up at a bar and there was a cute (and very patient) bartender and really gross bathrooms, and I peed in the men’s room…and then it was 5 in the morning and I finally got to bed and work time came too quick and I walked into my office and dry heaved into my outbox. So yeah, it was a pretty good night. 

These Nova Scotia-based boys are one of my favourite bands…dare I say of all time. I dare. I can listen to their music over and over and never get bored. And live? Even better. My apologies as I venture into superfan territory here…but for realsies, watching them perform I sometimes realize I’ve forgotten to breathe. Chills. You really can’t take your eyes off them. Their stage presence is unrivalled. These boys have got charisma! I do hope you check them out. I’ll say this: I go to lots and lots (and lots) of shows and without a doubt they are the best live performers I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. True story. 

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