The top Toronto concerts for January are a jumble of heavy guitars, bedroom synths and buzz-worthy pop with nothing in common except a valiant effort to enliven our city during the dreariest time of year (or maybe not so dreary, depending on how the rest of this El Niño thing plays out). Time to put away our AOTY lists and look forward to our musical future; even city hall wants us to.
One New Year's reflection of note: where do we stand on the state of nu-metal in 2016? Because judging by Orgy coming to Rockpile West and the Family Values tribute planned for this month, I'm worried we've become too forgiving of past sins.
I know January's a tough month, but there's no need for us to go back to our dropped tunings and backwards red ball caps just yet. Think positive!
If you need better concert inspiration, here are my picks for the best shows in town this month.
Cloakroom and Wildhoney (January 4, Smiling Buddha)
Cloakroom's self-coined "stoner emo" tag sounds like a joke and probably is, but damn if it isn't an accurate description of their music (in a good way, promise). They're joined by youthful pop-shoegazers Wildhoney and others for this noisy night at Smiling Buddha.
Syrian Refugee Support Show (January 8, The Garrison)
Toronto's art-music underground is doing its part to welcome the new Syrian refugee influx with this eclectic benefit show. PWYC and catch cool locals such as multisensory electronic artist Petra Glynt, muddy garage band Dirty Frigs and post-goth project Vallens, among others.
ILOVEMAKONNEN (January 14, Hoxton)
Despite the grave possibility he's been cast out of Drake's golden kingdom (that Twitter unfollow is serious as a heart attack), Atlanta hip-hop upstart ILOVEMAKONNEN still managed to have a pretty good 2015. This Hoxton set comes on the heels of his latest well-received EP.
Majical Cloudz (January 15, The Garrison)
With second full-length Are You Alone? fresh off the presses and garnering a warm critical reception, the emotionally charged electronic work of duo Devon Walsh and Matthew Otto is primed for live unveiling during their upcoming North American tour, kicking off in Toronto.
Muse (January 16, ACC)
Some might find sprawling dystopian concept albums performed by ultra-glam futuristic Queen disciples to be, shall we say, a tad excessive. But Muse? They call it "back to basics." That's the kind of unabashed dedication to showmanship worth paying top concert dollar for.
The Long Winter (January 16, The Great Hall)
The fourth year of this successful art and music series is well underway with another promising January installment. TUNS (featuring Sloan, Super Friendz and Inbreds members) and about 16 other acts will provide the tunes alongside visual artists, comedy troupes, artisanal food makers and more.
Hamilton Leithauser and Paul Maroon (January 20, Dakota Tavern)
The Walkmen's former frontman settled into life as a solo crooner after his mid-2014 retro-pop debut Black Hours, but recently re-teamed with fellow ex-Walkmen Paul Maroon, most recently offering collab EP I Could Have Sworn. Hear the new stuff early - no, literally. It's a 6pm show.
Sleep (January 22, Phoenix)
Before Matt Pike became the noted, incredibly shirtless metal chieftain of High on Fire, he forged the sludgiest riffs for San Jose band Sleep at the dawn of the stoner rock era. On the rare lucky occasion, they reunite for a brief string of live dates such as this. If you got a ticket early, pat yourself on the bong, because it's already sold out.
Oh Wonder (January 23, Danforth Music Hall)
This pop duo from London engineered a totally atypical path to success; before even setting foot on a stage, they've been releasing one single online a month to culminate in their debut album. Considering they've racked up millions of Soundcloud plays and instantly sold out many of their first live dates, the strategy seems genius.
Smiling Buddha's 1.5-Year Anniversary (January 29-30, Smiling Buddha)
The long-held dive on the outskirts of Little Italy has chosen an odd midpoint to celebrate their 2014 reinvention to a buzz-band hub, but I certainly won't complain with alumni such as Odonis Odonis, New Fries, Greys and Mimico performing.
Neon Indian (January 30, Lee's Palace)
Alan Palomo's 80s-washed synth nostalgia is fun on record and even better coupled with his live energy. The band's closing out current tour for VEGA INTL. Night School, a seedier take on chillwave, at Lee's.
Did I miss your most anticipated show? Tell us about it in the comments.
Photo via Petra Glynt's Facebook page
by Shazia Khan via blogTO
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