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Concert Review + Photos: Collective Arts Series Four Labels @ The Garrison – Toronto

By: Tristan Johnston

Collective Arts Brewing and Series Four invited us to their takeover of The Garrison. This label release party promised good music, art, and beer. My initial thought upon receiving this invitation was “Hey, this might be a good way to get a little bit drunk”, and I was right but I’ll get to that later.  The party was in celebration of the release of 80 new beer bottle labels made in collaboration with artists, photographers, and musicians from around Canada and around the world (including the 3 bands playing the showcase). Each label was well designed and unique to the artists who produced them but with so many styles and names, the sheer amount to see was daunting.  I do recommend checking out the full image collection on the Collective Arts Brewing website to see some well made art from up and coming creative types.

As the beer started flowing and the people filed in, DJ Dougie Boom spun from a table off to the side. While he played some great music (anyone who can mix two Buzzcocks songs and the Kids in the Hall theme into their set is good by me) he didn’t play a lot of complete songs, generally skipping to the next track after a minute or two. Sitting in the dimly lit corner between the stage and the dj booth, I noticed a row of chairs with their backs up against the front of the stage. We decided to make camp on the chairs and wait for the bands to start. It was a weird feeling sitting in front of the stage and watching a slightly older crowd mingle and gather around the bar. With my notebook and pen I felt like the head scientist of some kind of social experiment, gauging the effects of alcohol and music on social interaction (if anyone wants to help fund my research I accept donations of all types).

The crowd received the first band Language Arts fairly positively but seemed terrified to come to the front of the stage, forming a crescent in the shadows where the stage lights ended, only getting close to put empty beer glasses down. This left only me and the photographers standing there. This was too bad because the music was worth getting up front for – energetic quirky pop music with lightly played but heavily effected guitar work, airy keys and super aggressive drum lines that reminded me of Animal from the muppet show. The set was fun and light with the singer throwing in a few jokes that made me smile. Much to my horror I was noticed taking notes by the singer and she called me out on it. When I was asked me if I was reviewing the show I froze, my mind raced as I tried to think of something to say. Finally, it came to me, “no?” She called my bluff (she was very nice about it) then went back to playing, leaving me flustered and blushing.

Say Yes’ music was like a wild animal. With growling bass, toothy guitar, and savage drums they produced a huge amount of noise for three people and as the liquor took hold, the crowd moved the semi circle closer, inch by inch. Where I was standing (directly between the speakers) it was hard to hear the vocals, both voices getting buried by the weight of the sound being made behind them. The set was energetic hard rock with a little bit of metal worked in, passing in a sweaty rockin blur.

See the rest of the article and photo gallery here.

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