Saturday, January 09, 2010

Wavelength 500 lineup and reminiscences.

The much-loved weekly music series, Wavelength, ends its ten-year run in mid-February with an exciting 5-night festival. Here are the details:

10th Anniversary Festival
February 10-14, 2010

Wednesday, Feb. 10th
@ The Music Gallery, 197 John St.
Bruce Peninsula
Evening Hymns
Pony Da Look
Deep Dark United
7pm • $12 adv

Thursday, Feb. 11th
@ Steam Whistle Brewery, 255 Bremner Blvd.
Holy Fuck
The Russian Futurists
Diamond Rings
Professor Fingers
8pm • $18 adv

Friday, Feb. 12th
@ Sneaky Dee's, 431 College St.
From Fiction (reunion)
The Bicycles (reunion)
Laura Barrett
Magic Cheezies
Young Mother
9pm • $12 adv

Saturday, Feb. 13th
@ SPK / Polish Combatants Hall, 206 Beverley St.
The Constantines
Rockets Red Glare (reunion)
Donne Roberts
Danger Bay
8pm • $20 adv

Sunday, Feb. 14th
@ The Garrison, 1197 Dundas St. W.
Kids On TV
The Barcelona Pavilion (original line-up reunion)
Mean Red Spiders
Neck a.k.a. Christiana (reunion)
9pm • PWYC (door only)


Buy passes and single-night advance tickets (except for Feb. 14, door only) at Soundscapes (572 College St.), Rotate This (801 Queen St. W.), or online at

After February, Wavelength Music Arts Projects will continue offering special events from time to time, but things just won’t be the same.

I first went to a Wavelength in the summer of 2007, the season I started going to shows. Before the year was up I'd been at three, witnessing memorable performances by Ladyfingers, Guelph's now-defunct Elbow Beach Surf Club, and the "Remember Toronto" show. In 2008 I went to Sneaky Dee's 17 or 18 times on Sunday nights---nothing record-breaking, but enough to make me a semi-regular attendee, especially come June. (15 of the shows I saw that year were between June and December.) During 2009, the final full year of the series, I hit up 25 shows, or about half. Other than the men directly involved, and the bar staff working those nights, there are few people who attended so many. Maybe none.

I came to WL late in the game---the first show I went to was numbered 373---and over time I came to understand more of the history and importance of these Sunday nights, first at a place called Ted's Wrecking Yard, then Lee's, the El Mo, mostly Sneaky Dee's, and finally the Garrison. When I first watched the City Sonic short film featuring Brian Borcherdt of Holy Fuck talking about WL, I knew what he was on about, even if I knew few details. Lots of great Toronto acts, some still around and much more famous, and others long-since broken up, played WL in their early days. (Stuart Berman has a good write-up from last February.)

I've seen some great performances. Ladyfingers was awesome; I bought his record, and it just wasn't the same with a backing band. Jon-Rae Fletcher, earlier this year, stunned me, though I'd seen him before to little effect. I immediately purchased his latest effort and listened obsessively. He'd been better live that night, too. The reason? "Fuck, it's good to be back at Sneaky Dee's," Jon-Rae exclaimed, after telling the audience he'd seen some of his favourite shows at Wavelengths there. That night's performance was more than just another gig. I first saw Tune-Yards on that stage, and though she's played and impressed much larger Toronto crowds since then, that first show is the one I'll remember. I really liked Sandman Viper Command, Hopeful Monster, Henri Faberge & the Adorables (performing as Have Fun At The Altar), and was amazed by the sudden onslaught of people for Steamboat's headlining set. Some of my favourite performances of the past year happened at a WL: Jon-Rae of course, but also Parlovr (at the Garrison) and the show with Maylee Todd & Pegwee Power, the Wilderness of Manitoba, and the Weather Station. I used to think Sneaky Dee's had much to do with why I loved the series, but I now realize WL made Sneaks into my favourite venue: I haven't been there since the series moved.

I didn't like everything, of course. I couldn't handle Uhlan or the Element Choir; the Heart Beats were off-key; Pace the Stairs were awful; and so were Lanterns, booked too soon. Life of a Craphead annoyed me, as did one recent guest MC. Friendly Rich made me so mad I stormed out and was enraged for days.

But for me, WL is much more than music. It's part of my life, one of the things that makes Toronto such a great place to live. I feel comfortable at a WL show, and notice when the crowds are a bit different from usual. I talk to the door guys and Jenny, the woman who takes my money. My sense of partial ownership explains why I get uppity about people who never come, but talk like they do. When I don't go, my roommate asks me why not. I feel like perhaps I'm missed when I skip one.

Thanks WL. I'll miss you.


suckingalemon said...

speaking of.....jon rae and the river put on one of the best wavelengths(#324) a really long time ago in the summer times. i remember it being completely packed and it was so sweaty it felt like i had gone swimming in my pants. it was one of their finest performances id ever seen. it was just one of those special nights.

it's pretty true, the amazing shows that have happened at dee's (many of which were WL shows) have placed that venue in a special place in my heart. the garrison is alright but i miss a lot of the shows happening at dee's. most likely just due to nostalgic reasons/good vibes i remember.

great WL post.

historyjen said...

That sounds awesome, Aviva!
Thanks for telling me about it.

Oh Canada said...

Oh Jen where would bands be without you? If there's nobody listening - I don't mean hearing, I mean listening using the whole range of eyes ears brain heart gut and memory - then there's no point to playing the music. We're all really lucky to be here, and "here" is really lucky to have you.


Jeremy Strachan said...

Friendly Rich made you so mad you were enraged for days? I feel like I might have been playing in the band when you saw him. Was it last August? Sorry about that..he's actually really an amazing and inspiring guy.