Fifteen sonic slices of September

For sipping martinis on your balcony alone, or for surfing with tears in your eyes

Fifteen sonic slices of September

I won’t waste your time. If you’re reading this, you aren’t here to talk. You’re here because you need end-of-September jams so sizzling that you’ll be able to fry breakfast on your turntable, or at least warm a small child’s hands with your earbuds. And you need them now.

I hear you already: “Hold it right there, Jacob. Not that I know who you are, exactly, but I don’t have time to waste. Every moment I spend not enjoying the glorious heat of September is another moment closer to midterm season and my fast-approaching deadlines. If I’m not so relaxed that my limbs atrophy, then so help me God. What’s on this list?”

Well, here are 15 scorchers hand-picked — with oven gloves — from humid climates all over the world. Be sure that the hot classrooms of U of T are empty before you plug in your headphones.

João Gilberto, father of Brazilian music style bossa nova, is on this list because his tunes would make even Brian Wilson call a waiter over and say, “Whatever I’m drinking needs a tiny umbrella in it, stat.” Sora’s recently re-issued Re.sort will have you dabbing at your eyes with your Hawaiian shirt.

You may recognize “Riot!” by Hugh Masekela from last year, when Earl Sweatshirt, his nephew, sampled it. You may also recognize the voice in Makeout Videotape as that of a young Mac DeMarco. But are you here for names, or are you here to attain catatonic levels of chill?

These tunes speak for themselves, but for best results, you’ll want the 1961 Village Vanguard performance of “My Foolish Heart” and the Mandarin single version of “Moonset.” What? Are you trying to do this halfway? Listen, if you can hear Bill Evans’ keys flutter delicately like a feather between your toes at sunrise and not be instantly reduced to half-waking bliss, maybe summer just isn’t your season.

I know what you’re thinking: “You’re still talking, Jacob. We’ve been over this. Do you have my jams or not? Where are the jams?” And to that I say that I’m at my word count now, so here you go:

1. Bill Evans Trio, “My Foolish Heart,” live at the Village Vanguard

2. Ryo Fukui, “Early Summer”

3. Lamp, “A都市の秋”

4. IU and Oh Hyuk, “Can’t Love You Anymore 사랑이 잘”

5. Little Simz, “Selfish (ft. Cleo Sol)”

6. Tyler, the Creator, “A Boy Is a Gun”

7. Taeko Ohnuki, “4:00 AM”

8. Cléa Vincent, “Château perdu”

9. Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, “Are You Real?”

10. João Gilberto, “Brigas, nunca mais”

11. Elephant Gym, “Moonset月落”

12. Makeout Videotape, “Heat Wave”

13. The Kinks, “Waterloo Sunset”

14. Hugh Masekela, “Riot”

15. Sora, “Rayuela”

Why cutsleeve are the next band you should fangirl about

Cutsleeve: unapologetically female, queer, and Asian

Why cutsleeve are the next band you should fangirl about

It’s 2:00 pm on a Sunday. I’m speed walking through Alexandra Park, feeling anxious and a little wired because I’m both late for my interview and I just took a Prozac. I find the five-piece band cutsleeve at a picnic table by the skate park, after initially mistaking a group of teenage boys for them. The spot was chosen because it’s close to the band’s practice space at the Rehearsal Factory — and because I didn’t think we could find a coffee shop with a table for six people.

The first thing I notice is how they’re all wearing darker colours, like punk rock vampires. I’m immediately intimidated. One after another, they introduce themselves: drummer Lian McMillan, lead guitarist Hannah Winters, bassist Hillary Fong, lead vocalist and keyboardist Chanel Fu, and rhythm guitarist and backup vocalist Amanda Wong.

Finding inspiration from artists such as Paramore, Le Tigre, Moaning Lisa, and Wolf Alice, cutsleeve describes themselves as alternative rock but clarified that they’re “still trying to find [their] sound.” Moreover, even though cutsleeve’s members are all indisputably talented in their own right, their personal backgrounds in music are still diverse. Their experiences vary from the classically-trained McMillan to the self-taught Winters, who says she got her start at 14 when her dad bought her a guitar for Christmas.

“I’d sit in my room after school, just going through the pages, playing those old songs like ‘On Top of Old Smokey,’” she said, “and I felt like I had a Joan Jett moment where I was like ‘I don’t want to play these nursery rhymes, I want to play rock ‘n’ roll.’”

Evidently, the girls of cutsleeve are a self-possessed and badass group of young women. As such, they have an appropriately badass name, the origin of which, I soon discovered, has its roots in an East-Asian legend.

“I found out about this Chinese folklore story,” Fong explains, “about an emperor who was sleeping with a partner, and he wanted to wake up and get water or whatever — you know, go to the washroom, self-care.” At that they all laugh, and, smiling, Fong goes on to explain how the emperor noticed his lover sleeping on the sleeve of his robe, and, not wanting to awaken him, cut the sleeve.

“It became a euphemism for queerness,” she says, “and it’s just a reminder that queerness is always in our history, no matter what.”

And this is a history that is important to cutsleeve, since their music stems from their shared experiences of being queer and Asian in Toronto. They are all familiar with alienation from the white male bands that dominate the Toronto music scene.

As McMillan explains, “When I was playing with guys specifically, especially white guys, I just felt super alienated and intimidated, and a lot of imposter syndrome, so I specifically went out seeking these lovely people.” She motions to her bandmates, “especially queer people as well, because that’s been a really big part of my life, and I was like, I don’t really know that many queer Asians and I need to go find them, and now I think I know every single one.”

If you’ve got durian eyes / I’m tired of being fetishized

“Once you find a few you find them all,” Winters said, laughing.

This message that queer people have always been  — and continue to be — an integral part of both the East-Asian and punk community is something that the members of cutsleeve find important to convey in their music. Moreover, cutsleeve uses their music as a tool to express their discomfort with discriminatory behaviour toward them. For example, their songs “Durian Eyes” and “Yellow Fever” address the fetishization of Asian women.

It seems as if being East-Asian and queer is the perfect double-whammy of fetishization.

“The key lyric [in “Durian Eyes”] is ‘If you’ve got durian eyes / I’m tired of being fetishized,’” says Amanda, a testament that holds true for many East-Asian and queer women, myself included.

I remember the anime-loving white guys who told me they only like Asian girls — one of whom pointed to a Japanese schoolgirl outfit in a store window and said, “Damn, you’d look good in that!” — and the guys who yelled, “Yo, you give head?” at me on the street, and after I responded that I did but “not to men,” yelled back: “I like that! Get over here.” It seems as if being East-Asian and queer is the perfect double-whammy of fetishization.

cutsleeve satirizes the objectification of East-Asian women specifically in their song “Yellow Fever,” the chorus of which goes: “Yellow fever / yellow fever / the doctor diagnosed her with yellow fever / and I don’t think I can be the cure for her.”

As McMillan explains, this song was more about “dating expectations and being fetishized and just kind of noticing a pattern in terms of people’s dating history… like when I’ve hung out with my guy friends and I’ll be like ‘who’s the new girl you’re talking to?’ and I’ll just notice a pattern. I mean, I’m not going to say anything, but… you’ve got yellow fever.” McMillan continued, “When you want to take an East-Asian studies class at school, and you go in and it’s just filled with white guys like trying to like, you know…” She trails off, but we all know exactly what she means.

However, it would be wrong to presume that cutsleeve’s music is just a reaction to prejudice, as it is also an exploration of identity. As Wong explains, “Durian Eyes” was inspired by a friend’s art installation of a giant durian, and that song came together through their multiple perspectives and shared feelings of being lost in the Asian diaspora.

“It’s kind of like you’re in this in-between place,” says Wong, “where you’re not technically from here [or] there, and it’s just kind of like trying to figure out who you are around expectations that the world from both sides have on you, but that’s not necessarily indicative of who you are.”

This refusal to be defined by stereotypes is what makes cutsleeve a truly unique and valuable new addition to the Toronto music scene. By committing to the ownership of their identities, they are making space for queer East-Asians in Toronto, like myself and many of us here at U of T.

TIFF 2019: Disco

A compassionate yet exhausting display of mental illness and fundamentalist religion

TIFF 2019: <em>Disco</em>

Disco is Jorunn Myklebust Syversen’s second feature film, and the Norwegian director managed to create a thumping, flashing treatise on cult-like religious devotion.

The film stars the Toronto International Film Festival’s 2019 Rising Star Josefine Frida, and follows her character Mirjam through trials of dance and faith alike. These dance competitions are somewhere between a gymnastics floor routine and Toddlers and Tiaras, as we open on a glittery compilation of dancers of many ages set to a strident electronic song.

Our first moment with Mirjam is a long shot of her barely-faltering smile as she waits to compete. It’s eerie, and although she doesn’t smile often in the film, the forced, labored effect never fades. This also immediately introduces us to one of Syversen’s most employed techniques — the long take. We spend enough time on Mirjam’s bruising smile so that we can note each individual piece of glitter on her face.

Mirjam is active in her church, a shiny millennial rebranding of Christianity called Freedom. Her stepfather speaks in the services often, a kind of Justin-Timberlake-knockoff pastor. Mirjam’s entire family, including her younger sister, is consumed by Freedom.

This is a highly fundamentalist institution, although the pink neon lights and pounding club music attempts to create a gauzy overlay. Syversen draws a comparison between the highly-athletic and performative dance sequences and the extended scenes of monologuing by Mirjam’s stepfather, suggesting the mental gymnastics required in both contexts.

Through long sections of the film that are spent listening to speakers at Freedom, Syversen lets her audience ponder the content themselves and hone in on the specific way that Mirjam’s church will fail her.

Mirjam has a spectral pain from a childhood incident that her mother refuses to tell her about, as well as anxiety and an eating disorder. She begins to crumble as the exertion required between her dance and church performances starts to eat her up inside. Frida is remarkable in her performance, staring deep down the lens of the camera and willing the audience to recognize her ache.

Frida is highly internalized, seldom speaking during her scenes at the beginning, and almost never raising her voice by its end. We are watching a woman drown in her own mind, and Frida plays it as if she’s grieving, over God, sure, but mostly over herself. When Mirjam plugs into recorded sermons from American mega-churches, the searching in her eyes and soul is detectable.

When she begins fainting during her competitions, her mother and stepfather insist that her faith is wavering — if she only believed harder, trusted harder, she would feel better. The shame of her faith being questioned and her neglected personal issues push her on a dangerous path toward a more fanatical religious cult.

Syversen’s sustained scenes of church sermons are cut together with personal meetings Mirjam has with her uncle. The inundation of religious rhetoric is suffocating, with Syversen expertly creating the sense that there is literally nowhere else to turn.

By putting the audience in the same position as Mirjam, Syversen composes a compassionate, if exhausting view of mental illness and fundamentalist religion. Watching Disco is watching someone be betrayed by her family and her faith. The failings of the institution to consider any different method of coping is clear. Syversen is not exactly grinding an axe against religion, but creates a flashing neon sign that warns all those who enter.

As the film builds to a clanging finale, her point is made. No one can survive on faith alone.

Disco hits theatres September 7.

When We All Fall Asleep Tour opening act

Four months after his sold-out tour, Denzel Curry continues to make his mark on rap

When We All Fall Asleep Tour opening act

In 2018 Denzel Curry released TA1300, which is arguably one of the greatest bodies of work to enter the rap genre. The album touched on intricate subject matters in songs that were sonically tuned to near perfection.

Curry’s ability to simultaneously cement himself as a hardened emcee whilst also carrying great commercial success had many fans speculating on what he would produce in 2019. They were not let down. In May 2019, Curry released another spectacular album — ZUU — and went on tour with one of the biggest musicians in the world: Billie Eilish. 

Eilish’s tour, When We All Fall Asleep, made a stop in Toronto shortly after the release of ZUU, with Curry performing as the opening act. I experienced his artistry firsthand. The tour took place at Budweiser Stage; a big venue, necessary to contain the fully sold out crowd waiting to hear Curry and Eilish. 

The venue and stage design were effective. The large screens planted on stage were able to incorporate Denzel Curry’s ‘trippy’ visuals, a technique he has used since his early albums and EPs — adding subtle nostalgia to his performance.

The set began with hard hitting tracks from ZUU such as “RICKY,” which seamlessly transferred into TA1300 classics like “SUMO | ZUMO,” and then ended with his breakthrough track “ULTIMATE.” 

This was perhaps the most exceptional aspect of his performance because it was enjoyed by both fans of Denzel Curry and those few who attended the tour just to see Billie Eilish.  

Time and again since his tour, Curry has proved that his music is different from that of his peers. For instance, TA1300 was largely centred around the pain, confusion, and paranoia of being a young star. ZUU, on the other hand, can be seen as an ode and love letter to Carol City, Curry’s home neighbourhood. 

Both were centred on different topics and incorporated different musical styles and influences. Using his wide range of pieces, Curry managed to showcase both ear-friendly hits and the more cult-appreciated ballads. Ultimately, what this translated to was fans all the way from general admission to seats on the lawn having an enjoyable time as Curry went about his stage antics. 

Curry is a natural-born performer, as illustrated by the visuals from the show. He successfully measured and matched his energy to that of the audience. He dove headfirst into the crowd, jumping off the stage to interact with the audience as much as possible. Never before have I seen an artist at an arena interact with the crowd as much as Denzel Curry did. 

The When We All Fall Asleep tour can quite possibly go down as one of the greatest tours in history. It is rare to see two world-renowned headlining artists go on tour with one another. This most likely would not have happened if Curry and Eilish were not close friends. It resulted in an amazing experience for the crowd. Denzel Curry’s performance particularly made it indubitable that when the time for his headlining arena tour arises, it will certainly be one not to miss. 

Rating: 4.5/5 

Music Review: Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue

The jazz album that shaped popular culture

Music Review: Miles Davis’ <em>Kind of Blue</em>

What does one get when seven musical geniuses assemble and record an album at the wrong speed? You get a cornerstone of modern music: Kind of Blue.

In 1959, seven jazz giants gathered in a New York studio with only a philosophical jazz sketch in mind. Trumpet master Miles Davis captained the musical dream team, with Cannonball Adderley on alto sax, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly playing piano, Paul Chambers providing the bass lines, and Jimmy Cobb on drums. The soon-to-be deified John Coltrane provided a tenor sax thread which, for many, put the finishing strokes on this quadruple platinum masterpiece Kind of Blue. Yes, quadruple platinum — it’s one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time.

The brilliance of the album is enhanced by the backstory of just how it was concieved. Davis only came up with the concept hours before the recording session. The group sketched some musical modes, with no obvious chord progressions, and then took turns leading the melodies in directions that resulted in sheer brilliance. What’s even more interesting is the fact that the first three tracks “So What,” “Freddie Freeloader,” and “Blue in Green” were accidentally recorded slower than they were played, resulting in a slightly faster playback. This error was fixed in the 90s, but it sheds light on what an anomaly the album is: a freak occurrence that contributed to an enigmatic work of artistry.

When you relax with your favourite mood-altering substance — I’d suggest a glass of red paired with a clean hybrid — to Davis’ cool trumpet lines, Coltrane’s seraphic tenor solo, and Evans’ finesse on “Blue in Green,” you will simply melt into the music. 

Davis’ modal approach to composition is exercised in “Blue in Green,” where his trumpet and Evans’ piano sketch a string of ethereal scales and beautiful interpretations. No strict chord progressions here. 

While listening, I have never ceased to be amazed by the fact that these geniuses were not playing from sheets. The result is — all at once — visionary, smooth, sad, and historically influential. It’s why the album’s title fits so perfectly; the music is kind of “blue.” It evokes smoldering sensuality, foot-tapping to the R&B bass lines, overarching melancholy, and an unrestricted joy. How is that possible? Listen carefully and your soul will agree.

For both music aficionados and jazz lovers, this album is a prolific touch point. But the contemporary music lover often overlooks this timeless work of genius. Yet if one listens to traditional hip hop, rap, R&B, and rock, they are sure to be listening to an artist that on one level or another has been influenced by Kind of Blue. This album is a true masterpiece and has revolutionized music since the first sound of Paul Chambers’ eerie baseline partnered with Evans’ virtuoso that preluded Davis’ trumpet on the introductory and most popular track “So What.”  

Kind of Blue is touted as the greatest work of jazz, hands down. People of younger generations should never overlook the influence of this album. Don’t let the word “jazz” scare you. It is not elevator music; I’ll gladly pass on that cacophony style of “jazz” too. 

Kind of Blue is timeless and relevant. The list of artists that openly shout their gratitude for its influence is as long as it is varied. Mos Def, Blonde Redhead, John Mayer, David Banner, Miho Hatori, the Allman Brothers Band, and Quincy Jones all cite the album as a major influence on their musical journey. 

Pink Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright notes that the chord progressions on Kind of Blue can be heard throughout the band’s greatest selling album, Dark Side of the Moon. John Legend religiously played   the album throughout college, and celebrates its incredible impact on his music. 

With Kanye West, a frequent collaborator with John Legend, Kind of Blue is “Bound 2” appear. Even as you watch your favourite films, don’t be surprised if Kind of Blue echoes throughout the score. Robert De Niro’s A Bronx Tale, Clint Eastwood’s In the Line of Fire, and even the television series The Wire all borrowed from Kind of Blue. 

Kind of Blue is as historic as it is sensational and timeless. It should not be overlooked by any generation that considers itself musically savvy. Listen to this album and it will open up a whole new language of music you may never have knowingly experienced. To immerse oneself in Kind of Blue is to be enlightened.  

The Varsity’s summer send-off playlist

For the hour after golden hour… and every hour after that

<i>The Varsity</i>’s summer send-off playlist

Jumping into the new school year is exhausting. Between course selection, tying up loose ends, and trying to make the most of the weather — when it’s not so oppressive — we trudge into September with well-worn bags under our eyes.

Not to worry, though, because this summer The Varsity’s Arts & Culture section has handpicked 10 summer jams to cure your end-of-summer blues and give you an extra spring in your step. No, we are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and no, our research on this matter is not published — yet. But these songs are guaranteed to work wonders on a brain wracked with the exhaustion of doing nothing for four months! 

Peruse our prescriptions below. Take them with a spoonful of sugar if you must, but, either way, relax to the beat of a summer well spent, starting with the exuberant chords of Sir Woman.

Sir Woman’s single, “Highroad,” matches bright, upbeat R&B motifs with a brass section fit for any open-air jazz bar. Her lyrics float in and out of sweeping melodies that build into a cheerfully sunny musical narrative bustling with self-love and gumption, matched only by Lizzo herself.

Complementing the gentlewoman is the effervescent Kaiit, performing “Miss Shiney,” an expository R&B perusal into her artistic process with beats reminiscent of ’90s hip hop, with an 808 drum to boot! Her consistent flow and ad libs add structure to an otherwise weightless song. Its minimalist production value, despite itself, manages to fill the room with gorgeous volume.

Look no further than “Seventeen” by Peach Pit for an accompanying aperitif: a cool beach rock serenade that will leave you bouncing your foot despite yourself. Its charming chord progression keeps the song simple enough to love on the first listen, while its vocals grant it a unique calling card that makes playing it again a pleasure.

Kevin Abstract of BROCKHAMPTON wields a syrupy-sweet rhythm guitar in “Peach,” bouncing along to a steady snare-kit beat that whips the whole ensemble into a warm summer daze. You can practically see this song lounging on a Muskoka chair. 

Contrasting the rolled-back instrumentals of Abstract’s performance, Ocean Heights’ “Out the Way” leans into production and instrumentation to administer a dose of smooth, pop-R&B perfection. Ocean Heights’ vocals drape over the crisp melody like caramel, complementing its layered manufacture to produce one sweet earworm.

“U Used To” by Charlie Burg embraces the cool tones of summer’s palette, propping itself up on pop-y notes and synth-shades to paint a fresh image of a summer fling. Don’t let its high production fool you — its acapella ad libs break through the chorus to give Burg’s foray into summer a sincere and palatable note.

Similarly sincere but with an added tender glean, the abstracted “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate” brandishes Briston Maroney’s distinctive voice alongside killer guitar and a meaty bassline to deliver an experience evocative of those erratic summer nights.

And what kind of mixtape would it be without songs to dance wildly to?

“Honestly” by The Bantams forms one edge of a rug-cutting triad completed by Hounds’ “Shake Me Up” and The Lost Boys’ “Sober (feat. Griff Clawson).” All three bank on their upbeat tempos and lyrics to get you on your feet and moving to summer’s final beats. 

Strewn throughout the mixtape, these songs bring you back to basics to remind you what the best summer music’s all about.

With these songs you’re practically destined to make it through the first two weeks of school. Don’t worry if it’s a slow start to begin with — just think of it as a slow burn to a climax worth waiting for.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and soak up the summer! We at Arts & Culture will catch you on the flipside!

The ultimate summer running playlist

Lace up your runners and put your earphones on, you’ll want to turn up the volume for these hot tracks

The ultimate summer running playlist

We all know Toronto only has two seasons: winter, and construction. So, now that the weather is starting to warm up, try listening to these tunes to block out the city noise when you feel like going for a run.

  1. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, 1982

I strongly recommend starting your cardio workout with a light jog transitioning to a sprint with this classic track featured in Rocky III. This song is my go-to warm-up beat and is guaranteed to help you run the distance.

  1. “Run Run Run” by Celeste Buckingham, 2012

In this catchy tune, the artist sings, “You better run, run, run / Nowhere to run / But to me.” If lyrics can contain subliminal messages, then they are sure to get you motivated for the exhilarating run ahead!

  1. “Nonstop” by Drake, 2018

With over 800 million streams on Spotify, Drake’s song “Nonstop” from his 2018 album Scorpion is clearly a popular fan favourite. The Toronto native sings about the fast-paced music industry and his impressive work ethic that evidently paid for his timeless timepiece: a Rolex watch. Cue the beat: “This a Rollie, not a stopwatch, shit don’t ever stop.” If this isn’t a Toronto man’s jam, I don’t know what is.

  1. “Stayin’ Alive” by Bee Gees, 1977

When you feel a runner’s cramp coming on — usually on the right side, just under the ribs — keep your beats per minute (BPM) steady to this tune featured in the 1977 drama/romance movie Saturday Night Fever, featuring a bearded John Travolta. Fun fact: the beat in this song has also been used repeatedly to teach CPR.

  1. “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey, Cedric Gervais remix, 2012

Summertime is rad, not sad! Especially when you’re listening to the sweet, seductive voice of Lana Del Rey. Her angelic vocals, which are remixed in this up-beat version, are pure serenity. So, enjoy the summer sun heat and feel the beat while the soles of your feet skip through the streets.

  1. “All Day and Night” by Jax Jones, Martin Solveig, and Madison Beer, 2019

The best thing about this song is the continuous melody which makes it a perfect track to run to without interruptions. Hopefully, this trio of artists will collaborate again to make another great running anthem.

  1. “Runnin” by Mike WiLL made-it, feat. A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, and Nicki Minaj, 2018

“Runnin, runnin, runnin, this shit, both legs broke / Runnin, round town, yeah they comin for my head though / Funny thing about it they don’t always see my head though.” The lyrics speak for themselves, but please don’t break your legs for the sake of your run.

  1. “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” by Daft Punk, 2001

I highly recommend blasting this tune to get you pumped for summer. Daft Punk’s songs have an incredibly unique way of engaging the listener, using fool-proof beats that are guaranteed to keep you moving, and maybe even dancing.

  1. “Alors On Danse” by Stromae, DubDogz remix, 2010

Speaking of dancing, this French song “Alors on Dance” — meaning so we dance — is the perfect track. Whether you’re training for a marathon, hitting the treadmill at your local gym, or warming up for a dance-off, this is your tune!

  1. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, 2013

End your workout on a high — a runner’s high. While cardiovascular exercise increases the release of endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine in your body, this upbeat and feel-good song will similarly leave you feeling euphoric and energized.

Concert Review: MadeinTYO’s Sincerely, Tokyo tour

Small venue, big voice

Concert  Review: MadeinTYO’s <I>Sincerely, Tokyo</I> tour

After the release of the critically acclaimed album Sincerely, Tokyo, MadeinTYO hosted his tour of the same name and made a stop at Toronto’s very own Mod Club on February 25. 

The intimate venue in Little Italy proved to be an excellent choice, with the crowd in an utter trance for the entire show. The stage put the artist within arm’s reach of many fans as he jumped, screamed, and spoke in a mesmerizing melodic cadence. MadeinTYO matched the crowd’s high energy, perfectly fulfilling what a musician should set out to accomplish at a show.

MadeinTYO’s set began roughly 30 minutes late according to his set times, but this is a forgivable deed considering the numerous openers — Pilla B, Bankrol Hayden, and most impressively, Thutmose — who captivated the crowd’s attention. It was interesting to see the styles of the different openers in conjunction and the synergy within these acts. MadeinTYO made a good choice picking these artists to support his tour. 

The show carried a good mix of both smash hits for casual fans and fan favourites for his core following, adequately addressing the entire crowd at his show. For instance, MadeinTYO went from “I Want,” one of his biggest smash hits, to “Outstanding,” a distorted trap and bass-heavy record meant to cultivate mosh pits, to “Ned Flanders,” another smash hit with a notable feature from A$AP Ferg. 

After teasing a surprise Toronto guest for several days, fans were anxious to see who the young rapper would bring out. The chatter among fans camping in the line for several hours prior to the show — despite the recent wind storm — was largely centred around this topic. When the time finally came, and the lights dimmed halfway through MadeinTYO’s set, the crowd trembled in excitement. When OVO Sound’s Brampton-born R&B singer Roy Woods came out, it would be an understatement to say that fans were pleased. The crowd went wild, not giving security a chance to rest as numerous fans jumped on each others’ shoulders and rushed to the front of the stage to see the OVO crooner. 

Roy Woods, beginning his set with debut single “Get You Good” and following with his and MadeinTYO’s “Instinct,” exemplified the recurring theme of synergy that was present at this show. Something about the integration of Roy Woods into MadeinTYO’s set — the way their voices bounced off of each other in their joint ballad and the genuine friendship between them — made his appearance such an integral part of the show. MadeinTYO took the time to pause the show and speak about the bond that he and Roy Woods share. While Roy Woods did not steal the spotlight in any way, his presence brought something that definitely could not have been achieved otherwise. 

MadeinTYO’s fans don’t come to the self-proclaimed mumble rapper expecting dense and introspective lyricism — they come to have fun. MadeinTYO’s appearance at the Mod Club provided fans with this and more. This performance was intimate, had several great openers, appealed to both his casual and core fanbase, and brought out a special guest who completely changed the atmosphere of the night. Growing as a musician, it is inevitable that MadeinTYO’s next Toronto show will be at a larger venue. 

The intimate experience at this small venue was one to truly cherish.