Just kidding, it was the best.
There were five fantastic musicians on this year’s Toronto stop. Two of whom I was previously a huge fan, and another whose band I was familiar with, but not his solo work. The other two, I was completely unfamiliar with. Last year, I was so completely blown away by the players that were previously unknown to me, that I made a specific point of not listening to any of the names that were new to me this year, hoping to relive some of that unexpected delight. And while I’ll say that none of them quite approached the suckerpunch of awesomeness that I received last year (I’m looking at you Cory Branan), every musician on the lineup was a pleasant surprise, to say the least.
The evening opened up with the usual ensemble introduction, which is always a blast, then followed with a set by Toh Kay, of Streetlight Manifesto. It was very interesting to hear the ska-punk/reggae stylings of his band re-imagined with the down-home, upright bass-and-fiddle accompaniment of the Revival Tour setting. And apart from drawing a handful of annoying and extremely vocal fans from Buffalo (who got called out for being dicks by three subsequent musician, and they still didn’t get the point), I thoroughly enjoyed his set.
Next on the docket (I think, I got there early by accident and may have had a beer or two while waiting) was a fellow by the name of Rocky Votolato. If I’m being totally honest, he was absolutely enjoyable and a great addition to the tour, but I just didn’t really find his set to be anything to write home about. After him (again, I think) was my biggest “pleasant surprise” of the evening, a young lady by the name of Jenny Owen Youngs; Beautiful voice, poignant lyrics, and engaging melodies. Call me a fan. I’ll be keeping track of her in the future. Plus her hilarious, sharp-as-a-tack banter made it plenty clear that she had no problem keeping her own beside her bearded and plaid-ed tourmates.
I’m not going to go into great detail on the other two dudes, Dave Hause and Chuck Ragan, because they won’t return my tweets and I’m pretty sure a legal case could be made for stalking at this point. But, just do yourself a favour and check them out on YouTube or download their stuff on iTunes – you won’t be disappointed. And if you missed the tour this year, check it out next year, it’s always a blast.