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Take your tyke to see Yo Gabba Gabba!—a kids’ show you’ll love too

(Image: courtesy of Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!)

(Image: courtesy of Yo Gabba Gabba! Live!)

Barney, Kermit the Frog and Big Bird were once gods to children, but it’s hard to say whether the parents of yesteryear shared the excitement. Yo Gabba Gabba!, meanwhile, definitely appeals to oldsters at least as much as it appeals to the young. Created by Scott Schultz and Christian Jacobs—the former a producer and the latter a member of California rock band The Aquabats—the music-centric show is like the Austin City Limits of children’s programming: In its four seasons, it’s seen The Shins sing about trying again, The Roots host a fam-jam and Weezer perform as insects. (Other notable cameos: Fred Armisen, Jack Black and Elijah Wood.) When Music is Awesome, the show’s touring production, hits the Sony Centre this Thursday, the majestically sideburned DJ Lance Rock, rapper-entertainer Leslie Hall, hip-hop OG Biz Markie and a flock of fluorescent puppets will recreate the magic with live performances, an onstage dance party and a beat-boxing lesson. Hey, the kids might even like it, too.

Thurs. Oct. 23. $33.15–$55.40. Sony Centre, 1 Front St. E., 416-368-6161, yogabbagabbalive.com.

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Welcome The Wooden Sky home at Lee’s Palace

(Image: Sarah Creskey)

(Image: Sarah Creskey)

There’s a lot on Let’s Be Ready, the fourth album from Toronto folk-rock outfit The Wooden Sky, that could convince a listener that the band looks forward to coming home. On the brilliant record, which was released in early September, frontman Gavin Gardiner sings about the nomadic lifestyle of a touring band, long bus rides and separated lovers—the sorts of things he and his bandmates have been grappling with since departing on a cross-Canada tour last month. In other words, the group is likely to be in high spirits when it hits Lee’s Palace for a pair of proper hometown gigs. Expect some high-voltage indie rock mixed with the atmospheric folk the band built its name on. Add opening performances from local experimental art rockers Absolutely Free, who released their debut album mere days ago, and the shows promise to be two massive, memorable homecoming parties.

Fri. Oct. 17–18. $17.50. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., 416-532-1598, chelsea-records.com.

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See The Book of Mormon, no Broadway pilgrimmage required

(Image: Joan Marcus)

(Image: Joan Marcus)

The Book of Mormon has had its fair share of hype: it has collected a whack of Tonys and won accolades from countless critics. All we’ll say is that there’s more than enough reason to grab a ticket for the show’s new Toronto run. The musical tells the satirical story of two teenage Mormon missionaries (played by Gavin Creel and Christopher John O’Neill) who, after being posted in a small, disease-plagued Ugandan village, begin to question their faith. The show was created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the minds behind South Park, and scored by Avenue Q composer Robert Lopez—so it’s not quite as heavy as it may sound in summary. Regular tickets are still available, though the discounted pre-show ticket lottery might be worth the wait (details here).

Until Nov. 30. $49–$200. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 416-872-1212, mirvish.com.

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Get a head start on Toronto’s Long Winter

Scenes from various Long Winter events. (Images: Colin Medley)

Scenes from various Long Winter events. (Images: Colin Medley)

It’s been roughly three weeks since summer officially ended, which, given this country’s notoriously short autumns, means winter is just around the corner. Among the season’s few upsides—warm beverages, layering, less construction—is the return of Long Winter. Produced by a collection of artists and curators and a few members of Toronto hardcore outfit Fucked Up, the treasured concert series is kicking off its third season by taking over the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. The night’s program is overflowing with goodies. In addition to three separate screenings—a Depeche Mode documentary, a profile of electronic music pioneer Alan Vega and a film about voguing—there’s Doomsquad’s hidden live sound installation, an album-release laser show with Absolutely Free, journalist Vish Khanna’s talk show season premiere, and a handful of art and projection installations littered around the space. Not to mention treats from Holy Moly Donuts. Who says there’s nothing to do in the winter?

Sat., Oct. 11. $11. ($8 for Bloor Cinema members.) Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., 416-637-3123, torontolongwinter.com.

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Sit in on a smart, pre-election discussion with Toronto’s chief planner

(Image: Chris Tyler/Flickr)

(Image: Chris Tyler/Flickr)

It’s election month in Toronto and, naturally, there are plenty of people talking about the future of this city. Much like Toronto Life is doing with its City Series, the folks at Torontoist are hosting Real City Matters, a series of intelligent conversations about the issues facing Toronto. Last week, they talked about where the city has succeeded; before the end of October, they’ll tackle topics of diversity and corruption. Tonight, though, is all about Growing Pains. At the panel, Toronto’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, former New York City assistant commissioner of public space Andrew Wiley Schwartz and two other experts will weigh in on Toronto’s growth, and how it should be managed. “We’re a teenager of a city, unsure of our identity,” writes Torontoist editor Hamutal Dotan. “We need to start having better conversations.”

Tues., Oct. 7. FREE. Revival Bar, 783 College St., 416-535-7888, torontoist.com.

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Four must-see spectacles at Nuit Blanche 2014

A 2011 installation of Máximo Gonzáles's Walk Among Worlds in Madrid, Spain. (Image: Ivan Beunader)

A 2011 installation of Máximo Gonzáles’s Walk Among Worlds in Madrid, Spain. (Image: Ivan Beunader)

Wondering which of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche’s 130 installations to cram into your art-themed all-nighter on Saturday, October 4? Here are four unmissable picks—one from each of the night’s exhibition zones. (Still overwhelmed? Just head to a Screaming Booth.)

Walk Among Worlds (pictured above)
Location: Ogden Junior Public School, 33 Phoebe St.
Zone: The possibility of everything

The world will be at Ogden Junior Public School on Nuit Blanche—quite literally. For Walk Among Worlds, by Mexico City–based Argentine artist Máximo Gonzáles, the school will be outfitted with 7,000 inflatable globes, one for every million people on the planet. The globes will be in three different sizes, as a way of representing the distinction between the first and third worlds.

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Geek out about space with Bill Nye the Science Guy

Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan with Bill Nye. (Image: Loren Roberts)

Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan with Bill Nye. (Image: Loren Roberts)

For anyone who has spent any time in an elementary school since the early 1990s, there’s really only one person who outranks Téléfrançais’s talking pineapple in the hierarchy of ubiquitous educational figures: Bill Nye the Science Guy. He made science fun for millions of children, and he’s about to do it again—and, this time, adults are invited. In town for the International Astronautical Congress, Nye is swinging by U of T’s Convocation Hall for We See Thee Rise, a session on Canada’s contributions to space exploration, from the Canadarm to Chris Hadfield and beyond. Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen, space writer Elizabeth Howell, Western University professor Gordon Osinski and Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan will all join Nye, who’s now executive director of the Carl Sagan-founded Planetary Society. For anyone who can’t make it, the Society will be streaming the event on its YouTube page. Science rules.

Wed. Oct. 1. $10. University of Toronto Convocation Hall, 31 King’s College Cir., 416-978-8849, planetary.org.

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Get over your break-up blues with Lykke Li

(Image: courtesy of Lykke Li)

(Image: courtesy of Lykke Li)

Whether or not you’ve heard of her, Lykke Li is in your iTunes library. Well, sort of. The Swedish pop siren is the female singer backing up Bono on “The Troubles,” the last song off Songs of Innocence—you know, that U2 album that Apple force-fed the world earlier this month. Of course, Li has more to her name than a liner note on a digital release that most people swiftly deleted. The 28-year-old musician has won increasing critical acclaim with each of her three albums; Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen describes I Never Learn, her latest, as “both spartan and expansive,” a break-up album that refuses to “crawl into a hole and die.” Witness Li live at the Kool Haus this week alongside Mapei, a fellow Swede whose music similarly pushes the boundaries of radio-ready pop. Afterward, you might even consider un-deleting those U2 tracks—or at least one of them.

Tues. Sept. 30. $35. Kool Haus, 132 Queens Quay E., 416-869-0045, collectiveconcerts.com.

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Head to the Horseshoe for Fucked Up, “the planet’s best band”

(Image: Brendan George Ko)

(Image: Brendan George Ko)

Metalhead or not, it’s not hard to understand why Harper’s recently described Fucked Up as “currently the planet’s best band.” There’s the energy: shirtless frontman Damian Abraham growling, jumping and hugging his way through lengthy live sets. There’s the acclaim: the group’s 2009 album, David Comes to Life, won the Polaris Music Prize, and its latest, Glass Boys, has been widely praised. And, of course, there’s the music: ambitious, unpredictable, unapologetically loud and undeniably smart. Toronto fans will have an opportunity to see for themselves this weekend, when the Toronto hardcore six-piece plays back-to-back shows at the Horseshoe. Local feminist art rockers Vag Halen will open the sold-out Friday show, and Alvvays (whom we’ve recommended previously) will play the Saturday matinee. Either performance would be an excellent—if slightly sweaty—primer for the arts-and-culture mayoral debate Abraham is set to moderate two days later.

Fri. Sept. 26 and Sat. Sept. 27. $15. Horseshoe Tavern, 370 Queen St. W., 416-598-4226, horseshoetavern.com.

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Check out North America’s first museum of Islamic art

(Image: Gary Otte)

(Image: Gary Otte)

It’s rare that Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau meet in a place where they aren’t the most important people in the room. But on September 12, at the opening ceremony for North America’s first museum of Islamic art, the spotlight was on the Aga Khan, the museum’s namesake and the spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims. A Swiss-born multimillionaire philanthropist, Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan IV funded the new $300-million, 6.8-hectare complex that houses the museum and neighbouring Ismaili Centre. Surrounded by an expansive garden, the building—an ultra-modern structure infused with designs from traditional Islamic architecture—houses a permanent collection of more than 1,000 portraits, textiles, miniatures, texts, instruments and other Islamic artifacts representing a wide range of styles, eras and regions. “In Search of the Artist,” a collection of signed paintings and drawings, and “The Garden of Ideas,” an exhibition of contemporary art from Pakistan, will also be on display when the museum opens its doors to the public on Sept. 18. How did all of this end up in Toronto? An honorary Canadian citizen, the Aga Khan thinks the city is a hub of tolerance and mutual understanding. Prove him right by making the trip to Eglinton East and Don Mills. (For those who swear they never go north of Bloor, the museum won’t be the only new thing to see.)

Thurs. Sept. 18. $15–$20. Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., agakhanmuseum.org.

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Celebrate Indie88’s (Rickroll-free) first birthday

Dan Mangan. (Image: Jonathan Taggart)

Dan Mangan. (Image: Jonathan Taggart)

If it seems hard to believe that Indie88 is only a year old, that’s probably because, in a sense, it’s not. It has been ages since Toronto was first promised a democratically programmed indie-rock station, two years since Indie88 took over Ryerson University’s old campus radio frequency, and 13 months since the station soft-launched with a week-long Rickroll. But it was, in fact, last September when Indie88 aptly kicked things off with Arcade Fire’s “Ready to Start.” To anyone who has happened to tune in to 88.1 FM since then, it should come as no surprise that the station is recruiting some serious Canadian talent for its first-birthday bash. Local pop siren Lowell and art-rockers The Darcys—both long hailed as Toronto’s next big things—will make way for headliner Dan Mangan, the humble Vancouver folk singer-songwriter whose every album has won critical acclaim. Like any good gig, the show is already sold out, but a few extra tickets are floating around, and Indie88 is even giving a few away to winners of its call-in contests. You’ll want to be there, of course, when Mangan premieres his highly anticipated new single.

Sat., Sept. 13. $8.81. Opera House, 735 Queen St. E., 416-466-0313, indie88.com.

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Relive Toronto’s long-lost, much-loved ALL CAPS! Island Festival

Weaves. (Image: Brendan George Kokomo)

Weaves. (Image: Brendan George Kokomo)

Late last summer, Toronto was witness to a tragically beautiful moment. The sparklers had faded, inimitable Halifax emcee Rich Aucoin had packed up his rainbow parachute, and the last ferry had left Toronto Islands for the night. After five years of running on a shoestring budget and a DIY attitude, the ALL CAPS! Island Festival was officially gone for good. “I don’t know how ALL CAPS! will be remembered,” organizer Ryan McLaren said at the time. “I just hope that it is remembered.” This weekend should help. The folks at Wavelength, the local indie event producer that co-presented the fest alongside Artscape, is resurrecting the spirit of the beloved weekend getaway for a free, one-day island concert. The line-up includes fuzzed-out four-piece Weaves, Polaris-long-listed instrumental rockers Fresh Snow, indie-electro duo Most People and a top-secret headlining act. Hop on a ferry and indulge those end-of-summer feels.

Sun., Sept. 7. 4 p.m. FREE. Artscape Gibraltar Point, 443 Lakeshore Ave., 416-392-1030, wavelengthtoronto.com.

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Pay homage—er, Homerage—to a cartoon classic at a Simpsons-themed art show

(Image: Joren Cull)

(Image: Joren Cull)

Ever wanted to taste Tomacco, marvel at a stone etching of the Stonecutters logo or get a good ol’ Glove Slap to the face? Here’s your chance. Later this week, Kensington Market gallery Videofag will host Homer’s Odyssey, a four-day Simpsons-themed art show curated by local editor, artist and poet Lindsay Cahill. Ever since she started watching the show as a kid in the early ’90s, Cahill has had the idea in her back pocket. “I’ve always known the creative potential The Simpsons offered artists and fans, and I felt like there was a growing need for an official Toronto homage to this edgy animated masterpiece,” she told us. It took her about two decades, but she’s finally making good on her vision. The show will feature 22 artists’ works. We’re not sure if any of the brilliant ideas we mentioned above will make the cut, but expect to see a Simpson-ized version of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, a knitted recreation of a scene from the first-ever Itchy and Scratchy Show, an exact replica of the gummy Venus de Milo, and a performance from a rapper named Lil Zimpson. Just think of all the things that rhyme with “D’oh!”

Sept. 4–7. Videofag, 187 Augusta Ave., 647-238-3047, facebook.com.

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Wander Bloor and Yonge streets without dodging traffic

(Image: Gil Penalosa)

(Image: Gil Penalosa)

Don’t be discouraged by the event’s critics: it turns out there’s more to Open Streets TO than just the streets it closes. While Rob Ford was quick to carp about congestion after the event’s inaugural run two weeks ago (road closures for the Indy, meanwhile, are apparently cool with the mayor), the rest of Toronto seemed to enjoy the Sunday morning outing, which saw pedestrians, bikers, joggers and performers take over stretches of Yonge and Bloor streets for four hours. Open Streets is back for a second instalment this weekend, and local shops will again be open for business. Swing by Holt Renfrew in Yorkville for free coffee and donut samples, take in some live music outside the Royal Conservatory of Music, or just wander through spontaneous yoga classes, hula-hoop stations and public art installations while basking in the rare chance to walk and bike down Yonge without being run over.

Sunday, Aug. 31, 8 a.m. to noon. FREE. Yonge Street between Bloor and Queen; Bloor Street between Spadina and Parliament, 647-206-9815, openstreetsto.org.

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See Arcade Fire and Constantines on the same stage

(Image: ღ ℂℏ℟ḯʂ ღ/Flickr)

(Image: ღ ℂℏ℟ḯʂ ღ/Flickr)

It’s been a good few years for Arcade Fire. When The Suburbs snagged Album of the Year at the Grammys in 2011, hardly anyone outside select indie-rock circles had even heard of the Montreal outfit (remember the “Who Is Arcade Fire!?” Tumblr?). The band has since provided the soundtrack for a Spike Jonze movie, topped the Billboard charts and even insisted upon fancy dress at arena concerts in support of its latest album, Reflektor. This weekend, head to the Amphitheatre for the tour’s penultimate show and second stop in Toronto. It’s sure to feature papier-mâché imposters and plenty of disco-fied dance rock. The recently reunited Constantines, local indie legends for whom Arcade Fire regularly opened once upon a time, will be playing first, so don’t be that person who shows up two hours late. Tickets are currently sold out, but are available on the resale market.

Friday, Aug. 29. $45–$90. Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, 909 Lakeshore Blvd. W., 416-260-5600, canadianamphitheatre.net.

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