Watch the new host of CBC’s Q in his natural element
Two weeks ago, Shad was selected as the new host of Q on CBC Radio. Before he takes over, he’s finishing a victory-lap concert tour for his 2013 album, Flying Colours, which earned a Juno nomination and a spot on the Polaris Prize short list. It’s a collection of freewheeling, retro rap tracks about the immigrant experience, race and colonialism under a cloak of fast rhymes and electro beats. March 27. $19. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, masseyhall.com.
Insider intel on the politics and personalities shaping the city. Sign up for Preview newsletter for weekly updates
See Shad before he becomes a CBC star, hang out with Laverne Cox and eight other things to do this week
Watch the new host of CBC’s Q in his natural element
1. Let the kids loose at the TIFF Bell Lightbox
Each March Break, the Lightbox hosts DigiPlaySpace, a wonderland of high-tech wizardry filled with dozens of immersive and interactive exhibits. The highlights this year include a mammoth interactive light installation made to resemble a forest; a 3-D virtual reality space-chase game called Headrush; a trippy (and vaguely creepy) animation activated by the viewer’s brainwaves; and a meet-and-greet with hitchBOT, the freeloading robot who just came back from a cross-country tour. To April 19. $10. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net.
Zun Lee’s images of black fatherhood are refreshingly candid. The Toronto photographer’s black-and-white shots—a father and son running across the road with a football, a infant’s hand wrapped around his dad’s finger, a weeping man with his kid in the background—don’t focus on poverty or despair. They capture life in all its ambiguity, revealing the reality behind the familiar caricatures of deadbeat absentee dads and exacting patriarchs. Lee, whose own biological father left his mother after she became pregnant, took the photos over several years as he developed relationships and occasionally lived with black fathers and families across the United States. The resulting shots, displayed in an exhibition called Father Figure at the BAND Gallery, document joy, pain and vulnerability through the smallest of gestures—a protective embrace, a caring glance, a gentle smile.
To Apr. 2. BAND Gallery, 1 Lansdowne Ave., 2nd Floor, 647-701-4323, band-rand.com.
The Vancouver artist Dan Mangan built his name on easy, likeable songs: palatable indie-folk melodies with quiet acoustic guitars and humble harmonies. By all accounts, they worked, because the songwriter has earned a pair of Junos and a Polaris nod. Instead of sticking to a winning formula, though, Mangan has taken a bold turn on his latest album, Club Meds, which he released with his new backing band, Blacksmith, in January. The new music is ambitious, in the experimental vein of Radiohead, toying with reverb-drenched layers of foreign sounds and effects. It incorporates elements of jazz, art-rock aesthetics and Mangan’s croaky, emotive baritone. The result, heard best in tracks like anthemic single “Vessel,” is an inspired, mature offering. See for yourself when Mangan shares the stage with the equally talented local songwriter Hayden at Massey Hall this weekend. The show is sold out, but a few tickets may still be available online.
Sat. Feb. 28. $18.94. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, masseyhall.com.
The Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado made his name with stunning images that document humanity’s devastating footprint on the natural world. Now he’s gone in a more optimistic direction with his latest project, Genesis. Travelling by boat, bush plane and hot-air balloon, Salgado visited 32 countries over eight years to capture the raw beauty of untouched—and, in many cases, un-photographed—mountains, oceans and deserts. At A Fragile Beauty, his ongoing exhibition at Nicholas Metivier Gallery, he showcases gelatin silver prints that feel more like chrome-infused paintings than true-to-life photographs: a colony of penguins playfully parading down an icy slide, a timid leopard stooping by the side of a lake and the claw of an iguana stretched out on a rock like a baby’s foot. The works may not be as damning as Salgado’s earlier images, but their message—one of hope—is just as affecting. Click through the image gallery for a look.
To Feb. 28. Nicholas Metivier Gallery, 451 King St. W., 416-205-9000, metiviergallery.com.
When the American folk musician Father John Misty (otherwise known as Josh Tillman) released his debut album, Fear Fun, in 2012, he quickly transformed from an obscure ex–Fleet Foxes drummer into a solo heavy-hitter. His arsenal of psychedelic folk evokes the roots-rock forefathers of the 1960s and ’70s: drawled-out melodies, twangy guitar licks, ubiquitous tambourine. Where Fear Fun found success in tradition, Tillman’s sophomore record, I Love You, Honeybear, finds its groove breaking the rules. The new batch of love songs, which Tillman wrote for his wife, are still steeped in the tradition of solo-era John Lennon and Harry Nilsson, but feature a slew of compelling accompanists—a ragtime jazz combo, electronic percussionist, and mariachi band—that lend spontaneity to the disc. Hear it for yourself when Tillman brings his vintage persona to Toronto this Wednesday. The event is sold out, but, as always, there are ways.
Wed. Feb. 18. $29.50–$32.75. Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., 416-778-8163, collectiveconcerts.com.
Paintings by the Canadian Cree artist Kent Monkman feel familiar at first—romantic landscapes, coniferous forest, Mount Rushmore—but quickly reveal their surrealism: indigenous warriors reign mightily from rearing stallions, stoic rhinos and sleek red motorcycles, empowered in a way that native North Americans have rarely been in western art. In a new series of works on display at Toronto’s Centre Space until the end of February, Monkman hyperbolizes, subverts and prods the power dynamics that governed the relationship between European colonizers and North America’s first inhabitants. Instead of somber sermonizing, he goes for playful exuberance: the works feature outlandish allusions to Greek mythology and frequent cameos from the artist’s queer alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle.
To Feb. 28. Centre Space, 65 George St., centre-space.ca.
Separately, Angela Lansbury and Blithe Spirit have been around for ages. One is the 89-year-old British star of Murder, She Wrote; the other is a witty 64-year-old play by Noël Coward that ran for nearly 2,000 performances in its initial stretch. Put the two together, though, and you get an entirely new piece of theatrical magic. In this new production—which sold out in New York and London—Lansbury plays Madame Arcati, an eccentric psychic who mistakenly summons the ghost of her client’s dead wife during a séance with his new wife. The wives proceed to feud over their husband—albeit indirectly, given only he can see the dead wife—in the company of the idiosyncratic Arcati, whose personality is as colourful as her copper hair and billowing caftans. Lansbury won a Tony for the role in 2009. With sharp delivery and star presence, she commands the stage and makes an old work feel brand new.
Feb. 11 to Mar. 15. $35–$175. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 416-872-1212, mirvish.com.
Age difference aside, the international piano superstar Emanuel Ax and Calgary-born teen sensation Jan Lisiecki have a lot in common. They’ve both played Carnegie Hall, collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma and toured the world to showcase their mastery of the classical and contemporary piano repertoire. The two will also share the same stage this Wednesday, as part of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Piano Extravaganza, an 11-day music festival curated by Ax. Together, they’ll perform Mozart’s playful concerto for two pianos and Saint-Saëns’s regal The Carnival of the Animals, as well as a world premiere of local composer Kevin Lau’s Foothills of Heaven, backed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It’s a rare opportunity to see the established past and emerging future of North American piano music tickle the ivories together.
Wed. Feb. 11. $33–$145. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-872-4255, tso.ca.
A product of New York’s punk scene, the Brooklyn artist Jean-Michel Basquiat quickly jumped from the street to the gallery circuit in his late teens, creating shambolic, irreverent works of art until his death from a drug overdose at age 27. His paintings and drawings are deliberately jumbled and messy—colours smudge and swirl, shaky penmanship overlaps childish doodles, ideas are rooted then abandoned halfway. But there’s anger beneath the chaos. Every work confronts poverty, racism and power—the uncomfortable issues that separated the realms the artist straddled. Now’s The Time, the AGO’s new exhibition, is the first Canadian retrospective for Basquiat, featuring 85 of his most iconic—and iconoclastic—pieces.
Feb. 7–May 10. $16.50–$25 (includes general admission). Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648, ago.net.
The New Pornographers are busy people. Dan Bejar is also the prolific front man of the indie-pop band Destroyer. Neko Case has her own career as a versatile alt-country crooner. And A.C. Newman makes his own laid-back dad rock. Every so often, though, they put their solo projects aside, come together and create something magical. The band’s latest album, Brill Bruisers, is a welcome return to their vigorous, upbeat power-pop roots
, filled with infectious vocal hooks and a dense sonic soup of distorted guitars, simmering synths and insistent percussion. Onstage, the group’s strengths are super-sized: Bejar, Case and Newman share lead duties throughout the show, harmonizing here and there before busting out in cathartic unison. The show is technically sold out, but you can still grab a ticket here.
Thurs. Feb. 5. $24.50–$34.50. Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., 1-855-985-5000, collectiveconcerts.com.
Owen Pallett is Canada’s most sought-after musician: he’s created orchestral arrangements for Taylor Swift and R.E.M., played strings for The National and Franz Ferdinand, and collaborated with Arcade Fire on the Oscar-nominated soundtrack for Spike Jonze’s Her. Pallett’s baroque pop is intricate and innovative, forgoing traditional verse-chorus formulas for beautifully theatrical songwriting. His otherworldly soundscapes feature a limitless roster of fresh sounds: tweaked-out harpsichords, alien-like textures, and sci-fi-inspired beeps and boops. But it’s onstage that he really shines—he bounces hyperactively between instruments and effects pedals, weaving vocals and violin with an arsenal of looping machines. See him in action this Sunday at Lee’s Palace, where he’ll play back-to-back matinée and evening sets.
Sat. Jan. 31. $15. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., 416-532-1598, leespalace.com.
In a pair of clever new exhibitions, the Ryerson Image Centre documents how photography has shaped Western conceptions of glamour—and how photography can just as effectively tear those notions down. Burn With Desire: Photography and Glamour and Anti-Glamour: Portraits of Women, both opening on Jan. 21 at the RIC, depict polar approaches to the representation of women in photography. Through portraits of Marilyn Monroe, archival Vanity Fair covers and projects by Andy Warhol, Burn With Desire explores how the medium—with its pre-Photoshop attention to immaculate lighting and gauzy romanticism—equated glamour with aesthetic perfection and vulnerable seduction. Anti-Glamour, meanwhile, playfully upends everything its counterpart professes, featuring contemporary pictures that affront viewers with the stark, sometimes ugly reality of gun-wielding femme fatales and brazen bare-breasted figures. The result is a jarring juxtaposition that gives new meaning to iconic images we thought we’d figured out long ago.
Jan. 21–Apr. 5. Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St., 416-979-5164, ryerson.ca.
The Guvernment, the iconic 18-year-old dance club, will soon be demolished for a strip of waterfront condos—but before that happens, it’s hosting one last thumping blowout. The massive entertainment complex has tapped a slate of star DJs—including the Dutch trance maestro Armin van Buuren and Australian electro duo Knife Party—to lead its epic three-night funeral march, but the best reason to come is Toronto’s Joel Zimmerman, a.k.a. Deadmau5, who’ll be capping off the party. Zimmerman, who got his start at the Guvernment a decade ago, is known for his dedication to all-manual production in a sea of push-play DJs—his smart, dynamic beats and relentless EDM sets appeal to club kids and indie rock fans alike. He’s going bigger than usual for the Guv’s finale, promising a live 130-minute set, including a 20-minute rendition of “Strobe,” his epic 2009 hit that blends clever digital melodies, slow builds and cathartic payoffs. Naturally, the show is sold out, but there are still tickets floating around for anyone who wants to bid farewell to Canada’s largest and longest-running nightclub in true Guvernment style: thrashing and drenched in sweat.
Sun. Jan. 25. SOLD OUT. The Guvernment, 132 Queens Quay E., 416-869-0045, theguvernment.com