All photos by Ryan Emberley
The inTO Launch party, Living Room Jam, promised to deliver a “one of a kind, authentic, and exclusive experience right here in Toronto.” 50 bucks got you in, drinks, a mini-concert (with the band practically in your lap), and a loot bag. Also – hot dog wenches proferring endless wieners and nachos. This party is the first of a series that will appear every month, featuring all-in prices (food, booze & tunes) that end up saving you cash.
Kitch Bar (220 Geary Ave.) is a trip tucked into an industrial strip and underneath passing freight trains. It’s a jumble of mismatched living room furniture, black velvet paintings, pinatas, golden eagles, and 1930’s cartoons projected on a massive screen. The audience is like an unpretentious after-hours crowd but minus the scum and ketamine. The staff are in black like Mussolini revivalists. A bank of picnic tables has the feel of a family reunion barbecue. The bar itself is a bowling alley lane.
Eight and a Half is a 3-piece hybrid of the Stills and Broken Social Scene: Dave Hamelin, Liam O’Neil and drummer Justin Peroff. I was dreading maudlin indie crooning but am pleasantly surprised by a raw, punchy set that betrays their influences (the Clash, Sonic Youth, Coltrane, Pink Floyd & growing up in the 80’s). It’s all whorling propellor synths, driving drums and drug references. Dave prefaces ‘Walked into Diazepene’ by saying “I don’t often take them, but when I do, I like them.”
Some sort of snare stand (?) breaks so the band takes questions from the audience. Well, from Twitter anyways. Later they field questions from the real life people sitting in front of them. The synth player and singer are from Montreal. They live in Toronto now and wonder why cars have to drive 100 mph down Queen St. They recommend Union at Queen and Ossington (1/2 priced wine on Mondays!) and duck eggs from Sanagan’s in Kensington Market. They named their band after the Fellini film “about megalomania,” notes Dave. “Because I am a megalomaniac.”
Why is there SO much vitamin water on every surface? I’ve been wary of it ever since my sister-in-law used it to water her plants and it killed them. But it’s likely no worse for my organs than the Canadian Club colas that I’ve been downing. Plus it’s getting steamy and the place is packed to the tits so I suck it back.
“It’s hot. This one’s about going to India,” says Dave. “And I’m sure it’s way hotter there.”
The inTO series is a pretty hot ticket with minimal douchiness. You should go. For info on upcoming inTO events, visit Sceneopolis.