Press: Live In Limbo, RY X At The Great Hall

“Australian singer-songwriter RY X played his first ever show in Canada at The Great Hall in Toronto, on Sunday October 23rd.

Opening band was Montreal-based band, Ghostly Kisses; this was also their first show in Toronto. Ghost Kisses is an indie-electronica band consisting of three people. Vocalist Margaux Sauvé graced the audience of The Great Hall with her fluid and stunning vocals, with a voice similar to Sarah McLachlan. Not only did she have a beautiful voice, but she is also an excellent violin player. Each band member perpetuated emotion and passion into every song as it was visible in how they played, and the expression on their faces. They closed their set with a more raw cover of “Back To Black” by Amy Winehouse, in which the audience enjoyed and sang along.

After about an approximate half-hour wait, the lights dimmed and The Great Hall was completely pitch black and silent. Light entered the room as the stage door opened, and audience members began to cheer. RY X entered the stage and began the set with playing “Shortline”. Following this song, Ry explained how this was his very first show in Canada and how he felt so welcome coming to Toronto. Furthermore, he spoke about how he loves the energy and culture in the city. In the beginning of the set, audience energy really wasn’t that great which was shocking and unfortunate. However, as the show went on more and more people began to immerse themselves into the set.

What makes RY X such a successful artist is his belief in not utilizing laptops for live performances that have an electronic style to them. He has always had hints of electronics within his music however, more-so with his new album. His band only comprised of 3 people, and they did not utilize any sort of pre-recorded sounds; every aspect of the performance was raw.” READ FULL STORY

Press: Spill Magazine, Joseph Live at The Great Hall

Only hours after taping their The Ellen Show appearance and hitting over 5 million listens for a single song on Spotify, Joseph shared the new music that is bringing them growing acclaim, and that singular sister act sound, with a captivated The Great Hall audience including Spill Magazine.

Joseph brought their signature, intricate harmonies to warm an otherwise chilly October Tuesday evening at Toronto’s newly renovated Great Hall on October 25, 2016. It was their only Canadian stop on their latest tour. The audience, mesmerized, sang along to the rising Portland indie rock trio’s songs from their second album, I’m Alone, No You’re Not (ATO Records). Brian Kesley and Will Tendy backed Joseph sisters Natalie, Meegan and Allie Closner. William Wild from Knoxville, Tennessee was the opening act.

Natalie Closner, the guitarist-singer-songwriter and eldest sister of the talented family trio grounded the powerful band with her energetic, foot-stomping rhythms and edgy vocals. The twins, Meeg (often centre stage) and Allie, along with Natalie filled the venue’s cathedral ceilings with their soaring, ethereal harmonies that have earned Joseph its much-deserved breakout success.

The Great Hall stage recalled a venue in Nashville – the city where Natalie honed her musical craft. The concert’s sequence of songs, including a cover of “Moonlight Mile” by The Rolling Stones, blended seamlessly while building toward the group’s current hit single “White Flag.” Joseph’s encore closed with two members of William Wild joining to sing “Sweet Dreams,” a song dedicated to the sisters’ mother. Near the end of the show, Natalie explained that Toronto was their first and only show without their drummer, who unfortunately got turned away at the border due to Visa issues; his absence was hardly noticed, however, due to the band’s tight musicianship.” READ FULL STORY 

Get Spill Magazine’s full interview with Natalie Closner of Joseph here.

Events: Heritage Night at The Great Hall (Video)

On September 21, 2016, The Great Hall partnered with Heritage Toronto to officially mark our 1973 City of Toronto historic building designation, with two plaques, and reveal our then almost complete, year-long restoration, with a Heritage Night public open house.

The Great Hall’s two Heritage Toronto plaques commemorate this building’s history since its 1889 beginnings as Toronto’s West End YMCA, and the connection to famed Onondaga long distance runner and WWI veteran Tom Longboat (Cogwagee), who trained here before winning the 1907 Boston Marathon in record-breaking time.

To highlight Tom Longboat’s enduring sport, community and cultural legacy, we also renamed The Great Hall’s large street-level venue, the original YMCA gymnasium, as Longboat Hall, in his honour. This two-storey event space offers its own, dedicated entrance off Dovercourt Rd. at Queen St. West, and showcases the original, hand-built, elevated running track Longboat once ran on, now used as a balcony and crush space. The revitalized Longboat Hall also features original brickwork, iron pillars, large Palladian windows on its west side, and a bar backed with original slate salvaged from the restoration of the building’s peaked Victorian roof.

The Great Hall Heritage Night was a collective effort and true “doors open” initiative designed to celebrate the past and heritage preservation, mark the beginning of a new era in The Great Hall story, and welcome all kinds of events, groups and individuals to continue to make their own history, right here in our four venues. The Great Hall team appreciates all those who contributed to making this milestone possible and everyone came out to mark the occasion with us. We also extend our particular thanks and acknowledgement for this event to:

TGH Heritage Invite

Heritage Toronto and the Plaques & Markers Program
Toronto Legacy Project
Program founder (and former Toronto Poet Laureate) Dennis Lee
Cindy Martin of the Turtle Clan of the Cayuga Nation
great great grandniece of Tom Longboat, on behalf of the Longboat family
Athlete, speaker and Heritage Night MC Waneek Horn-Miller
Toronto Councillor for Ward 19 Trinity-Spadina Mike Layton
Event sponsors Amsterdam Brewery and Angels Gate Winery
Entertainment Rambunctious band
Attendees Longboat Roadrunners

Press: The Toronto Star, Shawn Mendes Wants to Be…

The Toronto Star Shawn Mendes’ interview about his pop-up show return to The Great Hall and his Greater Toronto go-tos.

“It still smells like cedar at the newly remodeled concert venue The Great Hall as a giddy crowd of nearly 500 kids — ranging from college-aged cheering squads to actual children accompanied by parents — await Shawn Mendes.

The 18-year-old Pickering native turned international guitar-pop sensation will perform a 45-minute showcase for a mix of social-media stars, contest winners and diehards who lined up outside the venue — some overnight.

When he takes the stage in jeans and a T-shirt, he’s greeted by screams and smartphone salutes. The hashtag #IlluminateToronto will soon become the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter across Canada.

The crowd at the Queen West venue, last Saturday, knows songs from the new album Illuminate by heart, even though it was released only eight days earlier, becoming Mendes’s second to debut at No. 1 on both the Canadian SoundScan and Billboard Top 200 Albums charts.

There’s a more muted response, however, to musical improvisations, such as the band’s mini-jam during new song “Ruin.” While a Mendes show is a tightly choreographed affair, down to the timing of when he shouts “Sing!” this looser style of musicianship seems to be his long-term ambition.

In an interview in his dressing room that afternoon, Mendes says he long promised friends he’d break into a guitar solo on tour, ultimately riffing off script during a show in Vancouver. He’s named John Mayer as a musical hero throughout the promotional campaign for Illuminate, specifically Mayer’s 2006 album Continuum that features “Waiting on the World to Change” and came out when Mendes was 8.” READ FULL STORY

First rehearsal space

The Great Hall, where he returned for the #IlluminateToronto showcase. “I remember standing on this stage for the first time meeting my band and figuring out where I wanted to go in terms of live performance.”’


Press: Billboard, Shawn Mendes at Toronto’s Great Hall

Shawn Mendes Treats Hometown to Intimate Show at Toronto’s Great Hall
On October 1, 2016, The Great Hall was again honoured to host Toronto signer-songwriter, Vine sensation and rising global star Shawn Mendes.

The eighteen-year-old returned for an intimate fan event in our Main Hall, before he heads on his first headlining world tour. His new sophomore album, Illuminate, has already rocketed to his second No. 1 Album on the Billboard 200.

As Shawn Mendes put it himself when explaining about his connection to The Great Hall as a venue:
“Me and my band rehearsed here for the first time ever back before the MMVAS [MuchMusic Video Awards] and I performed ‘Stitches’ for the first time,” he told the crowd of 500 lucky contest winners, whose female quotient screamed at pretty much any opportunity. “So it’s cool to be back here. I remember standing on this stage for the first time meeting my band and figuring out where I wanted to go in terms of live performance. It’s really nice to have it all sorted right now.”

And a bit more from Shawn Mendes Billboard latest concert review, by Canadian correspondent Karen Bliss:
“Over 125 years old, the historic venue, with its built-in stage and horseshoe balcony, was mostly filled with kids and their parents. While waiting for Mendes to begin promptly at 7 p.m., a little boy skipped around a column and a girl braided another’s hair. Teenage girls were anchored in front of the stage, with screams starting as soon as Mendes appeared with his acoustic guitar for ‘Something Big’ off his 2015 chart-topping debut album, Handwritten.” READ FULL STORY

More Shawn showing love for The Great Hall >
Toronto Sun: Fans show love for Mendes
The Globe and Mail: Shawn Mendes on his favourite places in Toronto