Press: Lithium Magazine, CRX — The Great Hall Toronto

CRX is the less obvious (but in my opinion, far superior) side project that has spun out of New York five-piece garage rockers The Strokes. Formed by guitarist Nick Valensi, the band features Ralph Alexander of The Dose, Richie Follin of Guards, along with Darian Zahedi and Jon Safley of The Reflections. Unlike the solo albums from Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond, Jr. (which are decent, but ultimately reside in the nether regions of my basement music horde – unplayed), CRX is a 10 song, 30-minute opus that hits the listener like a bucket of cold water in the face. In the weeks since it’s release, I’ve played it way more than everything by Casablancas and Hammond, Jr. combined.

This evening’s Toronto performance was very much like the recently released CRX debut album, entitled New Skin; It was rife with wonderful uptempo buzz-saw guitar riffs, boasted an excellent array of original songs, ended too soon and ultimately left everyone wanting more. Not a bad way to deliver an album, and not a bad way to end a show, really.

Cast amidst some muted lighting (hardly any front lights and green, blue, red and yellow back flood lighting), The five members of CRX played all but one of the songs on their new album out of sequence, stopping briefly between songs to chat a bit with the audience. Nick commented on the venue, how happy he was to be back in Canada, touched on the US Presidential Election results, and joked a bit about their tour-mates, Streets of Laredo and The Gloomies.

Streets of Laredo (New York by way of New Zealand) and The Gloomies (California) both offered up quality sets this evening. Streets of Laredo, an uptempo folk band, heavy on the percussion, put on a cool 30 minute set of music. The band are on our very own Dine Alone Records, and were quite entertaining to watch and hear. The Gloomies took the stage at 8pm all decked out in white pants and shirts and played a half hour of fresh indie-pop, rife with some cool guitar riffs and a vibe that can only come from the hot southern California locale.

This was an up-close-and-personal evening featuring three cool bands in a lovely venue for not a lot of money! A great evening of music – I’m feeling a post-concert glow today that only comes from a winning evening of live music.” By Mike Bax SET LIST & SHOW PHOTOS

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.

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