Summerworks Music Series: Ruby Coast Celebrates a Birthday and Miracle Fortress Time Travels
Friday night at Summerworks Music Series brought some heavy-hitters to end off what was an amazing week of music. I walked into an already packed Lower Ossington Theatre to Ruby Coast already in progress of playing their pop gems. Aurora, Ontario natives share a similar sound to their geographical neighbours Tokyo Police Club (Newmarket, On), catchy guitar/keys driven melodies with strong lyrics sung by Justice Mclellan, falling somewhere between the style of Tokyo’s Dave Monk and Born Ruffians‘ Luke Lalonde. After a couple of songs they revealed that their bass player was celebrating his birthday, eliciting well wishes from the audience. He also left Jeff Magnum’s (Neutral Milk Motel) show to play Ruby Coast’s show, a sign of dedication that his band-mates appreciated. Ruby Coast is coming off a spring/summer of touring their latest album Whatever This Is – which they released for free – and it showed on stage. They played with a tightness that only a band with a fair amount of road-dirt under its belt can attain. It sound like they have been busy writing new songs, so keep your eyes and ears open for news of a new release from them.
The stage lights darkened for the next act, multiple Polaris Prize nominee Miracle Fortress. A passionate, mic-less introduction was given by the Summerworks Music Series Programmer Lauren Schreiber about her history with Miracle Fortress growing up in Montreal; anyone unfamiliar with Miracle Fortress should go here to get Schreiber’s crash course. Singer/guitarist/beat-machine/synth/general mastermind Graham Van Pelt took the stage with his accomplice Greg Napier on drums and immediately got to work. The stage set-up offered a fair amount of eye-candy to accompany the ear-candy. A constantly colour-changing floor light illuminated Van Pelt giving him a large shadow on the back-drop (matching the size of his music), along with a laser machine that filled the room with sniper-like red dots. Van Pelt stuck mostly to material from his latest Was I The Wave, which is filled with 80′s synth dance tunes, needless to say it got the crowd moving. The album, like his previous Five Roses, has been met with with much critical acclaim landing him on this year’s Polaris Prize long-list. The crowd offered a lot of encouragement to Van Pelt, including some Don Cherry-esque “Let’s Go!” chants. This encouraged Van Pelt to try out some new martial on the warm crowd, which went over really well with the crowd; “The fact that I feel comfortable trying new stuff on you guys is a compliment to how great of a crowd you are.” Van Pelt stated as he thanked the crowd for coming out. The crowd showed their love and respect for Miracle Fortress as they quickly called them back after the set was finished, Van Pelt rewarded them by playing some old favorites.
I capped off this marathon week of music fittingly with a Lakeview poutine and a beer, reflecting on all the great music I took in courtesy of Summerworks. As I was sopping up the last bits of cheese curd and gravy, I concluded that Summerworks has been providing an essential service to Toronto and Canada’s culture by providing a platform for our artists to perform, learn, grow and be appreciated. As citizens and patrons of the arts, we should do whatever we can to protect these platforms. ’Nuff said!