Mick Jones, Joe Strummer, and Paul Simonon from The Clash perform at their first Toronto show on February 20, 1979 at Rex-Danforth Theatre.
In the years that closed the 1970s and gave birth to the aerosol 80s, rising bands out of the UK and the States - The Clash, The Ramones, The Buzzcocks and The Pretenders - all passed through Toronto.
Two brothers, with a borrowed Canon SLR, a borrowed driver's license and a predilection for loud music and leather jackets, caught a huge part of it on 35 mm film.
And now that photography is on display at an exhibit called Toronto Calling. A gallery of dozens of photos painstakingly selected from hundreds of unmarked negatives has no permanent home as of yet but will spend the next month at the Steamwhistle Brewery.
Photos not for duplication.
The brothers, Nick and Simon White, now in their late 40s, seem like they haven't changed all that much since they used bar backing jobs at the now-defunct Gary's Bar and The Edge decades ago to gain access to arguably some of Toronto's greatest shows.
"It's come around full circle, it's now history," Nick said, coming off slightly regretful before the night's festivities took over.
The motivation behind the pictures was one of true altruism: a fanzine dedicated to the music that found its way to Toronto. It was not unlike another early upstart, NOW Magazine, where Nick White once made the cover.
"We just walked up to them after the show," Nick explains about getting the photos. "It was all about creating a new thing with the fans, they were so approachable. That what these photographs really get across."
The bands include Joe Strummer from The Clash's first performance in Toronto, a 16′ window display of The Ramones performance at The New Music Hall on The Danforth in 1980, U2 on stage at the El Mocambo, and Bob Marley at his last performance in Toronto.
In attendance at the opening of the show, defacto new wave scenster and author of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond Liz Worth.
Approached by Simon White at the launch of Treat Me Like Dirt at the Gladstone in January, Worth has worked with both brothers regularly since to further define the role Toronto played in exposing punk music to the rest of the western world.
"Right now information travels really fast," Worth said. "When you look at other movements in music in other decades, they've happened really organically. They've had time to be underground and to be really small themed and then to make their way out into the mainstream."
Simon, and Nick for that matter, reluctantly agree.
"The community spirit seems to be lacking, the cohesiveness, but maybe that's a good thing," White said (yes, Simon. Simon says, at least I left it for last). "Music was so tribal in our time. There are pockets of it now, there are certain bands that break out and create their own image. I actually think the scene here in Toronto has been pretty influential in that."
The exhibit, Toronto Calling will be on display at the Steamwhistle Brewery through April 1st. Prints can be ordered through the Toronto Calling Facebook group.[rssbreak]