Every time Tortured Soul play Toronto they make a few more converts. At their last gig here, the NYC soulful house band were hampered by various technical problems but still managed to play a set that impressed everyone in the club.
Last Saturday they returned to town for a gig upstairs at the El Mocambo . This time their venue had actually been designed for live bands, so things went much more smoothly (although the opening DJs experienced various technical glitches). Tortured Soul are one of the few live house bands who can get crowds out of the stand-around-and-watch mode and up and dancing, though the three members don't move around much themselves. Their frontman and singer is also their drummer, so his mobility is restricted.
Hopefully, the band will be able to take a break soon from constant touring to go back to the studio. While their songs are strong, the hits have all been out for a while and they could use some new material to flesh out their set.
Roxy Blu's last stand
Friday night, Roxy Blu hosted their last special event, a classic house party featuring an all-local lineup. It was almost empty when we walked through the doors, but sometime after midnight it started filling up with deep house fans paying their last respects to the long-running venue.
Over the years, many in the deep house, garage and rare groove scenes complained about Roxy Blu. But while the sound may not have been the cleanest, it was still a hell of a lot better than the glut of restaurant/lounges that dominate the city.
What's saddest about the closing is the hole it's left in this particular house scene. Granted, the numbers haven't been good for a few years, so we all saw it coming, but now the city is left with almost no mid-sized venues for underground dance music.
Looking at the long list of boutique clubs that have gone under and the chi-chi martini lounges that replaced them, it's hard not to feel that we've come to the end of an era.
To be fair, a handful of hip little clubs have sprung up over the past year - Footwork , the Social and the Octopus Lounge , for example. Whether they'll fill the gaps left in the wake of the bankruptcies remains to be seen.
Rockin' the Boat
How's this for something different? A 1950s-themed party of doo-wop, rock and roll, early R&B and juke joint jazz in a restaurant styled to look like the inside of a boat (see Club Spotlight on the Boat , page 71) thrown by a bunch of young indie kids. Last Saturday's Goin' Steady was a charming little party that got a pretty good turnout considering the absurd concept. There was lots of dancing by the time it filled up, and some people even got dressed up in vintage costumes for the occasion.
Very silly, but very fun.