SHAKE A TAIL at Stones Place (1255 Queen West), Saturday (October 14), 9 pm. $5. http://myspace.com/shakeatail. Rating: NNNNN
Club nights featuring old music played for young people are nothing new in Toronto. What is new and refreshing about the current crop of oldies nights is that for a change they're not based on the anglophile mod point of view.
Not that any young mods would be turned away, but these events are much less about filtering the music of the 60s through the Brit perspective. You've got parties like Goin' Steady packing the Boat for 50s dance music, Doing It To Death's 60s funk and soul shindigs, Move On Up's classic reggae and soul, and Shake A Tail, a night of 60s pop and soul that in a little over a year has gone from a one-off party to an almost weekly event at Stones Place.
"It's something I think we always wanted to do," recalls Michael Balazo as we sip pints next door to Stones Place at the Rhino. "We used to go to nights like Blow Up, the Mod Club, various soul and reggae nights and thought we'd like to do something, too, but the first time we tried to do a night at the Fuse Room the bar went out of business the week of our party. We'd already spent $200 on posters."
"The idea was to do a night where we could hear the stuff we listen to. We thought that since we liked this stuff, there must be someone else who did, too," says Aaron Knight.
"We're not as Brit-centric as a lot of those nights were. We play a lot of American rock from the 60s that you wouldn't hear," Balazo explains.
"I think the mod angle got really overworked a few years ago and got driven into the ground," Knight continues.
"It's still part of it, but not the only part," Balazo's brother Terrance interjects.
So if they're not deliberately tapping into Toronto's large mod scene, where are their crowds coming from, and how have they managed to grow so much in just over a year?
Turns out they were as surprised as the rest of us.
"For the first party we did in August of 2005 at the Boat, we were really nervous about whether anyone would come out, but it was packed and we couldn't believe it," Michael recalls.
"At the next one we tried charging a $2 cover, and it was still packed," Terrance continues.
"When we started charging money and people still came out we got really excited," laughs Knight.
In May this year they cautiously started doing Shake A Tail every other week at their new home, Stones Place. Then, in August, Jerry Stone suggested they take over every Saturday (except for Big Primpin's first Saturday of the month), and so far they're still filling the joint.
Proof that you don't need to drop thousands of dollars on promotion, famous guest DJs or even big-name local DJs to make a party work.
All you need is a hole to fill, and then to fill it well.