Toronto concerts in February 2020: 18 we’re most looking forward to

Valentine's Day options for the single and cuffed, plus Poppy, Tory Lanez's early career nostalgia tour, a family affair from Rufus & Martha Wainwright and more

Poppy: February 2 at Opera House: Like it or not, the nu metal revival is here. But rather than frat bros with wallet chains and red hats (those have been reappropriated, anyway), it’s coming from rappers like Rico Nasty and uncanny pop performance artists like Poppy. On her new album, I Disagree, the YouTuber-turned-singer takes the unrighteous 00s rage and unsettles it with chipmunk melodies, eerie electronic soundscapes and internet-fried goth-pop. For fans of Grimes, 100 gecs or Attitude Era wrestling. See listing.

EOB: February 7 at the Great Hall: Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien is getting ready to release his debut solo album this April. His live band includes Hinako Omori, Ross Chapman, Dishan Abrahams and Alvin Ford, Jr., who deftly skirt the line between plaintive folk and big-beat acid dance psych-rock. So if you like the adventurous experimentation of Radiohead, get ready for some more. See listing.

Metronomy, Charlotte Adigéry: February 8 at Danforth Music Hall: This is a heck of an electro-pop double bill. The English indie band is joined by Belgium-based bilingual up-and-comer Adigéry, who is a favourite around the NOW office for her electrifying post-punk-influenced dance music laced with humour and Caribbean patois. See listing

Complainte pour Catherine: February 8 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre: Ten years after Kate McGarrigle died, this concert will pay tribute to the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter duo the McGarrigle sisters. It’s not the first show honouring Kate – there have been several since she died – but it’s the first truly family affair that features only members of the family – including Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Anna’s sister Jane and her daughter Lily – and no “special guests.” See listing

Rapsody: February 13 at Toybox: The soulful, inspiring rapper is bringing her A Black Woman Created This tour to Toronto, just in time for Black History Month. She’ll be playing from her newest album, EVE, which pays tribute to 15 inspiring Black women, one for each song. See listing

Wavelength Winter Festival: February 13-16 at Sneaky Dee’s, Longboat Hall, The Garrison and Sonic Boom: Toronto indie music series Wavelength is turning 20, and its annual anniversary festival will be a 20-act look back/look ahead. This year’s Polaris Prize winner Haviah Mighty gets top billing, sharing space with fellow new class Canadian artists like rapper Lou Phelps, R&B artists Desiire and TRP.P and folk singer/songwriter Kaia Kater. Local electronic soul duo LAL shares a 20th birthday with Wavelength and will play their debut album Corners in full. Owen Pallett’s old band Les Mouches will play a rare gig, and longtime faves the Hidden Cameras (in their first Toronto show in four years) and Sandro Perri will also play. Lots more artists, so check the website. 

Whitney, CHAI: February 14 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre: For the sensitive souls looking for Valentine’s plans (single or cuffed), you can’t go wrong with this wistful indie rock duo. And don’t miss the fun-as-hell Neo-Kawaii band CHAI opening. See listing

Taking Back Valentine’s Day II: February 14 at Junction City Music Hall: Is there any more emo night of the year than Valentine’s Day? The members of PONY, Pretty Matty, So Young, Weak Hands and others playing this show don’t think so. They’ll be playing full sets of music by Jimmy Eat World, Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and Thrice. Proceeds go to Supporting Our Youth. See Facebook

Death To T.O. on Valentine’s Day: February 14 at Lee’s Palace: This year there are actually two Valentine’s Day-themed cover nights as this local Halloween tradition corners into love day territory. Rapport, Nyssa, Robin Hatch and members of Witchrot, Mother Tongues and more put on costumes and play as Elton John, Meatloaf, ABBA, My Bloody Valentine and other true romantics. See Facebook

Post Malone with Swae Lee and Tyla Yaweh: February 14 at Scotiabank Arena: The generously face-tattooed rapper is one of the biggest artists in the world right now, and he’ll bring his numbed out melodic hip-hop to your neighbourhood arena with a nice pair of support acts. See listing


Tory Lanez brings his Chixtape Live tour to Coca-Cola Coliseum on February 23

Jacques Greene: February 15 at Velvet Underground: The Toronto-based electronic producer’s 2019 album Dawn Chorus landed on our best local albums of the year list – an introspective, shoegaze-channeling dance album with hazy and expansive synths and percussion. Still, expect things to get sweaty at this one. See listing

U.S. Girls: February 15 at Paradise Theatre: Meg Remy and her ever-evolving Toronto-based political pop project have a new album, Heavy Light, out in March, and a bigger show at the Great Hall in May. This one is sold out, but if you managed to snag a ticket you’ll get a good preview of the new material. It includes a ton of musicians, so expect a big, theatrical and (sure) cinematic show. See listing

Emily King: February 17 and 18 at Drake Hotel: This New York singer/songwriter’s 2019 album Scenery earned a perfect NNNNNs from our critic, and she’s already got a new one. Sides is filled with acoustic versions of songs from her strong decade-long catalogue and these two shows will find her playing in similar stripped-down fashion. See listing.

Wolf Parade: February 18 and 19 at Mod Club: The Montreal indie rockers are back to the trio formation in which they first blew up 15 years ago, and their new album Thin Mind feels like not much has changed – in a good way. Expect the old and new to combine here. See listing

Bat For Lashes: February 22 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre: When Natasha Khan comes to Toronto in February, it’ll be the English musician’s first local headlining show in more than a decade. As Bat For Lashes, Khan has earned a rep for witchy world-building, surrounding each album with fantastical imagery intertwined with personal mythology. Her latest LP, Lost Girls, takes her torchy synth-pop into the realm of 80s horror soundtracks. The shows on this short North American tour are billed as “intimate, vocal, electronic synth and piano sets” and will include never-performed-before BFL songs in addition to Lost Girls tracks. See listing.

Tory Lanez: February 23 at Coca-Cola Coliseum: Nostalgia pays. Tory Lanez’s Chixtape 5, in which he recreates and updates 00s hip-hop and R&B hits with help from the songs’ original artists, is a huge streaming hit – and now the silky-voiced local singer is bringing the project to life with three shows in three cities, ending with this hometown show. The show promises “friends,” who are still unbilled but you could make some guesses (or wishes) based on the tracklist, which includes guests like Lil Wayne, Ashanti, T-Pain, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris and Mya. See listing.

Refused with Youth Code: February 25 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre: Start warming up your voices to shout “CAN I SCREAM?” – long-running Swedish punks Refused are bringing their new noise to Toronto, touring behind the 2019 album War Music. See listing

Cam’Ron: February 28 at Velvet Underground: The legendary Dipset rapper recently released Purple Haze 2, the sequel to his beloved decade-and-a-half old album – and he’s been hinting it could be his last. So you’ll want to be at this surprisingly intimate show if you’ve been clamouring to see him. See listing


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