Toronto concerts to catch in March 2020: our most anticipated

Including Caribou, viral rapper Doja Cat, more farewell shows from Elton John, the Women From Space festival and other shows we're looking forward to

Destroyer, Nap Eyes: March 4 at the Opera House: Dan Bejar’s new “computer music” album Have We Met was inspired by Y2K anxiety, a period that’s very hot right now (see also: Billie Eilish’s red carpet style, the resurgence of nu-metal). Bejar’s stream-of-consciousness lyrical style is perfectly matched with opener Nap Eyes, another elegantly rambling witty Canadian singer/songwriter band. See listing

Pantayo, Alaska B, Susan Alcorn and more as part of Women From Space Festival: March 5-8 at Burdock and 918 Bathurst: Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the Women From Space Festival returns for a second year. This edition expands a bit beyond last year’s improvised music focus and features local band Pantayo, who electro-pop and traditional Filipino-tuned gong music, experimental musician Alaska B of Yamantaka // Sonic Titan and the pedal steel guitarist and improviser Susan Alcorn. See listing.

Sudan Archives, Cartel Madras: March 6 at Longboat Hall: Future R&B violinist Sudan Archives (aka Brittney Parks) is the kind of genre-defying artist you see live and then you say “oh, I get it” and then look up 50 YouTube videos. Start that process here, and don’t miss Canadian rappers Cartel Madras opening. We were impressed the last time they were here. See listing.

Limblifter: March 6 at the Horseshoe: It may be focused more on management and entertainment consulting these days, but Eric Warner’s We Are Busy Bodies is a major local indie label success story, and it’s celebrating its 15th anniversary at this concert. The show will double as the reissue for Big Shiny Canrockers Limblifter’s Bellaclava album on – you guessed it – We Are Busy Bodies. See listing.

Moscow Apartment, Skye Wallace, Tange and more as part of IWD Solidarity Concert for Wet’suwet’en: March 7 at Paradise Theatre: Local teen folk-rock duo Moscow Apartment, folk singer/songwriter Skye Wallace, indie rockers Tange and more come together for this afternoon concert raising money for the Wet’suwet’en legal defense fund and Climate Justice Toronto on International Women’s Day. See listing

Adam Green: March 10 at the Horseshoe: Adam Green made up one half of the anti-folk duo the Moldy Peaches, who blew up in the mainstream when Michael Cera and Ellen Page performed a very twee, very mid-aughts rendition of Anyone Else But You in the indie movie Juno. His 2019 solo album Engine Of Paradise is less ramshackle than the Moldy Peaches, but is still full of swooning folk and Green’s singular yearning voice. See listing

Best Coast, Mannequin Pussy: March 14 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre: Prepare to feel old. It’s been 10 years since Best Coast released their noisy lo-fi debut album, Crazy For You. The California band doesn’t stray too far from their woozy surf-rock roots on recent album Always Tomorrow, and it’ll be a complementary softer counterpoint to opener Mannequin Pussy’s melodic punk. See listing

Blood Orange, Tei Shi: March 16 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre: Even after a year without an official album, Dev Hynes remains art pop’s “it boy.” He recently did the score for the film Queen & Slim and released the mixtape Angel’s Pulse. He’s also done some classical composition and video directing, in addition to his production work. So this should be an eclectic concert. See listing.

Caribou: March 17-19 at Danforth Music Hall: After half a decade spent mostly in clubs and festival dance tents with his DJ alter ego Daphni, Dan Snaith has returned to his main project. His first Caribou album in six years, Suddenly is warm, soulful and a fuzzily nostalgic take on his electronic music we’ve come to miss. This month you have three chances to see Snaith live. See listing

Thundercat: March 18 at Queen Elizabeth Theatre: In the time since his last album in 2017, Thundercat has been keeping busy with collaborations with BADBADNOTGOOD and Danny Brown, with his hands on a lot of the most exciting jazz, hip-hop, funk and genre-blurring music out there. Now he’s got a new album, It Is What It Is, on the horizon on April 3, so expect a lot of new stuff. See listing.

Pearl Jam: March 18 at Scotiabank Arena: The veteran grunge survivors have seemingly patched things up with Ticketmaster and are coming to Toronto on the tour for Gigaton, their first album in seven years. They’ve still been touring during that time, though. Despite only slight jammy tendencies, Pearl Jam have a Phish or Grateful Dead-like following, with fans trading set lists and shelling out for covers and rarities. Gigaton is out on March 27, nine days after this show, so expect to hear a lot of new stuff. UPDATE (3/11): Unfortunately, this concert has been postponed. Pearl Jam has actually postponed their whole North American tour over coronavirus concerns.

Sturgill Simpson: March 18 at Coca-Cola Coliseum: His soulful country rock may be too unconventional to sustain a relationship with his record label, but it makes for a fun and exciting live show. Catch the Grammy-feted artist in support of his newest album, Sound & Fury. See listing

Ren: March 24 at the Rivoli: Universal-backed 17-year-old Toronto singer/songwriter Ren is seemingly being branded as a homegrown Billie Eilish with a grunge-pop bent. She’s releasing her debut EP, suitably named Teenage Angst, on March 13, followed up with an all-ages release show at the Rivoli. See listing

Jay Electronica: March 26 at Mod Club: He’s been promising his debut album for so many years its hard to take anything he says seriously, but Jay Electronica put a semi-concrete number on it this time: on February 7, he tweeted that it’d be out in 40 days. Maybe he’ll drop some news here. Either way, the rapper is a favourite when he comes through Toronto. He was a surprise guest with BadBadNotGood a few years ago, and after bringing her randomly out of the crowd for a jaw-dropping guest verse last year, this time he’s got local rapper DijahSB officially opening. See listing.

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Vijat Mohindra

Doja Cat

Doja Cat: March 27 at Phoenix Concert Theatre: Doja Cat is one of the rare artists who can go viral multiple times. After nabbing a novelty hit with Mooo!, she hasn’t missed an online beat. She’s now all over Tik Tok, so don’t be surprised if you see some dance challenge moves. See listing

Deafheaven: March 27 at Lee’s Palace: Metal exploders Deafheaven have spent a decade expanding the limits of what black metal can be, aiming for transcendence through textures of shoegaze, dream pop and post-rock epics. Their 10 Years Gone tour is celebrating the band’s 10th anniversary and playing songs from their whole repertoire. See listing.

Elton John: March 28-29 at Scotiabank Arena: Elton John is like that guy at the party who says “I gotta go, I have an early day tomorrow,” hugs every person in the room and then ends up staying until the last guest is out the door. His Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour has looped through Toronto a few times already, but he’ll be back for another couple of concerts that (we’ll say it again) could be his last – the guy just can’t stop saying farewell. Not that we’re complaining you’ll want to see the iconic singer if you can. His first Toronto concert on the tour, way back in September 2018, earned a perfect five Ns. See listing.

Sarah Harmer: March 31-April 1 at Danforth Music Hall: Sarah Harmer hasn’t released an album in a decade, but she hasn’t been quiet. A vocal activist, she’s been involved in protecting the Niagara Escarpment, protested against the Trans Mountain pipeline and spoke out against the Doug Ford’s provincial government’s Bill 66, which strips away environmental protections. Fittingly, her new album Are You Gone is a collection of songs about the climate crisis, as well as relationships, love and loss. See listing.


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