Nadia Elkharadly: Best Live Shows According to Moi – Part 2

I have to admit, I saw some seriously amazing shows in the last half of 2011.  Making this list was incredibly hard.  I chose these shows not only based on the music that the bands make, but the feeling, the experience I had while at their concert or show.  So here it is:  my final five favourite shows of 2011. As you all know, Soundgarden is my favourite band of life.  Strict parents and their breakup prevented me from ever seeing them play live in my home city.

1)   Soundgarden – Molson Amphitheatre

I finally managed to see them perform in Chicago in 2010, but I knew it wouldn’t feel the same as seeing them in Toronto.  So when they announced that they would start their North American tour in Toronto this July, I knew I had to be there.  There was a thunderstorm warning in effect but no amount of rain could dampen my mood.  We arrived just as the band was starting their newest single “Black Rain” from Telephantasm, and from that moment, I was mesmerized.  It may sound cheesy but it was literally a dream come true.  I was finally seeing my favourite band on my home turf, and it was everything I had ever hoped it would be.  Every song became a favourite song all over again, from the newer tracks on Down on the Upside, to the older songs on my favourite album Badmotorfinger.  The threatening storm finally broke, about halfway through the show and raged around us as the music filled the Molson Amphitheatre, the thunder and lightning punctuating the pounding drums and fierce guitars and bass.  It was a surreal experience, and one that I’ll never forget.

2)   Band of Skulls – The Garrison

This British band was first discovered by my good friend Kim (the Betty to my Veronica), and am I ever glad she found them!  Their 2009 release Baby Darling Dollface Honey has been my non-stop life soundtrack since early September.  It had been a very long time since I’d been this excited about a band, so when I realized I’d already been contacted by their PR company to cover the show, I jumped on the chance.  The band was just as good live as they were recorded.  Their rock and roll mystique was adorably contrasted by their polite English sensibility.  They quietly and sweetly bantered with the crowd, but clearly preferred to let their music speak for itself.  I loved their music so much that I’m actually trying to learn some of their songs on my new bass!  With their 2nd full length album Sweet Sour slated to be released in February, Band of Skulls will be performing in Toronto at the Phoenix on March 30th.  If you know what’s good for you, you’ll be there, and you won’t regret it.

3)   Rival Sons – Cherry Cola

I’ve had the good luck to see California boys Rival Sons play live 3 times in 2011, and hope to see them many more times this year.  While their set during North by North East was great, and their performance opening for Evanescence was better, nothing could top the secret show they played at Cherry Cola that same night.  The bar was packed with fans and friends alike, all thrumming with excitement for the music to begin.  Not only did it begin, but their set lasted over 90 minutes.  I cannot begin to describe the awesomeness of that hour and a half.  We danced, we sang, we were completely consumed by the music.  We were taken back to a time when classic rock was just called rock, when musicians all wore bellbottoms and had long hair, and women couldn’t resist them and men wanted to be them.  Michael Miley’s drums were fast and furious, Robin Everhart’s bass heavy and powerful, Scott Holiday’s guitar solos dizzying, all punctuated by Jay Buchanan’s formidable vocals.  Rival Sons are taking over the music scene, and after a show like that, it’s easy to see that their future is incredibly bright.

4)   C’Mon – Cherry Cola

Canadian music icon Ian Blurton’s latest band C’mon was a surprise discovery to me during North by North East, so when I heard they were calling it quits at the end of last year, I was sorely disappointed.  I knew I wouldn’t’ be able to attend their final show at The Bovine, but lucky for me my lovely friends at Cherry Cola had them playing another night that same week, so for me, that was the last C’mon show ever.  And boy, that was some last show!  I knew that Blurton, bassist Katie Lynn Campbell and drummer Dean Dallas Bentley could turn out a great performance, but I was not prepared for the intensity and showmanship that was in store that October night at Cherry’s.  The music was stellar, as I knew it would be, Campbell’s gorgeous locks flying as she writhed with her bass.  Blurton’s guitar was no less than masterful, and Bentley pounded his drums with reckless abandon.  My favourite moment had to be when Campbell and Blurton took their guitars outside to literally play on the street in front of the bar.  One very confused passerby could be heard asking “is there a band playing in there or something?”  No sir, the band is playing right here in front of you.  Coming back inside, Campbell climbed into the niche in the wall usually reserved for the lingerie clad dancers while Blurton clambered up on the bar to play guitar with his teeth.  After a show like that, it felt all the more tragic that I would never see this band play again, but I sure as hell enjoyed seeing them that final time.

5)   Rural Alberta Advantage – The Phoenix

The Rural Alberta Advantage have been garnering accolades and rave reviews this past year.  I got the chance to chat with drummer Paul Banwatt at this year’s Coachella Music festival (here), and his winning personality and passion and enthusiasm made me a fan just as much as their amazing music did.  Folky rock, vacillating between light and cheerful to hard and fast, this band puts on a great show.  I caught them at the Phoenix for their last show of 2011, and I’m very glad I did.  From start to finish, the show was fantastic, but the pivotal moment, indeed the moment that put the show on this list actually happened after the show proper was over.  Banwatt, Niels Edenloff and Amy Cole had finished their set as well as their encore, but they weren’t done yet.  Seemingly walking on air, the trio moved from the main stage to a raised platform to its left.  The instruments were unplugged, the mics were many feet away, and it was just the band and their instruments.  A hush fell over the crowd, and there was a feeling in the air; I can only describe it as magical.  Ever so softly, they started to play “Goodnight”, a beautiful and incredibly sweet song.  The entire crowd stayed silent for the whole song, completely hypnotised by what was happening in front of them.  I’ve never experienced anything like it, and I’m not sure if I ever will again.  But in that moment, there was no place else I would rather have been, and I’m glad to have been part of that amazing musical moment.

There you have it, my final five fave shows.  As the year goes on I’m sure I will see many more amazing bands perform, but this past year will definitely be hard to top.

Until next time,



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Nadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in every Tuesday for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

One Response to “Nadia Elkharadly: Best Live Shows According to Moi – Part 2”

  1. Now I’m bummed. The mere fact that C’mon headed to the street WHILE playing a song freaks me out. Why do I always hear about these bands when they’re as good as gone? You couldn’t have dragged me to see Soundgarden (I get claustrophobic when crowds top 100), but that C’mon show I would have actually paid for (and I’m one cheap sonofabitch).

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