By Tyler Hodg
September 11, 2015
For only the second time in their career—and the first time since 2000—Sloan brought their talent to the legendary Massey Hall in Toronto on September 11. As singer/guitarist Chris Murphy pointed out, the band “never really got massive,” but the venue was packed with their die-hard, loyal fanbase. For those who were in attendance, it was a night to remember. For those who weren’t in attendance, it will be a night you will hear about for a long time.
I had no initial plans to write up anything about this concert; I was a “civilian” just looking forward to seeing a great band perform. However, what happened that night was nothing short of magic, which compelled me to share my experience.
Right off the bat, the show got off to an extremely rocky start. The hall was filled with family members of the band, eager fans, and a camera crew set to film the performance for an upcoming TV special, but all were forced to wait due to technical difficulties on the audio side. This left the band to banter for 10 minutes (leave it to Murphy to pull it off), and an impromptu performance of “Deeper than Beauty,” mostly sung by the audience. At one point, the crowd rallied together and burst into “Oh Canada” in the most random, yet beautiful show of camaraderie. These moments helped define the night, and made everyone feel like they were at a concert amongst friends they had known forever, not strangers they’ve never been in the same room with before. There was a certain aura in the hall that just can’t be described.
After all of the issues had been worked out, Sloan kicked into the high-energy “If It Feels Good Do It,” which lead directly into the Jay Ferguson classic, “C’mon C’mon.” While the songs were well received by the crowd, it wasn’t until “Unkind” that everyone truly got into the music by getting out of their seats and belting every word. From then on, most of the audience remained standing (and dancing!). The band even welcomed a little girl onto the stage for their final song “Money City Maniacs” —who at initially seemed anxious, but burst into dance, prompting the audience to erupt and follow.
The setlist included everything from hits like “The Rest of My Life,, “Who Taught You to Live Like That?” and “The Other Man,” to B-side favorites like “Snowsuit Sound,” “Ill Placed Trust,” and “People of the Sky.” There wasn’t a single weak performance that night, and some of the best tracks ended up being the new songs off of their latest album Commonwealth (“Carried Away,” “Keep Swinging,” “Forty-Eight Portraits,” and “You’ve Got a Lot on Your Mind”).
Walking out of the show with my friends, a great discussion ensued regarding the show. A barely-even-casual Sloan fan that had attended the concert with me couldn’t shut up about the night. The remarkable part is that even the mishaps shaped the night into something much more memorable than most had expected. I have never been to a more organic-feeling concert, and I’m not sure if I will for a very, very long time.