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I Finally Have Instagram, And I Love It

Oh hey guys! Some of you may have noticed, but for those of you that haven’t yet, I’m now on Instagram @lisalagace and it’s my new favorite thing. I had always felt a surge of jealously over the past year when tweeps would post their awesome insta-pics, and I’m not afraid to admit wanting access to it was the main motivation for ditching my useless blackberry after enduring two annoying years with it. I bought the new Samsung Galaxy SIII as a birthday present to myself and I’ve been obsessing over Instagram every day since. You should follow along if you’re at all curious about my daily life.


Andy Kim Christmas Show at The Phoenix

 On Wednesday night, I had the chance to check out the annual Andy Kim Christmas show for the first time. As I’ve now come to realize, it’s a yearly tradition with a mix of Canadian artists coming out to support an organization important to the 60s songwriter famous for writing “Sugar Sugar” and “Rock Me Gently,” Juliette’s Place.

It was probably the oldest crowd I’ve ever seen a show with in Toronto, so I was a little unsure of what to expect when I got there and it was unnaturally easy to get close to the stage, because of how much space the 40+ crowd likes to keep around them (I was quite thankful for this – worst part about shows is being squished like sardines – I could actually see the stage!)

Each performer (except for Andy, obviously) seemed to be limited to two songs, which was kind of a bummer in some cases but a relief in others, and they usually played at least one Christmas song, forgoing originals for the most part.

Here’s a video from the night of Arkells and Lights doing the 80s hit Arkells have made famous again at their shows:


The weird thing about a show like this is that it does attract such an odd crowd because it is such a random mix of Canadian musicians. While I was there for the best of Canadian indie rock, the vast majority of people I stood around didn’t even seem to know who Broken Social Scene or The Arkells were, but were loving every second of Andy Kim and Honeymoon Suite. They also seemed annoyed by the presence of Canadian rapper Buck65, while they politely clapped for R&B singer Dru.

As my luck would have it, I ended up next to a group of annoying 30 year old club girls in heels and their former jock/current lawyer boyfriends who were super drunk and loud through the whole show, standing in front of my view and being obnoxious the whole time until they got what they wanted – Sam Roberts. After he performed they took off, thankfully. I hope someone tells them Sam does entire shows where they can see only him instead of 30 other artists they don’t give a shit about.

Beyond that though, it was an awesome night and I felt lucky to be there watching so many greats perform together. Every other song seemed to be a collaboration between two of my favorites, so that was worth it. Arkells singing with Lights, Brendan Canning and The Coppertone, Sam Roberts singing with Kevin Drew, Sarah Harmer singing with Max Kerman (where he did something totally embarrassing for her by pointing out what a crush he had on her in high school – never make a lady feel old in front of an audience).

It ended with a big singalong onstage with everyone, where they let off streamers on the crowd and announced they had raised quite a significant chunk of change for the cause that night. There wasn’t a whole lot of good banter (except for when Kevin and Brendan came out to introduce Honeymoon Suite and were hilarious, saving it from the obnoxious radio personalities that were doing most of the intros), but it was clear that everyone was there because they respect Andy and care about the cause. It made me feel very proud of Canadian music and the community we have here, yet again.

Slightly odd was that after everyone left the stage, one of the radio personalities came out and said that if we wait around they will come back out, they just needed a 15 minute break to cool off – which seemed weird since there was at least 30 musicians rotating so someone could have kept playing while others took a break. Anyhow, maybe a third of the audience stuck around because of him saying that, waiting for more. It finally happened when Kevin wandered onstage telling us he was told there would be a jam, but no one else was there. Andy and his musicians ended up coming back out and they played a few more songs together, and I’d say it was worth staying to hear Kevin make up a song called “Womb Juice”.


Preview of the New Sonic Boom in Kensington Market

Tomorrow morning Kensington Market will finally have a desperately needed record store. As much as I love the Market (I live where I do partly so I can be close to it) it hasn’t had much of anything to offer in the record department beyond Paradise Bound. Not a huge deal since She Said Boom and Soundscapes are within walking distance – but neither of them have a particularly extensive vinyl section- the former focusing more on books and the latter on CDs.

So when I heard the news that Sonic Boom was opening up a second shop in Kensington I was ecstatic. Especially since the news was announced when they told us the landmark location in The Annex was being forced to move across the block and share a space with Honest Eds, the same week I found out my closest record store Criminal Records was closing up shop forever. The thought of having what has always been my favorite place for vinyl in the city within walking distance of my apartment helped to soften the blow. Not only that but this shop would ditch the CDs and replace it with vintage furniture and clothing, in true Kensington Market style. I couldn’t be happier.

Sonic Boom’s Annex location was one of the first record stores I ever set foot in back in 2004, and  it was the first place that made me realize moving to Toronto was the best decision I ever made. I have nothing but great memories in that store and it breaks my heart to see it go, even if it is just moving down the street.

I was lucky enough to get an early look at the new location Monday night from owner Jeff Barber, who showed me the space and talked of plans to keep the beloved Sonic Boom in-store tradition alive in both locations, hoping to make use of the patio space at this location during Pedestrian Sundays with outdoor performances. He said the first in-store at the new Annex location will likely be Pete Bjorn and John, which I am super excited for.

He also noted that the new Kensington space will have vintage 70s and 80s stereo equipment for sale, showing me a few examples:

The walls of the store are painted in stripes of orange and pale green to match the original location and lined with records on display, 7 inches will be along the middle wall above their section and the LPs will be all across the back. It is going to look gorgeous. The vintage furniture had not yet arrived when I was there and he noted it will take time to build that section up, but it will be in the front, used to display the stereo equipment for sale, with t-shirts along the walls.

The space is not huge – no where near the size of the current Annex location – but it is perfect for what they need, slightly larger than Rotate This and Criminal Records. Jeff pointed out that a lot of his display cases were bought from Criminal Records closing sale, and how both stores leaned on each other during their mutual bad news.

I asked about the decision to have a vinyl only store and he noted that they discussed it for a while trying to figure out what percentage of CD’s would work, but in the end having a small CD section seemed somewhat pointless. He left it up to the staff to decide what they were interested in, and everyone felt all vinyl was the way to go. They also wanted to make sure the store would be affordable, rather than the typical 15$ and up price tag you will find vinyl here for as low as 3$ – 4$.

He also mentioned how the plan for a store in the Market was in the works before the frustrating situation in the Annex happened, noting how the lease was coming up for renewal so he wanted to have a back up plan.

“All my friends and coworkers were like, ‘ohh we’ll re-sign, we’ll re-sign, no problem’  and I was like ‘you know what, I just want to be prepared just in case’, and I think even if we did re-sign that we could also make a small satellite store in Kensington.”

His gut feeling was right, as they not only didn’t re-sign but the owner didn’t even give him a chance to beat out the offer they accepted from Dollarama to buy the space, after eleven years of being a loyal and respectful tenant.

The funny part – the new Kensington location used to be a dollar store.

Be sure to stop by 201 Augusta Avenue tomorrow between 11am and 9pm to welcome Jeff and the team to the neighborhood and buy some vinyl – the selection looks great – a masterfully curated independent rock/pop section along with dedicated sections for jazz, r&b, soul and international music.

This location is open from 11am to 9pm seven days a week, and it is most definitely my new home away from home.


Photos: Camping in Niagara

Every summer I spend a weekend back home camping with my fam. It has been how my parents spend their vacation time since I was a little kid (they are not full of wanderlust like I am, unfortunately).

Since Osheaga got back to me too late (one week before?!) to properly plan a trip to Montreal, I headed south to camp last weekend. So now instead of photos of Broken Social Scene, Hey Rosetta, Sweet Thing, Death From Above 1979 and The Flaming Lips I bring you photos of my dog, and a whole lot of nature, taken mostly on a walk around the lake. Enjoy.


Come Up To My Room

No not my room, get your mind out of the gutter.
The Queen West hot spot hotel known as the Gladstone houses the rooms I’m talking about. In their seventh year running, this alternative design show never fails to impress. This is the show where the curators give the artists and designers free reign on a particular room or space and the curator is not allowed to see the room until the event begins. That is the way art should be done. No boundaries or limitations, the creators free to express their vision exactly as they visualize it. This year included 11 rooms, 14 public space installations and over 50 designers. I thought all the installations were interesting but some definitely resonated with me more than others.

Here are some (low quality camera) pics of my favorites:

This was a room with video installations being projected onto the walls and floor, the images changed every minute or so.

Rose posing in front of part of the carnival game installation.

This room had an empty bed surrounded by lanterns hanging from a tree with cryptic displays inside them (the crappy camera actually worked well to add to the creepy effect of this installation).

The tub in the bathroom of the Jar room.

This was easily my favorite.

Shelves full of found items, and if you wanted anything you just traded in something of yours for it.

Notes were left with every item, some literally describing the item, some more poetic.

Rose found something she had been meaning to buy, and decided to trade for it.

The artist was happy she decided to participate.

This was the main part of the carnival display: a game of plinko!

This was part of the white room.

There was a room filled with anonymous quotes, which immediately made me happy.

By far the prettiest and most intricate room had a bed set up so onlookers could get the full effect.

Rose willingly jumped in to snap some pics.

As we were leaving I felt regret for not participating in the lost and found trade, and went back for a little plaid item I had spotted earlier.

In all its unwrapped glory:

It was a great event and one I always look forward to and highly recommend. My only advice is don’t make the mistake of going on party night when it is packed. People were cut off from coming in, and that is really annoying. It also makes it really hard to get around to see the different rooms comfortably when there are crowds of people just standing around drinking in the small space.

Anyhow, I look forward to more Gladstone art events in the future, and will be bringing them to the blog as always. And with a much better camera next time- I promise!