Toronto, 2015

John had convinced me to go to Toronto with him for the Aftermath festival that took the place of Kinetik. We both got tickets on Porter Airlines and timed it so that we would arrive and depart the Toronto airport at about the same times.

Thursday August 27, 2015

My flight left at 9am, so I was up at 6 to get myself woken up, fed and on the way to the airport by T on time. I even remembered to take out my garbage before leaving, not wanting to leave it in the kitchen garbage can for a long weekend while I was away. The recycling scavengers were out as I was rolling my new Samsonite carry on toward the bus stop. It was a lovely morning, 20C and sunny, but I made a mistake about which way to walk up to Broadway to get to the bus stop and I missed the one that I was hoping to catch. Waiting at the stop for the next one, a cyclist was begging for money, asking me for a dollar, and an old guy (wearing mismatched patterns on his shorts and top) was geeking out about my suitcase, he was really excited about it, I was glad that it was all still shiny and new for it's first trip. :-) I got the bus at just before 7:30 and lucked out with a short wait at the Orange line stop, only 4 minutes (it can be 10-15 sometimes, I'd used up that usually built in time missing the bus). A quick transfer to the Blue line and then onto the shuttle bus to the E terminal. The security line for my gate, off to the end of the concourse, was closed since it was pretty dead in there. I went over to the central security area, and there was no line at all, I had to fumble with my docs since I got to the guard faster than expected. I still opted out of being scanned though, my Utilikilt worked better for the groping than pants (have to put one leg forward at a time though). I filled up my water bottle on the way to my gate, and checked in with the desk to show them my passport since I checked in online. We boarded soon after I sat down, a bit early. I'd been a bit worried about my suitcase's dimensions, most of the airlines recently lowered the max carryon dimensions and mine was just over due to the sticking out wheels, but it fit sideways in the overhead bin with no problems height wise. I was handed a snack of apple chips, nice and healthy, but then got over sugared by the flight attendant who kept calling me hon and sweetie and honey and sweetheart.

Customs in immigration were a breeze, I don't think I even bothered to use the Nexus kiosk because there was no line. I got past the secure part and found a place to wait for John, opening up the flight tracker on my phone so I could get a sense of how close his plane was. He ended up only about 15 minutes behind me. He walked out chatting with another DC person who was going to the festival, Christof from Velvet Acid Christ. We ended up chatting with him through the new (finally open!) pedestrian tunnel under the channel to the city, but split up there to take our own cabs - John and I were not in the official event hotel, instead staying in the Marriott around the corner where our friend Brian was also staying. We'd been running into him all over and started a running joke that we needed to start a band. :-) The taxi driver confused me a bit, crossing Yonge St to pull around the back of the hotel, but it turned out that's where they'd put the main lobby entrance, though we ended up using the side door that opened out closer to Yonge most of the time. Busker Fest was also setting up along quite a few blocks of Yonge, so that was causing traffic to get re-routed a lot. We were a bit too early to check in, but they were happy to hold our bags for us while we went out for lunch.

Siobhan worked in a nearby office building, so I'd made plans to meet up with her for lunch at 12:30. Axel was able to join us as well as we found when we hustled up to meet them at Pogue Mahone Irish Pub, running a tiny bit late since the walk took longer than expected with the festival set up in the way. It was kind of amusing that we were surrounded by downtown power suits while we were dressed in corp goth and goth casual - the host casually offered us the private room and we took it. :-) It turned out to be a free standing enclosure in the middle of the pub, but it was cozy and worked okay to keep the noise out. It was good to catch up with Sio and Axel, they weren't planning to go to the music festival due to other plans that weekend so this ended up being the best time to connect with them. It was also the occasion to relax and settle into this vacation thing for John and me, I had a nice pint of cider I think. :-)

Siobhan had to head back to work, so we settled up and parted ways. John and I meandered back up Yonge St to hit up Northbound Leather, since I'd had my eye on some shorts as well as possibly treating myself to a new top for my upcoming birthday. Unfortunately the store was under renovation and they had the whole front half closed up. This severly limited the amount of items they could have out on display, no shorts for women at all, and I think only one new to me and interesting leather top (they still had my last purchase up on the wall, and a dress in the same style that tempted me for a second). They had mostly men's stuff out and a few toys. I tried on a few latex pieces to see if they'd go with my skirt, but no luck at all. I was sad, but my bank balance heaved a sigh of relief. :-) I stopped by the Scotiabank ATM on the corner there to grab some cash for the weekend as well.

Walking back toward the hotel to get into our room, we passed by Nick's Sporting Goods and Surplus and I pulled John in to see if I could find some pieces to supplement my Furiosa costume for Halloween. I was really tempted by the rifle slings, but they were just a bit too much for a costume (regretting it now, they would have come in handy at Dungeon Bar Crawl for slinging my Nerf gun!). I did find some surplus leather military gaiters that I grabbed. John was tempted by the Canadian and Russian t-shirts, and one of the crotchety old guys behind the counter offered to sell him the whole store - apparently he wanted to retire. :-) Finally got back to the hotel and up to our room in time to start getting ready for the 6pm door time for Aftermath.

I took a gamble and wore my platform ankle boots and was able to make the walk over to the Phoenix with no mishaps, though I did take advantage of John's arm once or twice. We'd misjudged our food intake a bit, but had seen that there would be food on offer at the venue, so after getting in, past the smoking/patio area and coat check, and up some stairs to the cavernous main space, we checked out the vending options. I had packed my suitcase pretty tight and wasn't in the mood to carry around a t-shirt all night (or put it on to hide my outfit), so I just browsed the merch tables. We ran into Justin and Kym fairly quickly, it was good to catch up with them as well as the yarn braided Ottawa lady who I think might have lived in Toronto when I was living there 15 years ago, but my memory was failing me on that id. We had a plate full of fish tacos and I stuck with gin and tonics for the night, they were on the weaker side with the metered pouring, I had three. We ended up missing the first band, the sets were super short. I made sketchy notes on each band to try and jog my memory after the fact:
Peter Turns Pirate: missed.
Alter Der Ruine: the lead singer was wearing a snazzy suit jacket but their voice was weak. The lady keyboardist was rocking out as well as the drummer on the last song.
Ego Likeness: loved her voice!!! We ended up chatting with Donna a bit outside in the smoking area, she's a sweatheart.
FGFC820: it was fairly generic EBM this time around, I remember them as being much more aggro when I saw them at Kinetic (and another festival?). They had the guitarist from Ego Likeness on drums, a cookie monster sounding guy on keyboards, and threw a can at one point in a surprising burst of aggro. We also talked a bit with the head guy from this band, the festival wasn't that huge attendance wise so the bands were really accessible. In any case he has mellowed a bit, though he has a huge well of bitterness over his (recent?) divorce that was overflowing onto everything.
William Control: my main impression was that he was a wannabe gothic Elvis. The voice mix was off? He was pretty talented with a rope dart though.
We took a break here to go outside for some air and to talk to Donna, and the guy from FGFC820 gave John a pouch of useful military type stuff. I was wracking my brains to think of a person I knew in Boston who would count as a band promoter who I could put in touch with the musicians I was talking to, I'd love for them to book some Boston dates, but I was coming up blank - I know lots of club night DJs but the music scene is just outside of my regular haunt that I couldn't bring up a name.
The Dreaming: they played a lot of Stabbing Westward since it was pretty much SW v 2.0. I hadn't been big into them back in the day, but i enjoyed it. The lead singer was a sweetheart, they had to deal with some oil on the stage needing to be cleaned up ASAP before anyone slipped. The female bass player had amazing white and black hair.
Bruderschaft: it was getting chilly now, I was regretting not bringing a sweater. The lead singer was a woman with a severe haircut, wearing a nice tie and shirt, and a short skirt over opaque tights, I loved her look. She had a good voice, midrange? The guy from FGFC was surprisingly sober for how much whisky he'd consumed (apparently in the old days it would be enough to black out, in the order of two bottles), he joined the band to sing, no vocal effects (cookie monster guy too). Daniel Myer joined them on stage for a classic medley, including Lucretia from Sisters. It was the first time the lady was singing with them, she made it.
Leather Strip: the white haired keyboardist was pretty tired, but the singer was a white bearded energetic powerhouse, he rocked my face off. My feet were too sore to dance much, I was really tired by this point (1am or so). I'd also been introduced to C. from Chicago who was a very athletic dancer, and her friend who incorporated belly dance elements into her style. We also kept running into Kristof from VAC, he was hanging out in front of the Holiday Inn as we went past.

I kept turning my ankles on the walk back to the hotel, despite having been fine dancing throughout the evening. We both needed some more calories by this point and made a bee line for the 7-11 when we spotted it on a corner. I was also hoping that getting some more calories in me would aid in warming up, I was a bit chilled. John heard a suspicious pop as we walked in, but I didn't, too focussed on finding food I guess. I found a pack of cashews and tore into them while John went straight for the stuff under the heat lamps. I found myself not a fan of the extra steps needed to get around to the back street entrance to the Marriot, I was really happy to take off my platform boots and jump in a hot shower. 2am.

Fri Aug 28, 2015

I wasn't a fan of the 9am alarm, but John had to take a conference call. I used some of the time for a hot bath after checking email and Facebook didn't take up all the time. Then he had another call (working holiday for him) after we got dressed, so we didn't end up leaving the room until after noon. We went straight to Timmie's to grab breakfast food and to have an unplanned serious talk, sitting up in a mezzanine type area. After that we hit up the bank machine again and I think John had to take another call as we were walking down toward Queen St. We walked through Busker Fair, it was fairly busy and this might have been when we stopped to listen to a band from Australia who had a great didgeridoo player. I should have grabbed a CD. :-/ The street was pretty much taken over by the booths of the fair, with some bands set up in little courtyards to the side. We finally meandered our way down to Queen and caught the street car across toward Parkdale to meet up with Steph for lunch.

I don't think I've managed to eat at Squirly's before, despite often hearing it come up as a good place for brunch or pints. We walked through the dark long main pub out to the patio and grabbed a seat in the shade, with Steph soon joining us. She'd just finished an aerials class and was quite ready to dig into food, and we were also peckish due to not having found a regular eating schedule on this trip yet (I think we met at around 2:30 to work around her class and our projected late wake up time). It was awesome to catch up with her, though sad that we couldn't meet up with Martin as well - they were going to be out of town the rest of the weekend while we were at the concert. The food was good, I'd definitely go back. I enjoyed the Pommie's farmhouse cider and the chicken curry a lot. Lunch was over all too soon and it was time to leave Steph to get ready for her trip and for us to head back toward the hotel. The 6pm door time was already annoying me. :-)

We window shoped our way back up to Yonge and College. I pulled John into Active Surplus and valiantly resisted buying anything, though I giggled at a lot of the signs. It was good that I popped in then, sharing stories of projects and Halloween costumes, as once I got back to Boston I heard that they were closing. :-( I also tried a few different vintage / used / consignment shops trying to find a sweater to bring to the club that evening to counteract the hyperactive air conditining. I finally found a plain black one that I could live with, despite the deep V at the front, hoping that keeping my arms and back of my neck warm would be enough. I was fun to poke around in Brava and Black Market again, and John was able to browse as well. We continued to make our way back, heading up Bay St I think, but I was beginning to realise that I needed some more food. We stopped at one of the many many many bubble tea shops that we'd passed and sat for a bit to enjoy the wifi and the rest along with the drink (it was also a bit warm). We stopped in at a salad bar made to order type place and grabbed salads to take back to the hotel room as well, eating on the nice arm chairs that they'd included in the room.

We were much more lackadasical about the door time in the end,missing the first few bands. I was a bit bummed that Kevorkian Deathcycle was on so early, I'd heard of them for years but never had a chance to see them in concert. The earlier sets each night were also pretty short, so we ended up missing 4 bands. :-/
We made it over to the Phoenix in time for Mr. Kitty. He was a total surprise, a young looking thin guy dressed all in white with strobes and coloured lights playing on him, and tonnes of vocal effects. I swear he sounded like three different people, one of whom was female, at times. My new sweater helped, but I was feeling a bit low energy this evening.
Ludovico Technique were scary post apocalyptic dudes with distorted vocals. We ended up going outside during their set and chatting with a Montreal based photographer for a while after she took our picture. The guys from Leaether Strip were out there too and we ended up chatting with them for a while after John asked for a picture with them. Nice dudes and it was understandable that the keyboardist was suffering from jet lag, they were heading back to Europe early the next day after a super short trip. They were also interested in hearing about Boston band promoters. :-)
Back inside for Tactical Sekt: oh my god, it was relentless industrial music, I did so much dancing! Brian delivered water to the dance floor so that John and I could keep going. :-) The guy from FGFC did another guest vocals stint with this band as well.
Velvet Acid Christ ended the evening, I think they were mostly drunk. Donna from Ego Likeness joined them on stage, there was a huge amount of band cross pollination at this festival. :-)
The crowd was bigger, I think the Friday night was easier for people to travel for, but I was glad that I'd made it for Thursday. I'd bought my plane tickets before the full schedule was announced and was a bit sad that I'd taken a day off for what ended up being advertised as just an add on club night on Sunday, granted with one of the DJs being from one of my favourite bands, but musician DJs can be a bit hit or miss. My alcohol consumption was lower tonight due to the aforementioned tiredness, I had most of a Strongbow (loving how easy it is to get cider in Toronto) and a gin and tonic.

Walking back to the hotel, a tipsy guy on the street yelled at me and John: "You two are very attractive!!!!" Um, thanks drunk dude. :-) Post concert food tonight was Pizza Pizza, I think it was another 2am hotel return this evening.

Saturday August 29, 2015

It was a bit of a slower start this morning, thankfully, with the first order of business being to check out the pool and hot tub. We left some messages for Brian asking him to join us, but no dice. There were a couple of guys in town for a wedding, it was funny to see them later in the day in tuxes rather than swim shorts. :-) I also swam a few laps, but mostly jetted out my aches in the hot tub. Back up to the room for a hot shower and we heard from Brian that his room mate was feeling ill hence why they didn't join us in the tub.

We walked over to Cora's for brunch, being led past some other Aftermathers as we went to ou table near the back (John didn't notice, too intent on getting some coffee down his gullet, but they stood out to me as a knot of black against the cheerful yellow walls). It was pretty busy but we were served our food quickly, our only wait was in line to pay the bill.

From there we walked (I was a bit obsessed with John's fitbit and how many steps he was getting in each day, dancing was counting for a lot!) down to Kensington Market for the festival's advertised Bazaar of the Bizarre. We went along College past Spadina, it was an easy walked. We stopped for gelato on the edge of the market and then started looking around for the advertised location. I was sadly feeling too full to take in samples at the cheese shops but I pointed them out longingly. :-) Turned out that we had to follow some other PiB to a space above another store, it wasn't too obvious though there was a sign when you got closer. We ran into Justin and Kym there as well I think, though kept failing to actually organise a dinner or anything with them. They ended up having to leave early to head back to Ottawa as well, but I was glad to see them for what time I did. The bazaar was a bit small, one square of tables in the middle of the room and some tables around the edges. It was a bit cramped as people filtered in, I think I was most interested in the necklaces on offer. John chatted with the DJ who was providing tunes and we grabbed a seat at the bar to rest and see if anything else would happen that was worth staying for. The drink I had looked good on paper but the bartender's skills weren't quite up to it, it was just sort of there. We didn't end up staying past having our drink, opting to head out to do some more shopping and grab some dinner on the way back to the hotel. I was happy to dive back into Courage My Love and John had fun checking out the trays of cuff links. We also went across the street to Dancing Days and Ego and I think that's where I found a random neat goth dress with a fluttery hem.

We walked through a bit of Chinatown as we headed back along Dundas, trying to decide on where to stop for dinner. We finally settled on Dim Sum King as I had some vague memories of going there for a group outing a long time ago. It was up multiple flights of stairs, opening up into a huge room, so it was also reminiscent of one of the places that I'd go in Boston. It was close to the end of the dim sum time and they were setting up for a huge (like 200 people maybe?) 95th birthday party, with most of the big room divided off and decorations going up and fancily dressed people coming in. We had a bit of a wait to get a table, but nothing too bad, and soon the carts started coming around with tempting food. :-) I made sure to snag steamers of shrimp and chicken, and also put in an order for sweet tofu for dessert (though I was so stuffed at this point that it was a chore to make a dent in the soft sweetness). It was pretty much past door time by the time we wrapped up eating, so back to the hotel to change and head to the venue it was.

I think they were running late, or had fewer bands or longer sets, but we only ended up missing two bands altogether and coming in for the last few songs by Mend. They were a neat ambient band, performing a low key set on stage surrounded by glowing red crystal stalagmites.
Justin had seen the next band, Squid Lid, in Ottawa and highly recommended them, they'd been why we'd rushed a bit to try and get there in time for them as the fourth band, and it totally paid off, I loved them. The music was danceable and the band was a joy to watch, they were dressed in UV reflective costumes with black light on them, in an orange and blue theme. One had a neat waist rig set up so that they could move around, and changed head dresses/masks with every song. They were odd and bizarre in the best sort of way and I'm not describing them well. Official description: Deep Sea Glow Creatures Exploring Gritty Electronic Groove. *hat tip* to Justin for the encouragement.
Gofight? was up next and continued the oddity with a horse and unicorn in those odd over the shoulder thong things dancing on stage, very random and not industrial at all in my opinion.
I'd heard a lot about 3Teeth from a local Boston DJ, they were very intense, I noticed the leather vest on one of the band members, but mostly the disturbing imagery projected behind them.
Conjure One was playing pretty music that I liked, but it was too slow - I was drifting off. :-/ There was only Haujobb left on the bill for the night and we'd both seen Daniel Myer tonnes before so we decided to head out rather than napping in a corner after a couple of songs had a soporific effect on us. :-)

I was hungry again, and wanted something for the hotel room (finally) so I popped into Shopper's Drug Mart to grab a box of granola bars. Then we stopped into the shwarma place on the corner for hummus for me and falafel for John. The guy serving things up behind the counter played at putting lots of onions on the take out platter when I had said I didn't want any. We were also not the most tipsy ones in there by a long shot. We were back at the hotel room by 1am this time around.

Sunday August 30, 2015

Cora's had worked out so well for breakfast the day before that we just went back again today, close by and decent food with fast service counts for a lot. We were winding down after a full weekend of awesome, so this was a slower day. I'd hoped to meet up with Justin and Kym for dinner or drinks this day but that was a no go, so my vague plan was to hit up the Black Hoof Cocktail Bar before heading to the evening venue of Velvet Underground. I'd recently found out that Velvet was closing right after this event, so I wanted to be sure to make it for this night, but I was also worried that they wouldn't be restocking their bar (spoiler alert: justified). So hitting up one of the best craft cocktail bars around before heading into a closing bar situation sounded like a good idea. It was also starting a bit later than the earlier concert nights, so we had some time to play with.

We got a bit gussied up since we wanted to have a nice dinner on our last night in Toronto and then walked down a few blocks to grab the streetcar across Dundas to explore that neighbourhood before going to Hoof, checking out restaurants for a place to eat as we went. We got off just before Ossington and walked up to it and down, checking out the new places that had gone in since I moved away. We were a bit early for dinner, some places weren't quite open yet, and one we walked into to check out the menu just wasn't calling to us, and we did a short detour to check out a jumble of a shop (maybe Lost and Found? I might have found the dress here instead). The Bellwoods brewery was tempting but too focussed on beer for me. Then we spotted Soos, a Malaysian fusion place with a modern flair. Neither of us had ever had Malaysian food so in we went. Such a good call, it was amazing. Their cocktail menu was inventive, there was a lychee martini that was very very good and so many other tempting things on the menu. The food choices weren't extensive but were well curated and we ended up sharing quite a few delicious small plates. I think we were the first diners to be seated but the small space pretty much filled up as we were eating. So glad that we randomly found this place.

I was still pretty set on hitting up Hoof, so after dinner we meandered up to Dundas again and I dragged John in. We sat at the bar, forgoing the patio option for the fun of watching the bartender work her magic. I went with mezcal this time I think, having a Smoke Angel. I love the decor in there, a white shabby chic esthetic with the bottles in mis-matched cabinets with warm up lighting. They didn't have a smoked meat leg on the counter this time, and had the door to the kitchen closed so I couldn't see any sausages being made this time, much more pleasant for my non mammal eating self. :-) It was a nice place to hang out, I ended up tempted into getting a second cocktail, just for planning ahead purposes of course. :-)

We finally dragged ourselves out of there and caught the streetcar back across to Yonge St and walked up the tail end of the Busker Fair to the hotel. We changed out of our fancy dinner clothes into dancing duds and caught a cab back to Velvet Underground. It wasn't hopping. We chatted a bit with some DC folks (Phoebe and Matt), but the bar didn't have any gin at all so I was out of luck in terms of getting a G&T. The DJ was just sort of there, the sound mix wasn't the best and you could tell that the staff had mentally left already. :-/ I dragged John out of there to check out Bovine Sex Club just down the street to see if it was still the quirky dive bar that I remembered. John lit up when we walked in and saw them setting up for karaoke and we settled in for the evening (they had gin, so I was happy). :-) It was fun getting to see and hear John sing, and I even danced to one of his songs. He may have been bribing the KJ, er tipping him. It was also a rock and roll themed night, so it was fun seeing the other patrons rocking out. It was pretty obvious who was a regular as well, it was neat people watching. :-) We ended up staying almost to last call and then rushing back to Velvet to catch the last song there. It was even more dead, and we found out later that people had decamped to another bar with actual alcohol available but we didn't get the update. :-/ Ah well, we had a blast at Bovine, so it was all good and the last night addition to the weekend ticket wasn't more than $10 added to the concerts. We caught a cab back to the hotel and were back by 2.

Monday August 31, 2015

We had lateish checkout and our flights weren't until after 4pm so we decided to check out a new breakfast place, Fran's around the corner from the hotel which had been luring me in with it's old school sign. The croissant scramble was okay, but it wasn't as good as Cora's. :-) We popped into the Timmie's for tea and coffee afterward to get our caffeine stores up. We decided not to risk being late to Billy Bishop Airport and grabbed a cab on the early side. That ended up being a good idea since there was a truck that had run out of gas on a busy street and it was blocking traffic and slowing things down a lot. There was a bit of a line at security and they were having people check their carry on bag sizes - I told the guy that mine was the same size as John's and they let me past without having to stuff it into the size checker and haul it out again. Phoebe and Matt were on John's flight back to DC and we ended up hanging out until my flight boarded (I was leaving half an hour earlier). I thought I could see Pathfinder, the tall ship I'd sailed on as a teen, docked as we were walking through the terminal. I took advantage of the free tea and lots of water. It was sad having to leave first, waving goodbye as I disappeared down the coridor to my plane.

I had a nice flight at least, reading and taking the almonds and OJ that they offered me as a snack. I did the Global Entry kiosk right the first time finally, but then got quizzed when I didn't go out the Global Entry lane (why I want to live in the USA, was I performing at Aftermath *sigh*). I had time, so I took the airport shuttle to the Blue line, transfered to the Orange and took the 101 home across B'way, with very little waiting at each transfer point (for once). I made it home just after 7.

Back to my diary page.