The bands that played represented the up-and-coming, the outrageously entertaining, and the acclaimed powerhouses that drive this city in its constant stridence towards recognition in the international music industry, a position we hold proudly. Bands such as Ice Cream, Light Fires, The Cruelty Party, and Hooded Fang, all of which played Thursday night, epitomize this city’s musical pulse, a heartbeat that the Drake has so vehemently supported for the past decade.
Ice Cream’s female dualism is not a new approach, the idea in and of itself is nothing groundbreaking, but their artistry is something to be respected. They are, simply put, very not mainstream. They could, in fact, be described as nightmarish in the quality of their music. The pair created the sort of proto-punk I would expect from musicians in the universe created in Blade Runner, and without a doubt the rainy evening encouraged this feeling. I felt like we were being serenaded by robots.
When the duo left the stage the intimate birthday crowd wasn’t quite up to dancing, but the party started with the arrival of the tall and intimidating figure of Light Fires’ front (wo)man, or gentlelady as she likes to be called, Regina, who strut about the stage on heels (incorporating fantastic dance moves, by the way, that other girls tried to emulate later on in the evening but to little success) in a manner that most women would find difficult and/or impossible to achieve. Her music came from mixes created both pre- and on-stage, and incredible vocals.
By the time The Cruelty Party left their little cubby hole beside the stage (the opposite side of which held members from Hooded Fang) the crowd had been well and truly warmed up. There was an element of Black Flag-esque arrogance to vocalist Alphonse, but instead of stealing the spotlight, the band created the aura of that badass who you might complain about, but secretly admire greatly. Their arrogance did not take away from their music, which verged on hard core rock and punk, admonishing the crowd and venue itself in true punk fashion.
And then came Daniel Lee and his rag-tag group of musicians, differing from Phedre in most members, and entirely in sound. Though Lee’s vocals remain the same, think the laziness of Julian Casablancas and Jon Fratelli mulched up together in a food processor and you’d get something similar to Lee’s voice, the music itself is markedly different. Instead of the emphasis on electronics and the chaos of vocals, we have structure and purpose as opposed to more experimental stuff. There’s not only something to be said for a musician who can range from baritone to the more common tenor, but true respect must be awarded the musician who can wrangle two bands at once without becoming mundane.
At the end of the night I think it’s fair to say that everyone was exhausted, and it wasn’t even that late for a Thursday! True to form, the Drake managed to throw a rockin’ great birthday for itself, celebrating another year of bringing incredible music to Torontonians by, well, bringing incredible music to Torontonians.
Emily Fox | @foxyfoxe