Tour Stories: Such Gold in Toronto

I recently finished up a road blog from the Such Gold tour with Living With Lions in Canada for Property Of Zack, and I’d like to post an excerpt from part two of the blog with some pictures that I took. Part one of the blog can be viewed here and the full second part will be posted at Property Of Zack within the next few days.

 

Day 6 – 05/25/11 – Toronto – Sneaky Dee’s

My alarm woke me up at 11AM, but I fought consciousness until Noon. I got up and dressed, grabbed my leftover sandwich from the night before, and took a walk in search of a gas station to acquire a drink. I walked the road the hotel was on and located a gas station on the main drag, just on the other side of a large Ford dealership. Drink in hand, I walked back through the dealership’s property, and upon reaching the van, pulled my camping chair out to enjoy a sit outside.

The sun was struggling to breach through the clouds, and I feared that the nice warm day in Toronto I had been anticipating would end up being a cool, cloudy and rainy disappointment. Around 2PM, Devon booked the room, and Skylar went upstairs to take a shower before we headed into the city. I was eager to leave to ensure we could get loaded into the venue and I could get on a streetcar before rush hour and the rain hit.

Toronto is like a second home to me. I spent the best year of my life living and going to school in downtown Toronto, and even had an apartment two blocks north of the venue, Sneaky Dee’s, so I knew the area like the back of my hand. Sneaky Dee’s, apart from being a solid venue, is also the best mexican restaurant in the city, where I’ve spent countless nights enjoying the food and local brews. I formulated a plan to take a streetcar into downtown, walk down Yonge towards Dundas and Queen, walk Queen west, then up Spadina through Chinatown, through the Kensington Market and finally back to Sneaky Dee’s. It would be a perfect romp through my old stomping grounds.


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At 2:30PM I hopped into the driver’s seat and took the QEW onto the Gardiner Expressway, another highway I’ve traveled on countless times. I decided to take the scenic route, taking us past the Spadina exit and further west up Jarvis St. instead. I took a left on Gerrard St., where I had my first apartment in the Neill-Wycik Building, and then up Church and down Carlton and College, essentially following part of my old bike route to school and back.

We managed to get a parking spot right outside of Sneaks – as I pulled into the spot I forgot to put the bus in park, and it slowly rolled into the back of a Honda minivan. The van wasn’t fucked up, but there was a serious dent in the rear door. Thankfully there weren’t any witnesses or any paint marks due to the height of the bus, and we were able to park far enough away to provide space for two other cars to park in between, so we wouldn’t be suspect. Somehow we avoided a potentially hairy situation.


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With the van parked, my first order of business was to get lunch up in “The Annex” neighborhood of Bloor St., at my favorite Sushi restaurant, New Generation. Devan and Skylar joined, and on the walk up Bathurst towards Bloor we passed my old apartment – 655 Bathurst, a dark, tile-floor basement apartment my best friend and former roommate Chris and I shared for a few long spring and summer months in 2007.


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I noticed a large amount of new businesses in the Annex, but all the old standby’s like Sonic Boom and Honest Ed’s were still there. At New Generation, I had an amazing $6 lunch special consisting of 6 california rolls and 4 pieces of nigiri with soup and salad. Skylar got a vegetarian sushi set, and Devon tried a fried chicken dish, which was extremely similar to the fried pork dishes we ate in Japan. All of the food was perfect, exactly as I had expected.


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On our walk back to Sneaky Dee’s, the weather started to turn sour, and it began to sprinkle. At Sneaks, we found Living With Lions in the back dining area. Allana told us that food would be half-price for the bands, and we were supposed to be loading in, but the promoter hadn’t arrived yet. At 5:30, we started lugging the equipment up two flights of steep stairs to the 2nd floor venue, and into a tiny back room. The sound girl informed us the first band would be at 7:30 and we were on soon after, giving me a 2 hour window to see the city.

I took a left out of Sneaks and jumped on the first eastbound streetcar I saw. The driver informed us that the line would be deviating from it’s normal route across College and instead going down Spadina to Dundas, which actually worked out for the better for me. I exited the streetcar at Yonge-Dundas Square, a major hub for vehicle, pedestrian and public transit, and the site of the Eaton Centre (a giant mall) and a Times Square-like renovation which was completed in 2008.


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Outside the Eaton Centre, I paused and soaked in all the familiar sights and sounds of the busy intersection. I put my favorite Gaslight Anthem record “’59 Sound” on my iPod and countless memories started to rush back as I walked south on Yonge. I smelled the stale air rushing up from the subway below, exhaust fumes mixed with fresh brewed coffee, street meat being grilled on every corner, and b.o. from Queen St. crust punks.


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On Queen St. I found my favorite bench in Nathaniel Phillips Square, and sat and faced the iconic Toronto City Hall. This was my favorite hang-out spot in the city. I reminisced about the countless afternoons I spent here, dining on well-dressed veggie dogs and “chunky fries” from Steve’s Catering, a local grease truck. Had my stomach not been filled with sushi I can guarantee I’d have stuffed myself with dogs and fries. I thought about how drastically my life had changed not only since I left my Toronto apartment, but since the last time I had even visited the city.

I ended my time at City Hall and continued down Queen St., across University and into the shopping district. I saw the large wooden doors to the Ultra Supper Club, where one night I drunkenly danced with my roommate Chris and Paris Hilton (yes, the Paris Hilton), while the now deceased DJ AM spun in the booth only a few feet in front of us. Further down I saw the Rivoli, the bar where I enjoyed my first legal drink on my 19th birthday, and the legendary Horseshoe Tavern, where I saw Moneen and Walter Schreifels play with Attack In Black at their “Marriage” record release show.

My walk continued up Spadina St., past my favorite street meat vendor, through the sights and smells of upper Chinatown and down Augusta St. into the Kensington Market, containing some of the best vintage clothing stores, restaurants, cafes, and produce markets in the city. I saw the former site of the Adrift skate shop, where I saw Fucked Up play in the back room. Augusta St. brought me right back to College, about half a block from Sneaky Dee’s. I completed my journey in about an hour. It felt great – almost perfect, but I still wish I had more time.

I was really hoping that Chris would be able to come out to the show, but unfortunately he was at an Every Time I Die double feature in Kitchener, ON. I can’t blame him since ETID is one of his favorite bands, but it sure was poor timing. I was sure we’d see each other again soon though.


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Back at Sneaky Dee’s, I checked in upstairs and received my bracelet, and then went back out to the bus to write to get some writing done. As the daylight started to die, the sky opened up and down came the rain I had anticipated all day. I was glad the rain didn’t come down during my walk, but I would have suffered through it regardless.

When I checked my phone for the time, I realized it was getting close to our set time so I decided to go back upstairs. Apparently the band before us had only a couple of songs left, so my timing was on point. The back gear room was a mess when we went to grab our gear – we had to sift through the opener’s stuff which had been piled in front of our guitars and amps.

We got set up and played another great set. Skylar’s vocals were in our faces through the monitors and although he was more hoarse than usual he still sounded good. The venue was definitely crowded, fulfilling my dream of playing a packed show at Sneaks.

After our set I tried to figure out what the deal was with the half-price food – I went downstairs to place an order and met George, who brought me back upstairs to meet the promoter, Travis. They conversed with the bartender, and I gave them my order – a King’s Crown. I thought from the conversation that the order had been placed but wasn’t exactly sure – I asked, “Are we good?” and everyone said “Yes”, so I assumed the food would be coming out shortly.

When LWL had finished their set our food had still not come out, and it was time to load out so the after show dance party could start. LWL was blocking our access to the trailer, forcing us to wait upstairs with our gear on the dance floor, while dubstep blared through the speakers and hipster idiots writhed around us.

Finally, with LWL’s trailer packed and van moved we were able to load out in the pouring rain. With our trailer full, I realized that our food had still not yet come, and now I was starving, wet and pissed off. I stormed upstairs and found Travis at the top. I grabbed him by the shoulders and yelled, “WHERE IS OUR FOOD!?” Stunned, he went and made absolutely sure that this time the order was placed, and 20 minutes later, a giant, steaming pile of nachos was delivered to us. I apologized to Travis and explained that I was starving and frustrated.

The King’s Crown is a formidable plate of nachos topped with beans, beef, green and jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, jack cheese, red chili sauce, and globs of sour cream and guacamole. Devon and I devoured nearly the entire plate, but could not fully tame the Crown. On my way out of the venue a girl commented on my Aficionado hoodie, and we got to talking. It turned out that her and her friends were close with Living WIth Lions, and we all went out to their van and met up with Landon. Eventually Franz and Dan from Bitter Hearts came up and joined the conversation, and when I turned around to see what Landon and the girls were up to, he had the 4 girls crowded around him in the van. It’s the chin – it’s irresistible.

Around midnight, Devon came up to us and the look on his face meant he was ready to get the hell out of Toronto and back to the hotel, and I agreed it was time. Devan and Chloe stayed back with Skylar, who was pretty much shit-faced. They would meet up with us later, after our friend Joe came in from Buffalo. Joe would be doing merch for us for the next couple of shows.

Devon and I jumped back to the bus, and off we went into the night. The CN Tower, lit up in a colorful night-time display, followed us out of downtown and onto the highway, and once more I said my goodbyes to the city I still hold so close to my heart.

 

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