Photo: Taavi Muide
Wednesday, 14 September 2022 10:00
Eesti Elu / Estonian Life Online
If you're looking for confirmation on your information about your transportation from Spadina Station, you're in the wrong place... However, if you're in the area and want the scoop on some stellar parties, then keep reading!
We've had to wait patiently to celebrate the 50th anniversary—now titled TC 50+2—of Tartu College, the student residence and Estonian community hot spot at Bloor and Spadina. But now, we'll have two nights to use our pent-up energy.
What's fuelling all of this partying? The raw, unrestrained funk of Estonia's Lexsoul Dancemachine and the Shuffle Demons from Toronto.
On the evening of Wednesday September 21st, these two bands will storm through three *free* 30 minute performances in the heart of Toronto. At 7:00 PM, they'll start grooving at Tartu College. Then, the musicians and a few contest winners will hop on a double decker City Sightseeing bus and make their way south to Kensington Market, before finally riding on to stir things up on Queen Street West. For details on the contest and specific locations, so you can follow the bus or wait for it to come by Tour de France style, visit www.estonianmusicweek.ca
Though the TC 50+2 celebrations carry on throughout the weekend, the last musical component will be a gig on Friday September 23rd at The Axis Club (722 College Street, M6G 1C4)
. Starting at 8:00 PM, beloved singer-songwriter Vaiko Eplik will lead the night as master of ceremonies. Estophiles will particularly appreciate his rendition of his favourite Estonian diaspora songs.
General admission tickets cost $25 and student tickets are $20, available from Eventbrite.
Presenting the concert are Tartu College, Estonian Museum Canada / VEMU, and its project Estonian Music Week, with major funding coming from the Estonian Foundation of Canada and sponsorship from Northern Birch Credit Union.
What makes this musical pairing so ideal is how much the two bands have in common. At face value, their music is founded on a certain hedonism, allowing you to drop your cares to the wayside. This manifests itself in their zany outfits. Lexsoul Dancemachine has matching tracksuits, as seen on the cover of their 2020 album Lexplosion II.
The Shuffle Demons have suits designed with Keith Haring-esque patterns by Toronto-based artist Kurt Swinghammer and refreshed by Alison Young, “[incorporating] images from some of our songs...” Lexsoul Dancemachine's singer, Robert Linna, remarked that they look like futuristic people from Back to the Future Part II.
It's serendipitous that the bands have a common association with buses, too. The Shuffle Demons created local lore when they recorded their hit “Spadina Bus,” a funk-hip-hop fusion “that really gets the crowds going.”
As described by Robert Linna, their band has had a colourful experience playing on a bus before. He explains, “I had a vision for a long time, about playing live on the back of a truck driving through the city, where the crowd would be on bicycles following the truck. Like a rolling concert. The bus idea kind of evolved from that. We had just released Lexplosion II and were thinking about promo stuff... and this is where having a great manager really pays off: things started happening really fast and the next day we had a bus, a driver, a sound system, and approval from Tallinn City Council. 3.5 hours of non-stop music on a beautiful summer day, with people cycling along, waving on the streets, and listening on their balconies. At some point we even had a police escort!”
They both have an exuberant stage presence. In Lexsoul Dancemachine's collaboration with Cory Wong, “Money,” the mischievous, bouncy guitar and drum patterns give you a good sense of how this presence comes to be. According to guitarist Jürgen Kütner, “The Lexsoul guys are big fans of all things Vulfpeck... and for me personally, I really clicked with Cory’s style of guitar playing... especially his magic right-hand work. It started as a sort of joke, that we should get Cory to play on “Money” because it sounded so unlikely to ever happen. A little later, our manager Henrik got in touch with us again and said that he had talked with Cory’s team and that they liked the track! So suddenly, it was on and we couldn’t believe it. Cory absolutely funked it to pieces and he actually did two solos for us. We liked them both so much that we put them both in the song layered on top of each other.”
Comparatively, for the Shuffle Demons, exuberance is enabled by resounding saxophones, drums, and double bass. The first two elements are a product of their street band origins, with no access to amplification.
And they both have a connection to Estonia. Lexsoul Dancemachine, of course, is from Estonia. The Shuffle Demons, on the other hand, performed in Estonia just shortly before independence was restored in 1991. Saxophonist Rich Underhill and drummer Stich Wynston speak of how it was “a great opportunity to celebrate the dawn of a new era with our Estonian hosts,” including a street celebration with fans and a waterworks show from some fireboats.
100,000 rubles were paid out for their concert, in “big stacks of five, 10 and 20 ruble notes” due to the imminent currency switchover. With shopping bags of money in hand, they “injected it back into the local economy, buying souvenirs, artwork and even donating some back to our guides.” Whimsy continues for these bands even off-stage.
Both bands are enthusiastic about playing on the same bill, with Robert Linna particularly excited about being part of Estonia's “big cultural reach”, about “Estonians keeping in touch worldwide”, and meeting new audiences like us.
Get your tickets and invite your friends while you still can!