Arriving sleep deprived and hungover to the Toast Collective, I plopped into one of the venue’s armchairs, closed my eyes, and listened to the chatting and laughter in the friendly space while I waited for the show to start. I soon heard an Australian-accent in the mix say something like, “I guess I’ll go up now.” Lifting my head, I saw Simi Lacroix unceremoniously take the stage.
A pre-recorded electro-boogie tune started playing through the speakers and the solo artist from Brisbane launched into the powerful pop vocals of his first song. His voice, effortlessly hitting notes in his falsetto range, sounded even better live than it does on his releases. He stuck to vocals for almost the entire set, except for a live guitar solo during his track “Runnin.’” His instrumentals were extremely catchy, featuring intricate layerings of synth rhythms and melodies. Simi’s undeniably ‘80s pop sound was complimented by his Simon Le Bon-like moves, grooving the whole set and underscoring his lyrics with passionate gestures.
Up next was local indie group Cruel Sport. Their simplistic soft rock, with its interesting guitar work, creative drum beats, and dreamy vocal harmonies from front person Christine and drummer Eleanor, brought the room into a mellow atmosphere. The band had a slip-up during the intro to their song “july” to which the crowd, in typical Toast Collective fashion, responded with a supportive round of applause. Cruel Sport restarted the song and redeemed themselves through a then-flawless performance.
The venue had become quite packed by the time new band Olivia’s World began their set. Their front person, coincidentally also from Brisbane, sang with a sweet, powerful voice and talked nonchalantly to the crowd between songs, joking in a thick Australian accent that she was from the Brisbane in Ontario. The group played their upbeat indie pop rock tracks — one of which was about the frontperson’s cat — with incredible energy. Because of a malfunction with the sound system, the lead guitar was much quieter than the rest of their instruments. The songs were still strong despite essentially missing their lead.
The last act of the night was local pop rock duo Nice Apple. Members Lauren and Gal traded between drums and guitar every two songs — all the while swapping vocal duties — displaying their multi-instrumental and vocal talents. The pair also displayed their ability to make interesting, inventive music out of the bare-bones sound of limited instrumentation through a combination of unique and catchy guitar riffs, energetic drumming and quirky lyrics.
I must admit that my favourite act of the night was Simi Lacroix, whose brilliance and eccentricity Vancouver will miss when he soon returns to Brisbane (Australia, not Ontario). That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Cruel Sport, Olivia’s World, and Nice Apple, and recommend going to see these local indie rock and pop talents live.