This past weekend saw The House of Vans pop up at 99 Sudbury Street in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood. The event spanned three days offering a community market, art instillations, a rad indoor skate park and live performances including a special appearance from Canadian cutie Mac Demarco.
It was a pretty mundane Friday morning at work, a 7am start no less, when an email from House of Vans pinged up on my phone and turned my day around. I was stoked to have been placed on the guest list for the Saturday night party which would see Toronto’s own DJ Bambii, as well as singer RALPH, take to the stage, before an exclusive performance by Mr Demarco himself.
I’ve always wanted to see Mac live, there’s just something about his cheeky charm and melodic sounds that I can’t get enough of, but sadly a less than full UK tour line-up, coupled with his popularity across the pond, has meant that I had never had the opportunity. That was until now.
Now, if you know me you’ll know I have a tiny bit of an obsession with Vans (a very healthy one!) and so to be able to get along to this exclusive evening event at the House of Vans no less was just the pièce de résistance.
I decided to grant my friend Grace (actually an old friend of my cousins, but I like to think my friend these days) the privilege of my +1, mostly ‘cause she’s a laugh and a half and we always have fun together. That and the fact she likes Mac Demarco too so it made sense.
We decided to head down to the venue 40 minutes early, thinking we could check out the community market and would be there with plenty of time as the House of Vans recommended this to guarantee entry.
All I can say is that we were lucky the weather had suddenly decided to become a little milder and raise a couple degrees from the -7 we have become accustomed to these last few months. We waited outside of the venue until 9:10pm, which was wild considering we were told the show started at 9:00pm!
It was worth the wait once we managed to flood into the venue. In true Vans style they had remodelled the indoor skate park into a super cool venue, with giant, glowing lanterns overhead illuminating patches of the vast room in shads of red and blue. People were mingling all around, drinking beers and chatting. There were fridges stocked with free Vitamin Waters (I’m assuming this was down to some sponsorship). Two bars aligned each side of the room, offering beer, wine and a variety of spirits. And then, I’ll be honest, there were also a lot of hotties (overwhelmingly so) which might have added to the atmosphere…
Armed with drinks in hand we perched ourselves atop a ledge, expecting the crowd to fill up drastically, and thinking we were pretty damn clever for securing such a great spot to see the show. Turns out, it was actually not quite the crowd we expected.
Looking back it makes a lot of sense. There were a tonne of VIP guests, skaters from within the city and further afield who had travelled in for the weekend, vendors who had been working on stalls all day, artists who had been exhibiting… this wasn’t a ‘show’ necessarily. This was a private party at which the musicians just happened to be playing.
RALPH opened up with some blissful melodies. I hadn’t heard her play before but after such an amazing opening I’ll for sure be checking her out again. I recommend you do too.
Following on Toronto-based DJ Bambii (aka Kristen Azan) blew the crowd away with some sick, dancey mixes, including a funky remix of Outcasts ‘Roses’ which really saw the crowd come into its own.
Now, if you ask me, I reckon House of Vans did a little bit of a fuck up on the set list. People danced their asses off and drank twice as much as before during Bambii’s party playlist- and a part of me wonders if this may have been suited for after Demarco’s set. Would it have been better to listen to his acoustic tunes and laugh and his humorous remarks, and then afterwards get wasted and dance? I think so… The other way around made it kind of hard to concentrate.
Don’t get me wrong, Mac was epic and I was so stoked to finally be able to see him live…and in such a good venue… and from such a cool spot. I just wish the majority crowd had been a little more into it.
Illuminated beneath a the hanging ‘House of Vans’ sign, he opened up with his classic ‘Salad Days’ before playing a couple of new songs from his up coming album ‘This Old Dog’. The show itself felt pretty casual, with DeMarco stopping between tracks to chat with the audience, relay anecdotes ad even ask: “hey, can you guys hear me?” The band changed it up from their usual show set list and provided something fresh for the event, including a cameo from a crowd member who played Mac’s guitar herself whilst he sang.
From stage diving into the throng of fans, skaters and party-goers in front of him, to letting as many people as possible flood onto the stage to enjoy the show from a different perspective, Mac certainly lived up to his fun-loving persona.
I reckon if I was to pick an event to see one of my favourite artists play at, this was it. The mellow vibes and cool atmosphere, teamed with two rad supporting artists, made this the party of the month and a super cool experience to kick off my first spring in the 6ix.
Check out Blare Magazines website for some more sick photographs of the event: http://blaremagazine.com/2017/04/04/photos-mac-demarco-at-house-of-vans-toronto/