It’s been a whirlwind of discovering new acts over the last couple of weeks while attending Scenefest, Lachie Fest, Field Trip and just this last weekend TURF (Toronto Urban Roots Festival). Friday was the start of TURF and the bands were great but based on a tip from Niki at AIM (Artists In Motion Booking Agency), I had to make the choice of leaving TURF (and missing Local Natives) to hop over to Yonge and Dundas Square to check out a 23 piece ska band from Australia called the Melbourne Ska Orchestra were playing for the Virgin Mobile Indie Fridays. I had seen photos posted online of the band performing before an impressive audience of 50,000 closing down the Montreal Jazz Festival a few nights before.
First off a 23 piece of anything in a band is an impressive feat – keeping that many people together on the road must require some great deal of patience and organization. But seriously – they were amazing.
The band came out playing one by one and taking their place in the “orchestra” – the sound man nailed it with making sure everything was clear and i the mix – also an amazing feat with this many players, and I’m sure their sound check was shorter than what they are used to.
Bandleader Nicky Bomba, works the crowd immediately with his energy and enthusiasm. Throughout the show the band is constantly moving, taking turns at being the focal point – there’s nothing dull about this show. The band even at one point on cue pauses and all run to the front of the stage to take a “band photo” for an audience member.
The crowd itself was typical Toronto save for the super fan in front of us that would scream out to the band throughout thew set. Sure they bopped to the music but for the most part they should have been jumping around and really giving the band more back. The crowds lacklustre didn’t deter Bomba from getting the crowd to participate by “freezing” on cue (except the super fan who shouted – “I can’t stop dancing!!!!”), turning around to face the other way and jump when asked, as well as the traditional sing along. The sign of a true frontman with experience.
The band finished up by walking of stage playing their horns while walking through the crowd to the merch booth where they continued to play and after sign autographs, pose for photos and talk to the crowd. After the show I ran into Max and Dimitri from Burning the Day, as well it was good to see Indie88 out in support!
If you like ska, reggae, latin, jazz, with a touch of rock…. give these guys a spin! In any case check them out they are a great show to see.
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