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Toronto’s Underground Music Scene

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Toronto’s Underground Music Scene

Now, you might be wondering: what does music (and thus a blog post about music) have to do with denim? As it happens, music and denim actually have a long-standing history together. Jagger, John, Jackson… Some of the music industry’s biggest names are almost synonymous with the denim they wore. Some might even argue that the popularization of denim as a casual staple in the average person’s wardrobe was brought on by the commercialization of these musical giants. Besides, our staff here have lives and passions outside of just denim… we promise. 

A scene that I’ve personally been involved with for the last decade of my life has been the punk/hardcore scene. Punk dates back to the 70s and 80s with bands like Sex Pistols and The Clash, sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a thriving subculture today. In major cities all over the world, there are groups of young people expressing their frustrations, both political and personal, through fringe genres like punk and hardcore. After all, punk music started out as a symbol of rebellion… kind of like denim, no? Denim became a symbol of rebellion in the 50s and 60s because of its association with the American Greaser subculture which, like punk music, was an anti-establishment movement.

Toronto has an abundance of promoters who put on shows for punk/hardcore enthusiasts. For example, Not Dead Yet, a Toronto-based booking company, puts on a diverse array of events for artists whose sounds range from punk to metal to even Scandinavian synth-pop (see: Lust For Youth). Not Dead Yet also participate in cultural movements that give issues like inclusivity a platform.

But Toronto doesn’t only attract acts from outside the city’s limits; it is also a destination for budding artists to grow in their craft and find like-minded artists to collaborate with. Thus, Toronto has become a creative hub and a starting place for so many internationally known artists. And this is no exception in the world of punk/hardcore. Bands like Mil-Spec, who formed in Toronto, are currently touring Europe with iconic hardcore act Have Heart. Similarly, Wild Side, a local rock and roll favourite, just did a string of shows along the west coast. There are even groups like Iris, whose sound falls closer to ‘shoegaze-y’ end of the spectrum, who have been on tour a few times in the last year alone. Toronto’s impact on the international music scene is no joke. 

Recently, the scene has taken a few blows with venues like Faith/Void and Coalition closing down this last year. However, the scene here is still thriving due to the community that holds it together. New underground venues pop up all the time in response to very real demand and desire to keep the scene alive no matter how small it may be. The spirit of a subculture will never fade (pun un-intended… but I’ll go with it) as long as it has a group of passionate individuals behind it. I guess that’s why denim has never left the fashion scene. Though its popularity ebbs and flows, it seems to always have a dedicated group of individuals behind it.

For those interested, here are a few Toronto-based music events to look forward to this month:

08/15/2019 – Drab Majesty, Xeno, Oaklander, Body of Light at Velvet Underground.

08/16/2019 – Kriegshӧg, Schizophrenia, S.H.I.T., Vaaska, Absolut, Game, Cell, Tashme at Velvet Underground.

08/26/2019 – Ekulu, Illusion, Mil-Spec at Sea-Scape.

Photos courtesy of Ethan Yitzbin and Norman Regucera, respectively.