For 12 years, The Basement Revue has been a half-music, half-literary variety show with a rock-’n’-roll sensibility and a unique Canadian voice, hosted and curated by Broken Social Scene singer/songwriter Jason Collett. From its inception on a wintry night in 2007 at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern, The Basement Revue has explored what happens when artists of different disciplines share the stage together. This has made for exciting collaborations, such as Feist backing up Michael Ondaatje or Margaret Atwood stepping up to the mic in front of one of Toronto’s most celebrated bands and saying, with her characteristic deadpan wit, “hit it Sadies.” Combining a compelling mix of musicians, storytellers, and poets with the improvisational spirit of a kitchen party, The Basement Revue has blossomed into one of Canada’s most dynamic live event series.
More than a great night out, The Basement Revue is both a showcase and an incubator for Canadian culture. The Basement Revue presents the best emerging and established literary and musical talent of the country on stage in curated multi-disciplinary evenings. These shows are renowned for the deep connection they achieve between the artists and the audience. What’s more significant however, are the many ongoing collaborations between artists that are born on The Basement Revue stage and go on to flourish long after. This kind of cross-pollinating is a one-of-a-kind format. The Globe and Mail said of its eighth season, “Part variety show, part vaudeville theatre, part improv act and part poetry slam, the Basement Revue is a cross-disciplinary carnival where anything can happen, and often does. The list of past participants reads like a who’s who of CanRock and CanLit, from Stars and Broken Social Scene to Sheila Heti and Vincent Lam.”
In 2017, The Basement Revue partnered with Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) and New Constellations was born – a nation(s)wide tour celebrating Next Wave Indigenous music and writing. Bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists alike and featuring contributions from Polaris winners Jeremy Dutcher, A Tribe Called Red and Lido Pimienta, as well as July Talk, Feist, Sam Roberts, Stars, Weaves, Billy Ray Belcourt, Naomi Klein and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.
As is tradition for the Basement Revue, each night’s performers remain a surprise to the audience until they step on stage. Even the performers themselves are kept in the dark, adding an extra element of surprise to the evening.