The Toronto Star Shawn Mendes’ interview about his pop-up show return to The Great Hall and his Greater Toronto go-tos.
“It still smells like cedar at the newly remodeled concert venue The Great Hall as a giddy crowd of nearly 500 kids — ranging from college-aged cheering squads to actual children accompanied by parents — await Shawn Mendes.
The 18-year-old Pickering native turned international guitar-pop sensation will perform a 45-minute showcase for a mix of social-media stars, contest winners and diehards who lined up outside the venue — some overnight.
When he takes the stage in jeans and a T-shirt, he’s greeted by screams and smartphone salutes. The hashtag #IlluminateToronto will soon become the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter across Canada.
The crowd at the Queen West venue, last Saturday, knows songs from the new album Illuminate by heart, even though it was released only eight days earlier, becoming Mendes’s second to debut at No. 1 on both the Canadian SoundScan and Billboard Top 200 Albums charts.
There’s a more muted response, however, to musical improvisations, such as the band’s mini-jam during new song “Ruin.” While a Mendes show is a tightly choreographed affair, down to the timing of when he shouts “Sing!” this looser style of musicianship seems to be his long-term ambition.
In an interview in his dressing room that afternoon, Mendes says he long promised friends he’d break into a guitar solo on tour, ultimately riffing off script during a show in Vancouver. He’s named John Mayer as a musical hero throughout the promotional campaign for Illuminate, specifically Mayer’s 2006 album Continuum that features “Waiting on the World to Change” and came out when Mendes was 8.” READ FULL STORY
First rehearsal space
“The Great Hall, where he returned for the #IlluminateToronto showcase. “I remember standing on this stage for the first time meeting my band and figuring out where I wanted to go in terms of live performance.”’
The Toronto Star previews Julia Holter’s sold-out March 4, 2016 performance at The Great Hall.
“You can always count on Julia Holter for a change in direction. Her fourth album, last year’s Have You in My Wilderness, marks a notable departure from her earlier, more avant-garde work. Rather than being centralized around a theme, like 2011’s Tragedy (the Euripedes play Hippolytus), 2012’s Ekstasis (author Virginia Woolf, in part) and 2013’s Loud City Song (the 1958 movie musical Gigi), this collection of ethereal electronic-fueled songs is simply that: a collection of ethereal electronic-fuelled songs.
Holter, who will perform at the Great Hall on Friday and whose album topped a number of year-end Top 10 lists, says some of the compositions were simply awaiting proper fermentation before their release was considered.
“I started writing these songs a while ago and I guess this album was asking to be made because . . . I guess I just wanted to make sort of like a collection of ’60s pop ballads or something . . . just love songs, basically,” a distracted-sounding Holter said over the phone, somewhere between Ohio and Minneapolis.
“I didn’t try to do it for awhile, but I think that my projects are kind of like in different realms. It didn’t make sense to do a record of ballads while I was doing Loud City Song or Tragedy: those were more immediate concerns at the time as I already had a collection of songs that fit on those records.”
Naming three ballads, “Sea Calls Me Home,” “Betsy on the Roof” and the title track as the catalysts to completing Have You in My Wilderness, Holter rejects the notion that her newer material is more “accessible.”’ READ FULL STORY
For the full line-up of current events, concerts and shows at The Great Hall, click calendar.
Brush toting fighters gird up for Art Battle
A uniquely artistic sport, the live painting competition created by two Torontonians has spread to 55 cities.
The Great Hall hosts a number of recurring creative, cultural and uniquely Toronto events including Art Battle, a timed live painting competition that originated in our venue back in 2009 and has now expanded across Canada, the U.S. and around the globe. Check out this Art Battle Toronto Star story about the growing arts and entertainment phenomenon. Then come watch and vote on — or paint in — Art Battle Toronto at The Great Hall for yourself, soon.
‘“It’s sort of Fight Club for painters.”
Mark Liam Smith is describing what happens when you give an artist 20 minutes to fill a blank canvas in front of a few hundred cheering spectators.
Toronto’s first monthly Art Battle of the year was held Tuesday night at The Great Hall on artsy West Queen West. Sixteen competitors vied to win over the audience, who voted via their smartphones.
It was Smith’s first time duking it out for the chance at a cash prize and spot at the Toronto finals in June. The 42-year-old paints full time and moved to the city just last month, hoping to land representation.
“The life of a painter is a pretty solitary life,” said Smith, who is colour-blind. Battling his peers Tuesday night was a way to connect with the art community, and he was happy to accept invitations from fellow painters to visit their galleries.
Those kinds of connections are exactly what the Art Battle’s founders hope to spark.
Simon Plashkes, 34, and Chris Pemberton, 39, have planned many events together over the years, including an interactive installation at Nuit Blanche and a salon-style speaker series. The idea for a live painting competition came to them when they were thinking of an entertaining intermission between speakers in 2009.
“It greatly outshone the rest of the evening,” said Plashkes.
That’s when they decided to hold it as a stand-alone event at The Great Hall that fall, and it’s become a monthly fixture in the community since.’ READ FULL STORY
Art Battle Toronto takes place monthly at The Great Hall (with a brief summer hiatus). Get the schedule for upcoming Art Battle events right here.