In 2015, Dan Mangan began a house concert network for artists on his label, Madic Records. In the three years since, that has evolved into Side Door, co-founded by Laura Simpson, meant to connect artists & show hosts for a "direct-to-audience gigging economy".
They’ve put on hundreds of shows across the country and into the States, with the latest being an intimate, acoustic night with one of the founders of Broken Social Scene, Kevin Drew. And joining Kevin was Andrea Lo, Katrina Jones, and Adam Nanji from Belle Game as his backing band. This all came together for about 75 people at The China Cloud in Vancouver.
Kevin Drew started off chatting and joking with the crowd, setting a loose tone for the night as he started with "Broke Me Up" off his first solo album, then went back to a Broken Social gem, "Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day)", as he deftly wove through his musical history, captivating every single person in the room. Definitely a pleasant surprise, as I wasn’t sure if he would just be playing from his solo albums or not.
After a few more songs, including b-side "All My Friends Are Magazines", Drew let Belle Game take centre stage. They recounted their first meeting before going into "Spirit", a song Kevin provided backup vocals for. I've still never seen belle Game perform where I haven't been absolutely blown away by the power of Andrea's voice, and that was especially true in this smaller setting, as they played a couple more songs while Drew took a brief break from the stage.
Kevin then returned, giving Andrea, Adam, and Katrina a short break, as he did an incredible acoustic rendition of one of my favourite songs, "It’s All Gonna Break" which was not only the highlight of the night, but the year so far.
As the set wound to an end, he jumped on the piano side-stage to play "Good Sex", joking about how it was pretty much a re-write of "Lover’s Spit", which of course followed. At that point he poked a bit of fun at friend, sometimes-BSS member, and Stars singer Torquil Campbell... who hollered back from the crowd. Drew called him up and they bantered for a few minutes before launching into an impromptu song Torquil wrote (but never recorded) after the passing of his father.
They ended the night with Drew talking about Gord Downie, and his experience co-writing songs off the Secret Path project, before he and Campbell sang "Here, Here and Here" for the perfect ending to a beautiful night.
Some of these songs I had only ever seen in venues ten times the size with three times as many people on stage, so seeing them in this setting was almost unreal. It wasn’t a "show" or a "concert" or a "gig", it was a group of friends gathering to share their love of music.
Broke Me Up [KD]
Ibi Dreams Of Pavement (A Better Day) [BSS]
All My Friends Are Magazines [BSS]
Safety Bricks [KD]
I Want Nothing [BG]
Oh I [BG]
It’s All Gonna Break [BSS]
Good Sex [KD]
Lover’s Spit [BSS]
A Song for Torquil’s Father [TC]
Here, Here and Here [Gord Downie cover]