When I arrived at The Sister, a landmark haunt located in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, there were only six of us there–not particularly surprising for a rainy Monday evening. The stage is just slightly wider than the drum set and is separated from the rest of the pub by a modest red velvet curtain. There, I see the sound guy, a burly man with adorned suspenders reminiscent of Jennifer Aniston in Office Space.
“Mip just texted me,” he says. “She’s on her way in a cab,” and finishes downing his pint. Undoubtedly referring to the leading woman of local power-pop rockers The Mip Power Trio, and whose solo act opens tonight’s Indie Mondays set. Mip arrives not a minute too late, and after a speedy set-up the one-woman show catches her breath and starts off with an acoustic number.
As the former resident artist at The Sister, Mip appears truly at home on this stage. Armed with a guitar and an ukulele, Mip mixes stripped down rock n roll with folk elements and a hint of everything from country to blues. They say “write what you know,” and Mip does just that with her songwriting. With topics ranging from drinking to student debt to love affairs, there is really something for everyone here. The lyrics are clever yet understated; the melodies are catchy and filled with energy. There are no gimmicks here, just great narrative storytelling that is sure to lift the spirits.
From writing about what you know to writing about what Torontonians only dream about, up next were surf rockers Luau or Die. Going back to surf rock roots, Luau or Die are a purely instrumental band that, after a few lineup changes, consist of three members. At this point in the evening, there are currently fifteen of us in the audience–which by all accounts classifies a full house at The Sister.
“We wrote this next song while on a high speed chase through the desert!” proclaims bassist Le Spectre as they break into the blistering “Mojave Chaser”. Luau or Die fits with Quentin Tarantino the way a tuba fits with a fat kid. Were this the soundtrack to your life, then you must be a California spy with the looks of James Dean and the actions of James Bond. With some synchronized routines throw in for good measure, Luau or Die really take you away into a different, better world.
The final act are The Outbred Inlaws. Blue-haired frontman Steven King enters wearing a leather jacket and a L’Autre Dame shirt; although he probably prefers to be called Glenn Brody, he is the leader of this country/punk amalgamation. Mip returns to pull double duty on bass, while Greg Kowalczyk takes his place on the drums.
The Outbred Inlaws are a cross between an Irish hoedown and a dirty square dance wrapped in an ’80s-punk shell. Brody sings from his gut and means every word, with classics like “Let’s Get Drunk” and “Outlaw”. It’s easy to see how The Outbred Inlaws can inspire not just an approving head nod, but a sincere mosh pit in a crowd of less than twenty.
All in all, there is no better way to beat the Monday blues then with the folk, surf, punk, country and rock displayed at Indie Mondays at The Sister pub.
Author: Tanya Natapov