Show Review: Queens Park Water Tower Collective’s Valentine’s Day Bash

Photos (Effie Sky pictured) and Article by Rachel Chen

The contrast of pink hearts dangling from the ceiling and Weather Wise’s rock set the scene for Queens Park Water Tower Collective’s (QPWT) Valentine’s Day Bash.

“That was a love song. It doesn’t sound like it, but it was!” they exclaimed.

QPWT is a Toronto based art collective of “musicians, comedians, filmmakers, photographers, artists, models and writers,” according to their website. Featuring eight different QPWT acts – Weather Wise, Effie Sky, The Retroaction, The Accolades, Xoana, Whiplash Girlchild, LOAF, and Rocket Bomb respectively – the ambitious nearly six hour event served as QPWT’s release party for their first album, QPWT Presents: The V Project.

The show started out strongly, despite starting late. It had a diverse lineup of bands traversing genres between blues-rock, indie pop, jazz, and hip-hop. Although the event was definitely a showcase of local Toronto talent, I was disappointed to see only two acts with female artists out of the eight – Effie Sky and Xoana.

Singer-songwriter Effie Sky performed in cat ears, immediately making her stand out from the mostly male lineup. Her sardonic lyricism and frank honesty also made for a both entertaining and captivating performance, such as when she explained her song, “Forever.” “I wrote this about a prostitute,” she said.

Afterwards, The Retroaction came on and played a solid blues rock set, complete with amusing banter between the members. Clearly, they had good chemistry. The crowd finally began to fill in at this point, with enough people for The Accolades’ lead singer to attempt a difficult, but successful crowd surf. With a seven-piece band, The Accolades’ hyped up the crowd, applauding brave dancers at the front and leading the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to QPWT’s Head of Writing, Noah Walker.

The real stars of the night were undeniably Xoana, a cross-genre group fusing hip-hop and jazz sounds. They opened with ethereal keys and the first lyric was aptly, “This shit is off the walls!” With the largest and notably most diverse crowd of the night, it was difficult to hear any of the band members speak over all the fans screaming. It was also a joy watching the bassist and guitarist make eye contact throughout their performance; their musical connection translated into some sick riffs. If there was any criticism to be given, Xoana’s last song seemed to drag on for too long, but the crowd did not seem to mind too much.

Whiplash Girlchild came on next at about 12:30 am. Unfortunately, the event beginning late also meant that groups were performing later, and the crowd was parsing out. The band played an enthusiastic rock & roll set anyway, with the lead vocalist asking the crowd if anyone was single – if they were, he joked, they should hit up their drummer, Mitch.

The penultimate act, alternative rock band LOAF, called on everyone’s University of Toronto spirit; apparently, most of the crowd at this point was comprised of U of T students. Rocket Bomb closed the show, but it was after last call already. Both the band and remaining crowd members appeared fatigued. Nonetheless, Rocket Bomb played their retro-inspired pop songs while the audience mustered up their energy to keep dancing. The band finished with satisfied smiles, knowing they had performed yet another successful set.

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