The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON
July 8, 2012
Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle
The indie rock act made a small crowd feel big things.
When I put pen to paper for a show review, I'm on the prowl for highs and lows – some sort of confines in which to give everything else I have to say some sort of context in my head. I planned no different stepping into the Horseshoe last Sunday to see Swedish act Loney Dear. But, a track or two into the set-list, a realization jumped out: this was going to be a night of highs.
Shortly into the set that began with straight and silent faces, lead Emil Svanängen (who often performs alone under the Loney Dear guise) tossed out an offering: “Let's make it a special night.” Of course, that kind of comment is par for the course, and it's likely that most performances from this talent are awfully special, but none of this detracts from the fact that Loney Dear's Horseshoe show was a stunner. And I'm not just talking about the skills that showed their faces, although that side of the performance itself was beaming. With a very small turn-out for the space (50 or 60 at best), the show could have been very awkward indeed, no matter how solid the set. However, each of those few dozen people that came were big fans of the act (or they were converted awfully quickly). Every soul stood at stage-front and stayed attentive, as the band themselves stood equally glad and beaming and dry and witty; we were all there, one hundred percent. In those low lights that night, there was a certain intimacy and movement in the sounds that made the experience feel monumental.
Of course, over and above the vibe of the room, the performance really was beaming. In fact, it's fair to say that the tracks on stage well surpassed their recorded counterparts, with every successive song becoming the night's new highlight, from the peaks and valleys of “Dear John” to the low tones and haunting vocals of “Harm/Slow”. With wild talent on the instruments they all held (clever beats and great bass-lines standing strong where they're often unnoticed) and smooth looping from Svanängen, the four on stage spent their time putting together some of the cleanest layers to come from a small group - so well composed that it was hard not to picture a team of eight artists squeezed onto the stage creating those sounds.
As the evening topped out and curfews were approaching, the lead urged the crowd: “Stay and drink us under the table. Do not go home. I have never been this explicit before” and I'm sure most of the audience felt the irresistible urge to do as he said – not just for a fun way to pass the late hours with a band they love, but out of gratitude for the set they'd experienced. Many bands would be disheartened by an turn-out small enough to address everyone by name, but Loney Dear showed us just how happy they were that we showed up. Next time around, everyone in that audience will be bringing their friends.