MONARCH ● 04.04.2023 [TORONTO]



As soon as we bought the tickets back in January, we knew we had to scoop them up fast! The allure of a cozy, intimate venue in the heart of the Italian District paired with a band that is helping push forward the revival of unbridled grungy rock was simply irresistible. 

We discovered The Bobby Lees late on the train, or perhaps just on time, as a suggestion from Spotify after bombarding it with Teen Mortgage and Death Lens songs. The song that grabbed our attention first was “Drive”. The intro begins with: “They say I shouldn't drive when I'm feeling slightly suicidal. I'm looking for telephone poles and holes to crawl inside of." And then later breaks out into a memorable chorus: "Oh, come and ride with me! A little drive with me! Oh, come and ride with me! A little- Oh, wait." 

The Bobby Lees seamlessly blend the best of both worlds in rock - the gritty sound of New York punk fused with the raw and unpolished muddy sound of grunge from the 90s. This band offers the best of both worlds. Needless to say, we were pumped! 

Our first inclination was to head to our favorite pizzeria, but to our utter disbelief and horror, it was closed. Bitondos! We remembered one of the suggestions from the bartenders at the The Monarch Tavern when Black Budget played - to buy the lasagna next door called "San Francesco." We headed there, apprehensive - could we ever be as satisfied? 

After ordering lasagna with garlic parma fries, we sat down and ate every bit. It was amazing! We highly suggest anyone to check it out. The staff was super friendly, and the food was top-notch! After a heavy meal, we loaded up on gum and breath mints and went to enjoy the show. 

Once we got in, we went straight to the merch table, and we were greeted by the drummer. This was a pretty sweet added touch. I'm not sure if bands realize, especially touring bands, how important it is to have merch up and to be there to greet your fans at the table. He had a lovely girl help out, and the table was done beautifully with warm fairy lights. We picked up a Bobby Lee’s shirt and we were ready to go! 

“Beer time! Yes, let's go!” You can't go to a rock show without beer! Our cups overfilled with beer, and our hearts overfilled with joy, we headed up to the front of the stage to see who the opening band was. We discovered based on the bass drum and the setlist printed sitting on top of the  table near the curtains.  The band's name is “Paste,” and they recently debuted their premier single called “Razor Thin”. 

As we waited for the show to start, we noticed that photographers lined the whole front row. Word on the street was that no flash was allowed on the first three songs only! “What is the Danforth Music Hall? Like, what?” . Apparently that rule started because performers didn't want photos of themselves sweaty. We love underground shows for its realism, the sweaty hot messes we all end up at the end of night. That's a rock show. We live and die by this.

When Paste took the stage, we knew we were in for an incredible night. Their stage presence was addictive, and they were rocking some sick gear! Their pedalboards, guitar tones, synths, and drums made this band sound huge, and their songwriting took the great sound to the next level. This was a performance that felt organic, and the band was having the greatest time on stage. They were all smiles throughout the music on stage and in the audience, with some really clever stage banter that we, as performers, took notes on. 

For the first half of the set, we didn't use flash for the photos. In fact, no one did. But slowly, photographers began crawling along the front of the stage and blasting the strobe light when it went off. The challenge was nice to do a shoot without flash, and it certainly has its moments, except it can be a complete photographers nightmare when the stage is illuminated with only bright red lights, which is most rock concerts. 

Before The Bobby Lees went on stage, we talked with our friend Jack and told him we hoped for a moshpit. We were in for a treat! As soon as The Bobby Lees took the stage, a moshpit formed that we immediately jumped into, and don't worry, we all protected the photographers! There isn't much to say about The Bobby Lees that hasn't been said before. Their energy and attitude are unmatched, and they owned Toronto that night. They played all their hits, and the crowd sang every word back to them ten times louder. It was a pure night of rock and roll. Their set flew by, but they actually played a lot of songs. We were all dancing and moshing together, not wanting it to end.

Near the end of the set, a girl behind me said, "Isn't this amazing? This will be the last time we'll ever see such a prolific band in a small venue. Someday they may be on the Tonight Show." Moments like this bring us back to a time when Nirvana played at Lee's Palace before they blew up. Did the photographers know? Did the sound guys know? Did the fans and promoters know what was to come for this band? The thing that is magical about the underground music scene is that it's rich with talent, and it's not until over time that you will discover their true potential. We are not sure what is in store for The Bobby Lees, but we know you've got to go check them out!