Get An Earful: Stranded at The Opera House

Sayyy, isn’t that a song from Grease? Wait, I must have the ’50s drive-in where Sandy ditched Danny Zuko confused with iconic Toronto concert venue The Opera House, scene for this year’s Stranded Fest on Saturday, August 11th.

Ahoy hoy, what the devil is Stranded Fest, you ask? Well, how about instead of debating what would be your deserted island discs, a thousand buoys and gulls were landlocked inside a 100+-year-old former vaudeville theatre experiencing once-in-a-lifetime cover sets by amazing local bands?

It’s a pretty innovative concept now in its third go-around courtesy of founders Zachary Richman and Martin Perez, as is this Soundsgood playlist.

It features “original” songs from the Greater Toronto Area groups that will be performing for listeners to get to know them, as well as one by each of the legendary alternative artists being imitated as a form of flattery. That, and you don’t need a Spotify, Apple Music or even YouTube premium account to enjoy these tunes.

What’s even cooler IMO is how four of the six acts to be covered are Opera House alumni!

Seaway’s animated brand of pop-punk matches well with Weezer. By the time the latter played the grand old lady on Queen Street East in late 1994, everyone – and I mean everyone – seemed to know all the words to their much-beloved Blue Album. Darenots mash up hip-hop, reggae, trap and rock, all of which will come in handy if they are to faithfully pay tribute to The Offspring, who graced The Opera House with their rowdy presence in both 1993 and 1994 (promoting Ignition and Smash, respectively). The Look Back Now had better put their power pop hooks and harmonies into overdrive, as they have the arduous task of replicating The Killers’ whirlwind energy on Hot Fuss when they first blew into town circa 2004.

Little Boxer sounds like my kind of straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll who wouldn’t be afraid to change up genres, not unlike The White Stripes when bluesy punk tracks from the year 2000 breakthrough De Stijl blew Torontonians’ minds. Satanic Mills take the honour of having the coolest band name on this lineup. Not sure that’s a prerequisite for getting to tackle Red Hot Chili Peppers; I’d personally love to hear a lesser-known sexy funk jam off of the classic Blood Sugar Sex Magik, wouldn’t you all? Finally, not sure Deadwinter’s guttural, Damian Abraham-meets-George Pettit growling is the best fit in terms of Fall Out Boy’s emotionally charged screams, although they should definitely do “Saturday”, as that’s when this is all goin’ down. (Sugar!)

Git yer last-minute tix to Stranded Fest here.

Gilles LeBlanc

Gilles LeBlanc literally fell into “alternative rock” wayyy back at Lollapalooza 1992, where he got caught in his first mosh pit watching some band named Pearl Jam. Since then, he’s spent the better part of his life looking for music to match the liberating rush he felt that day, with a particular chest-beating emphasis on stuff coming out of his native Canada. It took him awhile, but Gilles now writes feverishly about all things that rock (and or roll) through his ROCKthusiast alter ego.

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