Published Dec 14, 2019Hollerado's final show on their retirement tour was the perfect goodbye after a decade full of confetti, white paint and peace signs.
It was an experience best compared to that rare TV finale that somehow pays off every loose thread, nails the callbacks and goes deep with surprise cameos. You could have made one of those "Top Ten Easter Eggs You Missed" lists off of this last show.
One of the most touching callbacks of the night came early, when a quiet man introduced as Sam walked on stage and performed a short tune he wrote for the band over a decade ago. It was "Hollerado Land," the opener to the band's 2010 debut, Record In A Bag.
It's hard to imagine any attendee could have been let down by the set list, which covered every era in the band's history. Obviously "Juliette" was played. You betcha "Don't Think" was there, albeit reworked into instrumental interludes. Some new stuff made it in, but not so much as to lessen the crowd's ability to sing along. Even the chasmic deep cut "Dogs Are Better Than Cats," from Hollerado's experimental 111 Songs project, was used as the band's intro music. We're talking inner core of the Earth deep on that one.
And yet, while by all accounts this night should have been all about Hollerado, the members did everything in their power to make this night about literally everyone else, spotlighting the folks around them that got them here: sharing stories about the crew; an audience Q&A; re-recruiting Bossie's Anne Douris for keyboard duty and bringing out Little Junior's Rane Elliot-Armstrong, praising these musician friends they've had the privilege of lifting up (and Menno joking that the real reason for Hollerado's retirement is "because these kids are stealing our jobs"). These are humble fellas to the bittersweet end.
Three encores showed that neither the band nor the crowd had any desire to say goodbye to the other. Had it not been for city noise bylaws the band could have easily produced a fourth "one more song," but the venue put their foot down and unplugged the amps.
While the sendoff was nothing short of perfect, those who can't accept Hollerado's retirement should take comfort in knowing they'll still sort of be around. With Menno Versteeg fronting Royal Mountain Records, the members forming new super groups every other day, and Nixon Boyd producing songs out of Banquet Sound studio, these guys' DNA will be all over Canadian music for a long time.
Menno's last words of the night were "this was the best fucking show of my life." There must have been loads of people in that crowd for whom the feeling was mutual. This one will be looked back on as a historic Toronto show.