The Silver Dollar Room was not a pretty place, but it was always a vibrant one. The latest victim of Toronto's booming downtown real estate market — not even a recent heritage designation could save it — the 50-year-old venue shuttered its doors in fine fashion, hosting a weekend-long string of shows that culminated with local heroes METZ.
Beginning the ending were New Fries, who played a short 20-minute set of their herky-jerky post-punk for an already packed crowd. Their recordings have yet to capture the precise interplay between the quartet, following few traditional rhythm patterns. They finished with singer-guitarist Anni Spadafora and bass player Tim Fagan crouched on stage alternating between two notes for what seemed like several minutes. Some fell in love while others didn't quite know what they were hearing. Few left without an impression.
Fake Palms felt like a pop group by comparison. The aggressive dream-poppers delivered a tight performance based around the chiming guitars of guitarists Michael le Riche and Lane Haley backed by a propulsive rhythm section, delivering tracks from their much loved self-titled debut. Le Riche captured the spirit of the evening best when he implored the crowd to celebrate the moment and mourn in the aftermath.
There was blood in the water by the time METZ hit the stage; from the opening guitar scrapes of "The Swimmer" the crowd was primed for the band's thundering noise-rock, the first crowd surfer already up by the time the song kicked into high gear. Working through tracks from their two full-lengths, the trio were in fine form. Singer Alex Edkins howled into the mic, spittle flying from his mouth as Chris Slorach and Hayden Menzies pounded away on bass and drums. Edkins revealed that the band had just started work on the follow up to 2015's II and they offered an unnamed, mid-tempo new song based around a churning guitar riff as proof.
Despite the chaos on both the stage and dance floor, patrons and band alike were respectful to the space, with the exception of Edkins removing the large Silver Dollar logo that hung on the back of the stage. It was passed around and used as a surf board for much of their set. But as they announced their last two songs the sign was spontaneously passed around atop the crowd, travelling the entirety of the bar as everyone laid hands on the iconic logo.
The night ended with Dan Burke, long-time booker of the venue who's helped keep it a vital proving ground for both touring and local acts, surfing across the crowd while kneeling on that same sign, relishing in what he'd help build. There was no more fitting an end for both the set and the story of the Silver Dollar Room.