Published Sep 08, 2013For the past eight years, Toronto's Ohbijou have been the heart of the city's indie folk/pop community. With three albums, a number of past and present off-shoot bands and an entire collective of friends they've collaborated with throughout the years, the seven-piece band have become an entity of their own, creating a mark on the city and country's music history. Last night marked the indefinite hiatus of the band, with their farewell show at the Great Hall, but as with all shows like this, it was a mixture of emotions, both exciting and bittersweet.
"We know it's a celebration and all, but we're also sad and kind of angry," said the Wooden Sky's Gavin Gardiner last night. He goes on to sum up his feelings in a concisely aggressive and sort of affectionate way only friends can throw at one another: "Fuck you, Ohbijou!"
The evening was a three-part act, consisting of a set by Ohbijou, a centre act of Ohbijou's closest confidants covering their hits before a final Ohbijou set to close the evening off. And the lengthy list of "Friends in Bellwoods" they were able to conjure up is definitely a testament to their influence on the Toronto music scene: Gentleman Reg, the Wooden Sky, Evening Hymns, the Acorn, Kat Burns of Forest City Lovers and John O'Regan of Diamond Rings. This is a collective just as powerful and dynamic as another one of Toronto's most well-known indie collectives, Broken Social Scene.
Having been absent from the stage for quite some time now, Ohbijou's performances still prove to be consistent, warm and moving. Jennifer Mecija and Anissa Hart's flourishing orchestral additions are still a touchstone of their sound, as well as singer Casey Mecija's signature voice. There is no other as delicate and saccharine, but also soaring with emotions; it completes Ohbijou.
The band's friends also do admirable jobs covering Ohbijou's songs, from Kat Burns' minimal one-woman performance to the Wooden Sky giving their own folk interpretation of their friends' hits. Friends often have jam sessions in each other's living rooms and tonight, we saw that off-the-cuff experiment of covering each other's music translated onto a bigger stage, for a bigger audience, but inviting the rest of us in as opposed to alienating those in the room who might not be their friends, though surely, majority of the room was packed with old friends.
Don't blame it on the humid, stuffy venue because regardless of its setting, Ohbijou would've made their farewell show a warm, inviting space swelling with nostalgic feelings of celebration, sadness and maybe anger. Fuck you, Ohbijou! And by that, of course, we mean that we love and thank you for the great music, Ohbijou.