Dilly Dally's Toronto Swan Song Burned This Mother Down

Lee's Palace, May 27

With Breeze and Bad Waitress

Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa

BY Allie GregoryPublished May 28, 2023

Six years ago, a weekend of shows ushered in the farewell to one of Toronto's foremost live music institutions: the Silver Dollar. Everyone remembers that final night headlined by METZ, which ended with legendary local promoter Dan Burke crowd surfing atop the dislodged stage sign.

Perhaps just as important — but routinely overlooked — is that long-running post-grunge outfit Dilly Dally were also among those to bid farewell to the Dollar that weekend. At a time before their sophomore (and would-be final) album, Heaven, had even dropped, they still drew a massive crowd of loyal fans who recognized their integral role in the city's thriving underground scene.

Just as Toronto music vets at that time said their goodbyes to the Dollar, this weekend, it was Dilly Dally's chance to say goodbye — or at least see you later — to Toronto, with their first of two final hometown shows, announced alongside their breakup earlier this year. It had been a few months since the beloved quartet performed in the city after a period of relative inactivity over the pandemic. That said, the group had been gaining considerable ground in the international circuit, having been selected for a coveted opening spot on My Chemical Romance's reunion tour in 2022.

Seemingly primed for a level-up this year, the heartbreaking news of their disbandment in March came alongside the release of two new songs, "Morning Light" and "Colour of Joy." (Leave it to the persistently fiery Dilly Dally to drop the two best songs of their career and immediately dip!) Of course, the Saturday crowd at Lee's Palace was treated to both tracks in a lengthy set of pure indulgence, tears and swan songs.

The night began with a pair of equally integral local bands: Breeze (led by Josh Korody, who produced DD's Sore), the outfit channelling angular '70s post-punk aesthetics, and Bad Waitress, the glint of their glitter-and-leather brand of punk rock setting fire to the venue as if burning an effigy of their predecessors to pay tribute to their tenure.

Enda Monks, Liz Ball, Annie Jane Marie and Benjamin Reinhartz took to the stage after 11 p.m. By this point in the night, the sold-out show was packed with familiar faces; it was a safe space lined with high-school chums, industry folks, punks, goths and hipsters, with familial freak flags flying high. A push-mosh had already broken out during Bad Waitress's set, and the pit was already yearning for more. 

Dilly Dally started where they ought to have: at the beginning. They opened the show with the searing 2014 single "Candy Mountain," sending die-hards into a frenzy of cheers as they emotionally prepared to hear Monks's snarling vocals one last time. The bandleader, already wearing their emotions on their sleeve, donned their sequinned dress as a shield — one whose barriers would shortly thereafter be demolished by sentiment and love.

The set from there was a decade-spanning showcase of highlights: "Doom," "Believe," "Sorry Ur Mad," the aptly green-lit "Marijuana" (during which Monks dove into a free-form fret-scratching scream-solo), "Snake Head," "Ice Cream" and "I Feel Free" among others making up the first half, which was appropriately doused in beer, crowd-surfing and extremely good vibes.

The band then treated Lee's to particularly spirited renditions of fan-favourites, "Sober Motel" and "Desire," to an overflow of applause, before Monks began an impassioned speech portending their goodbyes. "We have put everything we have, had, into this," they began, tearing up. "All four of us put everything of ourselves into this. And you have all given us everything in return. Thank you so much ... It's all fucking worth it."

Holding back waterworks as best they could, Monks explained that, during practice, they weren't sure if the band would be able to perform "Next Gold" — with prophetic lyrics "Right after the show / I'm gonna burn this mother down / And race you to the next one" perhaps too succinctly summarizing this moment in time. Nevertheless, "I realized it's happy," Monks continued, "because there's gonna be more shows that we're gonna go to and that we're gonna play in, and that you're gonna play in and you're gonna go to — forever and ever. So it's never gonna stop."

A double encore would just about prove them right; all in all, the band played for nearly an hour and a half before they gave their final bows arm-in-arm, preparing to do it all again one last time on Sunday night. 

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