Meet Exclaim!'s Class of 2023: Kali Horse, Sham Family, Crasher

This week, you can catch post-punk and surf rock in Hamilton and dance the night away in Toronto

Photos (clockwise from top left): Kali Horse by Alex Carre, Sham Family by Kevin Kudu, Crasher, KOZA

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jan 4, 2023

If your new year's resolution was to heed Cadence Weapon's sage advice to "go see a live show while you still can," this is the perfect place to start. Elementary, in fact — it's Exclaim!'s Class of 2023 concert series, proudly supported by Mary Brown's Chicken.

We'll be kicking off this year's showcase of emerging acts who are making the grade in Hamilton and Toronto this week, with shows at the Casbah and the Horseshoe Tavern. Get to know the first slate of performers below.

January 6: The Casbah in Hamilton, ON

Sham Family

After blowing the roof off of Toronto's Monarch Tavern during last year's Class Of series, Sham Family are bringing their incendiary shoegaze-tinged post-punk to Hamilton — a city they love and haven't had as many opportunities to play in as they'd like, according to bandleader Kory Ross. This aligns well with the band's plans for 2023, which include playing as many shows as humanly possible and finishing the follow-up to their self-titled EP, which they released via Born Ruffians' Wavy Haze label in 2022. The scathing political indictments central to the band's style are undergirded by a palpable sense of hope: "Ontario specifically is a harsh place for the arts," Ross explains, but he believes our current situation is not the only option. "There are examples throughout the world, even other cities in this country for that matter, that really support the arts in an effective way that makes this a viable career for many."

Bad Crush

Bad Crush are living proof that, if surf punk and riot grrrl had a baby, it would be pretty crushworthy. Despite being born at such a young age, the Hamilton-bred quartet are ready to show everyone how people party in the Hammer. "It is so exciting to meet and rip up the stage with some other incredible Canadian artists," says vocalist Paige Thompson. "I couldn't think of a better way to ring in the new year!" Speaking of 2023, Bad Crush are looking forward to writing for their next album, which is sure to be their catalogue's equivalent to Neil Young's vastly underrated Trans.

The Beach Bats

If you say that you're a shoegaze band, the Beach Bats implore you to name five Air Jordan models as proof. When seasons permit, you can catch them getting sand in their Js on Hamilton's four-mile Beach Strip — and they're planning on releasing their sophomore full-length just in time to enjoy alongside 2023's great thaw. They'll be debuting some of this new music for Class Of, and describe the sound as being like "what a well-mixed Hurricane tastes like." It's safe to anticipate notes of passionfruit when the trio bring their bossa-nova surf rock to the Casbah.


Though some may characterize their music as a "frenetic nightmare," Hamilton's own Žuto think they sound like they're trying their best. Their alien-meets-astronaut brand of post punk has gotten them to the top of the class, so they must be doing it right. The year ahead will see more of that: the trio are fresh off the release of a new double single, which precedes a full-length album due later in 2023. "Then... shows, breakup, reunion tour?" they guess, but admit it might not necessarily be in that order. The band also hypothesize their eventual deportation, which may occur before or after they see Ween become more important to Canadian history than Rush.

January 7: The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON

Kali Horse

While 2023 is not the year of the horse (sorry, Fucked Up), it very well might be the year of Kali Horse. Hot on the hooves of sprawling latest track "In the Water," Toronto's winsome twosome of dreamy psych rock — Desiree Das Gupta and Sam Maloney — are gearing up to bring you more "singles, secrets, festivals and creatures." While you may already know them for their self-stylized ethereal post-psych swamp rock, they're looking forward to introducing Class Of attendees to what they refer to as "the chicken connection," as well as playing alongside (and comparing therapy notes with) the other amazing acts.


Cool goths know: Montreal's Crasher have the danceable yet romantic dark melodies you seek in their ever-growing catalogue of songs about being degenerates. In 2023, the band will be entering any parent's nightmare — the dreaded terrible twos. "We are breaking everything that can be broken around us and learning our first words, which will define the rest of our lives," says bandleader Asher Wood, whose first word was impressively "lawsuit." This trio of child prodigies still can't get through the night without being thoroughly rocked, so rest assured they'll have the Horseshoe's beams shaking even more than Skinny Puppy's legacy at the mention of Front Line Assembly.

Slash Need

It's more than a want — Slash Need require you to keep the dancefloor filled. Resisting their blazing industrial techno is futile, anyway. The year ahead will see the Toronto duo continue their mission of global pervasion, although they attest that countries and borders are just fictions of the colonial imperialist construct. Class of 2023 will let Slash Need celebrate the first anniversary of their likewise made-up BORDER TOWN EP (where they employ terms like "Anthropocene"). They're excited to "ENGAGE COMMUNITY EXCELLENCE" with their fellow acts and feel that "POTENT SYNERGY OF JOY FREEDOM DESIRE SIN INFINITE SOUND."


2023 is the year KOZA fully articulates her vision, marrying music and visual art, in the form of installations, animations, short films and more. "To sum up, prepare to be sick of me," she says. But you won't be able to help being bewitched by the siren song of the multi-disciplinarian's experimental synthpop. She'll also mesmerize the Horseshoe with intricate choreography, which apparently melds gymnastics with breathing embryo metamorphosis and TikTok dances.

For more information on the Class of 2023 concert series, presented in partnership with the City of Toronto's music office, check out the Facebook event pages and purchase tickets for both Hamilton and Toronto via Showclix. Advance ticketholders will be randomly selected to win a special on-site prize pack at the shows, including a $50 Mary Brown's Chicken gift card, plus merch from the bands and Exclaim!.

Next up:
01/13 CINDER / Bonnie Trash / not a band / Motorists - Monarch Tavern
01/14 Jaguar Sun / Dilettante / Theo Vandenhoff / J3M - Lee's Palace

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