Meet Exclaim!'s Class of 2023: Loviet, Hobby, Rusholme

We cap off the series with back-to-back nights at the Monarch

Photos (clockwise from top left): Loviet by Steph Montani, Rusholme by J Atlas, Hobby via @hobbyisaband on Instagram, Robinson Kirby via @robinsonkirbymusic on Instagram

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jan 25, 2023

Is it just me, or has this month flown by? All of the grey days have somehow blurred together and we're nearing the end of January, which means it's somehow the final week of Exclaim!'s Class of 2023 concert series, proudly supported by Mary Brown's Chicken.

We're definitely going out with a bang with two back-to-back nights at Toronto's Monarch Tavern this Friday, January 27 and Saturday, January 28. Meet the final emerging artists in this year's graduating class ahead of their showcase performances below.

January 27: Monarch Tavern


The Class of 2023's self-proclaimed class clowns, Hobby are your local shapeshifters. Much like their name suggests, they understand their own potential to go from exciting to stale at any given moment, so these noisy pastoral children are staying three steps ahead. According to the band's Stephen Pitman, they're currently channelling '70s country rock "with none of that hippy bullshit." This year, they'll be rounding up their third full-length record (following 2021's Weed and 2018 debut The Fastest Car Yet), which they recorded with Jimmy Bowskill at Ganaraska Recording Company in Cobourg — so it's safe to say these rural lovers might have more odes to places like this writer's hometown to come. You should definitely expect the unexpected, though.

Steel Saddle

If this feels like something you've sat on before, it's because Steel Saddle are the one and only band pulling double-duty in this year's Class Of series. Last week, the Montrealers played in their hometown, where they awed the sold-out crowd with a three-piece horn section. Now they're returning to the Monarch — where they did their first-ever live performance last February — and to celebrate, they're letting us here at Exclaim! premiere a brand-new live video of "Can't Be Satisfied" to give you a taste of what's to come when they return to steal more hearts at the scene of their Ontarian crimes.

Heavy Head

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and don't they know it. These Toronto alt-rockers are gearing up to record their debut album of driving rhythms and emo-inflected storytelling in March, to be released towards the end of 2023. The band are looking forward to winning over some new fans at the Monarch, as well as playing alongside the other great artists in the showcase — some of the hundreds they see making the Canadian music scene incredibly vibrant. "The problem is the three bands that are promoted nationally write terrible music," says bandleader Jamie O'Halloran, adding, "I'm sure people can guess who I am talking about." Please feel free to shout out your guesses in between songs.

Robinson Kirby

In our "fucked up modern world," Madelyn Kirby and Luke Robinson are trying to keep things simple. As Robinson Kirby, the duo are devoted to making guitar-based indie folk that serves as a vehicle for songcraft and lyrical expression above all else — but not at the expense of hooks, as last year's instant-classic "Secret Lover" proves. In 2023, they'll release a five-song EP that channels their existential crises and do some more touring in a Canadian music scene that they controversially claim is "not that bad." The pair are looking forward to being on a bill with their friends in Heavy Head, meeting the other bands and sharing their music.

January 28: Monarch Tavern


Rusholme are a shining example of people finding each other at the right time. "Every member is the perfect piece to our puzzle and we've all found some healing in that," bandleader Sam Abbygail says of their first six months as a band, "so we're doing everything we can to showcase that magic." The quartet will be capturing that alchemy to tape, as they're in the process of recording the band's debut LP — and they're looking forward to feeling reenergized in the studio with all the feel-good chemicals they know they'll receive performing at the Monarch. Rusholme's big-hearted, angsty anthems embrace a nostalgic mentality, looking for solutions to problems we already know the answer to. Sometimes it takes a melody to access your inner knowing.


"Powerhouse" is the type of PR wording that admittedly tends to be hyperbolic, but it feels accurate in Loviet's case. Nova Scotia-bred, Toronto-based Natalie Lynn makes '90s-inspired alt-pop with guts, seamlessly blending glossy synth textures and sludgy guitars that gives her sound a signature gleaming grittiness (a "Dullshine," if you will). Next month, Loviet will release the follow-up to her debut album, 2021's 777, in the form of a new EP called The Nighttime Is All in the Timing. Then she'll tour, with shows in the US, UK and Europe already on the books after Class Of brings her back to the Monarch for the first time since her show last spring with Texas King. Lynn says she's stoked about "being part of such a deadly lineup!"

Velvet Beach

Imagine the lovechild of the Cure and Beach House. While their name may suggest more of a crossover between the latter and the Velvet Underground, you should really meet Velvet Beach. All of their individual influences refract from one another in a kaleidoscope of dream pop guitars and soft piano with grandiose drums and bass. The band will be releasing their debut album later this year, ushered in by a release show at one of Toronto's most storied venues (and their Class Of performance, of course). Bandleader and devout Nelly Furtado stan Matias Gutierrez says it right: "We hope that as the music industry recovers, Exclaim!'s Class of 2023 series will help usher in a live music boom in Toronto and result in greater artistic output and collaboration!"


Glutenhead have been jokingly referring to their first real album as a band, called A Crack in Everything, as their "magnum opus," but bandleader Benjamin Shapiro fears that's what it's actually become. Though neither cathartic outbursts nor pirate shanties would be out of place on the follow-up to 2021's Palmerston and 2020's self-titled EP, he says that the record is shaping up to be "a poignant distillation of our vision for this band." Anything goes when Glutenhead bring their "divine nonsense music for passionate fools, crystal-eyed government employees and closeted absurdists" to the Monarch on Saturday night alongside other artists they admire. "It's an amazing time to be into local music in Toronto," Shapiro adds.

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 Friday and Saturday's shows at the Monarch 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!

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