Meet Exclaim!'s Class of 2024: La Sécurité, Sunnsetter, OLGA, the Royal Family

Get ready to vibe with back-to-back nights at the Monarch Tavern this week, featuring lots of post- and psych- suffixes

Photos (clockwise from top left): La Sécurité by Aabid Youssef, Sunnsetter by Andrew McLeod, the Royal Family by Hunter McNeil, OLGA by Alex Carre

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jan 16, 2024

Temperatures dropped in Toronto over the weekend, and Rachel Bobbitt's closing words from "Two Bit" rung out as a prelude to the frigid journey home from Longboat Hall we were about to embark on: "It's getting late."

Between that show on Saturday (January 13) and Life in Vacuum's headlining gig at the Monarch Tavern on Friday (January 12), it was another unforgettable instalment in this year's Class of 2024 concert series, proudly supported by Mary Brown's Chicken. We're back this week with back-to-back nights at the Monarch on January 19 and 20 for Montreal's biggest underground art-punk breakouts of 2023, the Norfolk County post-rock artist making psychedelic waves and many more.

January 19: Monarch Tavern


Andrew McLeod speaks apologetically when trying to define the genre of their Sunnsetter project, which has touchstones in showgaze, slowcore, post-rock, bedroom pop and beyond. Whatever it is, it's good — and you can expect more of it in 2024, with the follow-up to last year's The best that i can be. already in the works. They may even preview a new song at the Monarch, where they'll be joined by the legendary Toronto cellist Michael Peter Olsen for part of the set. "We're in a transition period and have been for some time," McLeod tells Exclaim! of the state of the Canadian music industry, noting the devastating loss of income from CBC Radio 3's satellite channel in late 2022. "We need to find new ways once again to stay on top of things and make sure artists are actually getting paid." 

The Royal Family

This is exactly the type of loving-thy-neighbour relationship the Royal Family's fellow Andrew is envisioning for the scene in 2024. The community of corgi lovers will be sure to assemble for the band's set on Friday (January 12) with the dog-whistle draw of their ubiquitous string stylings. "When performing, the seven-piece piece band emits a sound that can be rocking at times, and at times serene," says the Beyoncé-like Andrew, whose surname is not to be found (monarchy and mystery, people!), "though it is overtly psychedelic at all times." In other things royal and recondite, he says the band are looking forward to discovering the noblest new music through Class Of.


Sorry, post-country quartet Westelaken can't come to the phone right now. Why? They're steaming mushrooms. Or at least this is what we've been led to believe based on their most recent album, I Am Steaming Mushrooms, which they plan on touring even further across the US before their visas expire in 2024. The band's Jordan Seccareccia and Lucas Temor have fond memories of high-energy sets from Hobby and Steel Saddle during last year's Class of 2023 series, but can we expect the same from Westelaken? "We try to hold ourselves in a state of learning how to play music together and, if done right, the sound is shaped directly by a need to carry the lyrics," they tell Exclaim!, so it's anybody's guess. 


For Burs, it's the small things that stick with you, so they're aiming for more sizzle in the ride this year. The four-piece are also working on their sophomore album, the follow-up to 2022's Holding Patterns. There probably isn't a more fitting month for their self-described "Drone-y Mitchell" brand of psych-folk than January, whether or not there's an actual river to skate on to the Monarch for "the homecoming that is being placed on an unlikely bill with three other bands that we know and love." Elsewhere in 2024, Burs are hoping for an influx in house shows and crossing their fingers that the CD renaissance fully takes hold — "vinyl is sick but so freakishly expensive."

January 20: Monarch Tavern

La Sécurité

Just about every riot grrrl!-indebted lyric from La Sécurité's debut LP, Stay Safe!, a Great Canadian Album You Might Have Missed in 2023, could indeed emblazon a graphic tee from the venerable scene wonderland that is Hot Topic. But they're also a hot topic! Already a supergroup at their inception (featuring Laurence-Anne and members of Choses Sauvages, Jesuslesfilles and more), in the last year or so, the art-punk ensemble have taken the world by storm with their first European tour and second SXSW showcase already on the books for 2024. They'll kick off the year — which drummer Kenny Smith foresees ushering in the butt rock revival the Exclaim! staff's karaoke sessions have been waiting for — at the Monarch with sweaty, post-disco grooves.


Intentionally or not, I hold a place in my heart every year for that one act in the series that are graduates again (can you tell I'm over-schooled?). This year, it's OLGA — the "American Apparel edge-lord indie shleaze" (according to a piece of Instagram hate mail) duo of Nic Waterman (Vypers) and Julia Robins, who you may remember from Class of 2022! Since then, they're been honing their techno-disco chops and hoarding Vaseline: "We're releasing our debut full-length record in May, via repurposed porn magazines and the internet," they tell Exclaim!. They advise you to stay tuned for the Pornhub promotional campaign, and not to waste any of 2024 worrying about Metric; they'll probably be fine.


This couldn't be better timing for StillWaves. The dark wavers are releasing a new album Undiagnosed this Friday (January 19) — the day before they play the Monarch — via Safe Sounds. If you're not familiar yet, you can almost guarantee only a degree or two of separation from StillWaves within the local scene: not only are they pals with billmates OLGA, but the band's Daniel Carlyle saw La Sécurité open for Breeze (they record with frontperson Josh Korody) the last time they were in town. Their style is likewise a great fit, with dark '80s-inspired danceability packing a post-punk punch "and a dollop of shoegaze," says Carlyle, who sees DIY festivals like Project Nowhere continuing to grow in 2024.


Every member of Arenas is 6'7", if that matters. According to drummer/vocalist Mike Scott, you're going to want to swipe right on the band for their punchy, fresh take on mid-2000s rock nostalgia. They're releasing a project they're very excited about this year and are laser-focussed on creating amid such a fertile landscape — locally in Toronto, citing the likes of Jay Feelbender and Thermal as friends and favourites, and in the Canadian music industry at large. "DEBBY FRIDAY, JayWood, Tinge, Fold Paper; there's no shortage of diversity, talent or passion in this country," says Scott — and since most of our big venues are in fact hockey rinks, Arenas were forged in that Zamboni-smooth tradition.

As always, see the Facebook event links for more information on this week's shows and the rest of the Class of 2024 concert series, presented in partnership with the City of Toronto's Music Office. Advance tickets are on sale now via Showclix, and you can also enter to win your way in.

Next up:
01/26 Cam Kahin / WEBB / Sun Junkies / Shiv and the Carvers - Nineteen Seventy Eight
01/27 The High Loves / Nicolette & the Nobodies / Emma Beckett / Fighting Chance - Longboat Hall


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