Oso Oso / The Sidekicks

Sneaky Dee's, Toronto ON, September 21

Photo: Stephen McGill

BY Cam LindsayPublished Sep 22, 2019

One of the last times Long Island's Oso Oso (aka Jade Lilitri) played Toronto, it was to promote 2017's The Yunahon Mixtape at the Hard Luck, opening for emo heroes the Hotelier, a band with whom he even briefly played guitar. But with such an enthusiastic response to his new album, Basking in the Glow, it feels like Lilitri won't need to sign on for a support slot any time soon (though he will be supporting Manchester Orchestra in late November, probably to feel out those big theatres he'll be headlining soon).
This Toronto return marked an early all-ages show that was uncomfortably jam-packed, in the first two-thirds of the room, with his ever-growing club of diehard fans. Standing in front of a backdrop mirroring Basking's light bulb strewn cover, things got off to a shocking start — he received literal shocks from the mic following opener, "The View." But Lilitri simply noted it and shook it off.
The crowd wasted no time joining in on vocals for any of the songs from all three of his albums. The band met the reaction with just as much passion in return. The drums on Yunahon's "The Walk" sounded massive — like Billy Squier's "The Stroke" massive — and the carefree potency of "Basking in the Glow" seemed to reverberate all through the room.
Lilitri verified the all-ages event by acknowledging two parents he spotted in the back and dedicating "A Morning Song" to them because it "reminded me of when I was a kid and my parents taking me to shows." Instead of waiting for his guitarist to fix some broken strings, Lilitri avoided any delay by playing "This Must Be My Exit" solo. Once it was fixed, they launched into "Reindeer Games," which inspired mass sing along and pogoing that felt as though we were destined to fall through the floor onto the patrons dining below.
As they left us with last year's digital single, "gb/ol h/nf," Lilitri expressed how grateful he was that people cared enough to come out. Judging by the passion of the crowd, Oso Oso exuded serious Dashboard Confessional vibes, because this band sure is loved to the extreme.
Openers the Sidekicks from Columbus, OH were already familiar with Sneaky Dee's, having played here on their previous tour. In fact, that gig proved to be fateful as they crossed the border. Frontman Steve Ciolek admitted that customs asked where they were playing, and when they said Sneaky Dee's she responded, "'They have the best nachos there.' So thanks to Sneaky Dee's. That was our way into the country."
The Sidekicks definitely brought energy with them over the border, jumping around and swinging windmills. Ciolek, in a white jumpsuit, was always moving, matching the pep of the band's power-pop melodies with his own vibrant panache. During "Medium in the Middle" he stepped off stage and joined in with the crowd. At times the drums were a bit too loud and distracting, but not enough to overshadow the strong hooks of tracks like new singles, "Feed II" and "Ode to Jerry," and the standout from last year's Happiness Hours, "Don't Feel Like Dancing."

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