GRACE! in the House
Grace! Was in the house – The Old Eton House to be exact – and off I went to experience this new band. The chef, décor and service will not make this venue famous, but perhaps infamous in its own upscale dive bar way. It had chipped and pitted terrazzo floors, a section of booth seating, a few pool tables, and a bar which reminded me of a suburban basement from the 1970’s on steroids. The place was moderately full when I arrived about 15 minutes before show time, just in time to catch sound check. Before long, the place was packed with affluent, relaxed former yuppies now past their best before date, but still ready to dance and party like it’s 1989. I was glad I had arrived when I did, and in future would plan to arrive even earlier to be assured of a good choice of seating.
Despite some of the less thrilling aspects of the venue, this band, GRACE! Is definitely worth the modest cover charge. GRACE! Is made up of nine extremely talented women, each capable of carrying a show in her own right – two saxes, a trumpet, keyboards, drums, bass, lead guitar and two lead vocalists. When thrown together on stage, these women become a force of sound expressing several genres, with strong vocalists who present both a united front of exceptional harmonies and powerful solo vocals, reminiscent of many great recording artists past and present. Even a few minor technical issues could not detract from the artistry of these women.
The dance floor was packed almost constantly with an interesting mix of 40+ heteros, and lesbians of indeterminate ages, including one absolutely striking tall blonde whom my table-mate suggested was the inspiration when the band played “Brick House”. I found myself singing along and bopping to many of the songs from the eclectic progression of eras and genres, from a great opening of The Supremes’ “Baby love”, with lead vocalist Mae, through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, including a phenomenal rendition by lead guitarist, Selena of Prince’s classic “Kiss”. I had FUN. I stayed far later than I had intended simply because every time I thought about leaving, this wonderful band would start another of those, “OMG, I LOVE this!” songs. I had entered retro heaven and nothing was getting me out the door until it was all over.
I would strongly recommend anyone who is free on March 21 to attend the next show of GRACE! at The Old Eton House. Believe me, I will be watching for these women to perform in other venues in the future!
Grace! Friday, Feb.6, 2015 – The Old Eton House – 710 Danforth Avenue http://www.etonhouse.ca/