The Sonic City
Review: The Muffs return to Toronto
When I had the opportunity to see Los Angeles based band The Muffs this past weekend, I was rather excited. The band had their heyday during the 1990s, and as someone who was born in 1984 and lived though a 1998-2003 era of music during high school, I always felt that I grew up through a rather musically stale era. This disinterest I had in the mainstream charts of my teenage years ignited a desire to look back to the artists of earlier eras; even if it was only as far back as the early 1990s when The Muffs first came onto the scene. This was the band’s first T.O. appearance since 1999. With a recent album out last year titled Whoop Dee Do, it was also my first opportunity to see them perform live.
I always find these sorts of concerts to be interesting. Sometimes, a lot changes over a couple decades, and we witness the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some still have it, and some for whatever reason, simply don’t. On this particular evening however, The Muffs proved that they are still as much a force as they were decades ago. Playing to a packed crowd at The Horseshoe Tavern, there was a high level of energy and feedback with the audience as the band played many of the crowd’s favourite hits. While the band sounded tight, they were also in high spirits; they laughed, told jokes, and shared stories from their many years together; even recalling a gig they did many years back at Lee’s Palace.
With the aesthetic feel of an early-1990s alternative punk show, it was definitely an evening to rekindle the youth of many in attendance that night too, but also visibly evident was the number of much younger people there (even younger than myself). Noticing this when discussing music from their 1993 release, vocalist Kim Shattuck joked that many probably weren’t even born when they were performing those songs. Clearly, there was a universal appeal here that bridged both young and old generations.
While I missed out on seeing The Muffs during their heyday of the early-90s, this show was definitely the next best thing. Much of the of the pretentious jock-rock and flavour-of-the-week artists worshiped in the halls of my high school days have all since vanished, but The Muffs have managed to retain staying power both before and after the musical shifts and upheavals of the late-90s, and beyond. I’m not sure when they will return, but when they do, they’re an act well worth checking out!
About the Author
Casey Robertson is a genderqueer human rights activist, musician ,composer, and graduate student researching musicology and cultural theory. In recent years he has been involved with the committees of LGBTQA projects such as the Durham Pride Prom, Allies for Equality, and Queerstock Canada. He also served as a member of the board of directors for PFLAG Durham Region from 2012-2014, where he was a member of the peer2peer support team and a facilitator for monthly sharing evenings. Casey currently resides in the Church-Wellesley Village of Toronto and enjoys spending his free time scoring independent film projects and playing with his band Liberty Street, while on the constant search to discover new artists of all expressive forms. Follow Casey on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at CaseyRobertson.net