Gig Day offers a fly-on-the-wall view of artists leading up to, during, and after a performance. We take a “what will be, shall be” approach that provides glimpses into an artist’s or band’s personality, process and dynamic.
Thank you to Pony Girl for being the first “test subject” for this series.
July 22, 2022: Toronto, ON
Ottawa-Hull art-rockers and recent Paper Bag Records signees, Pony Girl, play their second of a two-date tour opening for labelmates, Royal Canoe, at The Garrison in Toronto. DOMINIONATED contributor Matt Hertendy is hanging out with the band in the lead-up to tonight’s show.
Pony Girl load into The Garrison. I did not get any photos of the procession of gear going in as I was asked to help wheel in a large synth. Honorary roadie status, achieved.
Quick hellos to sound engineers, and then the crucial question for any band on the road: “What do we eat?”
The band hits the pavement, off to grab a bite before soundcheck. They decided on bibimbap from the nearby takeout joint, Hawk & Chick.
While waiting for the food, we stopped at a Shoppers Drug Mart across the street for cold drinks on a sweltering day. I once got in trouble for taking a picture inside of a Shoppers (something about the vendor’s proprietary information), so I did not join. Besides, we’ve all seen inside a Shoppers.
Food is ready. Followed by the next crucial question: “Where do we eat this?” There is a small parkette just down the road. Bassist Gregg Clark tells me, “Most of being on tour is about eating.”
The cold drinks are coming in handy on this hot walk.
We arrive at the parkette to find it is nothing more than some grass, a curb and a chicken sculpture. The band each takes a piece of the curb and digs in. The band tells me that drummer Mili Hong, having grown up in South Korea, is the expert on any given city’s best Korean cuisine.
Guitarist Julien Alain leans over and declares, “Game plan”. The band launches into problem-solving mode, talking through a challenging section of their set which has been giving them trouble.
“Someone could just yell ‘one, two, three, four,’” is one suggestion. They don’t go with that one.
Dinner is over, and it’s back to The Garrison for sound check (and also air conditioning), where Royal Canoe is just wrapping up, running through opener “Butterfalls” a few times.
Royal Canoe makes room and it’s go-time for Pony Girl. Gear, cables and clarinet for days.
Levels are set and each element of Pony Girl’s expansive sound are mixed for the space and for their individual monitors. Finally, they give a song a whirl and make some minor adjustments on the go.
With the soundcheck complete, the band have a quick check in with one another. They have an hour to relax, get in the zone, or in the case of a few members, go down the road to visit with folks from their label, Paper Bag Records.
With all bandmates back in the building, it’s time for Pony Girl to retreat to the greenroom as concertgoers fill the room.
Pony Girl takes the stage. Their enormous and complex sound sinks into the crowd, playing a number of new songs off their forthcoming album, Enny One Wil Love You. Pony Girl is a mesmerizing act to see and hear live. They make a number of new fans this night, I am sure of it.
Pony Girl finish their set and it’s time to tear down. Perhaps it’s because I come from a theatre background where we try our best (and usually fail) to hide these kinds of things, but I find the turnover super fascinating. I’m impressed watching the organized chaos of navigating wires and cases and packing everything up so that it is ready for the next show.
The gang heads out to the main room to mingle with the crowd and take in Royal Canoe’s set. The Winnipeg play a handful of new songs off their latest album, Sidelining, as well as reaching all the way back for fan favourites such as “Bathtubs” and “Button Fumbla.”
Thanks to Pony Girl for letting me hang out with them for an evening.
Their upcoming album, Enny One Wil Love You, is out on October 14, 2022.