Thursday night I went to The Hideout to check out a band very new to the Toronto scene, Attagirl. I caught them once before at Clinton’s last month, rounding out the same line up they played with for this show (Poor Young Things and Salty Radio).
When I first heard them at Clinton’s having no idea who they were, I was impressed. Their name bothered me a bit, as ‘attagirl’ always struck me as that uncomfortable phrase creepy uncles say to little girls, but I can easily get past a name if the music is good, and it is. Real good. No surprise considering it includes former members of the now defunct Stop Drop, which went on to produce another great band – Topanga.
They unfortunately got the short end of the stick again, playing last just as they did at Clinton’s despite it being another show Salty Radio put on, billing themselves as the headlining act. Pro tip: headliners go last, ALWAYS, because it is a douche move to ask a new band to play with you when your whole audience leaves after you play. I overheard one of the SR guys getting mad at the Attagirl dudes for not playing until 2am, as apparently that was the deal SR worked up with the bar in order to get paid a certain amount that night. FYI Salts, new bands don’t have 200 songs to play.
Hopefully next time Salty will realize it’s their job to play til 2am, and it’s a joke to ask that of a band you left without an audience to play to. I’d advise other bands to avoid playing with Salty Radio at all costs unless you want to be associated with an act that is going to have a hard time getting any respect in the Toronto music scene. (Not just because of their shady dealings with other bands, but because the music is legitimately bad – lacks melody and they can’t sing).
Attagirl didn’t hit the stage until almost 1am and on a weeknight when you are a new band, that is bullshit. But there was a good group of us that waited out the cringe worthy Salty set for them to play, and despite the unbearable heat at The Hideout (apparently the A/C was busted, every band was noticeably dripping sweat all over the stage) they put on a good show.
The simple line up of a guitarist (Dan Cohen), bassist (Aaron Zack) and drummer (Eddy Kingsley) gives them a strong lo-fi sort of Pavement-y sound that I love. They only have three songs recorded right now (which you should listen to on their link above), but I was singing along to all of them when they came up as they’ve been on repeat since first watching them play. “Yossarian” is a perfect singalong tune that made for a great start to the show, and the catchy love song “Sleep A Little” was just as fantastic. But the highlight of the night for me was definitely hearing them play my favorite track, the melodic break up tune “Something To Believe In”.
The thing I might love most about this band is that they have a drummer who sings lead on some of the songs. If you know me you probably know of my love for Sloan’s Andrew Scott, the first singing drummer I ever witnessed (watching MuchMusic play “500 Up” as a 7 year old). It always seems like such an impossible thing to hit the drums while singing without having it sound messed up, so seeing Attagirl achieve this so spectacularly automatically put them on my good list.
They played a bunch of songs to a small crowd that was definitely into it, in rank heat, dripping of sweat under crazy lights, and still managed to sound great. It was so hot and loud that Eddy’s glass of water literally exploded next to him. In a less than ideal situation they pulled off a memorable set, and their group dynamic seems to have improved considerably since the first time I saw them. They all seem more comfortable together and comfortable on stage. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Attagirl, and have no doubt they will make a mark in Toronto as they develop their sound further.