Black Phoenix Orchestra at Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (CMW 2011) – Review and photos

March 11, 2011

Black Phoenix Orchestra at Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto - photo by Brian Banks, Music ViceThe calm before the storm… Black Phoenix Orchestra moments before starting their set

The Gig: Black Phoenix Orchestra (part of Canadian Music Fest 2011)
Where: The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, Ontario
When: 9 March 2011
In One Word:  Legit

It’s 12.30am at the ‘legendary’ Horseshoe Tavern. It’s the opening night of Canadian Music Week 2011. The room is full of pretty girls and nerdy guys. Some bright and annoying boy band just played. They sucked… the oxygen right out of the room.


I was ready to write the night off.



Black Phoenix Orchestra.

From the moment they took the stage I knew something was on. As they plugged in, I had a feeling I was about to see a real rock band and not just another imitation. They looked like a real rock band – a rag-tag mob  (big burly frontman, lanky mop-haired smiler on bass, clean-cut lead guitarist and a whippersnapper drummer), wearing various shades of black. More importantly, they sounded like a real band too. And by real I mean good. 


Calgary, Alberta’s Black Phoenix Orchestra delivered, right from the off. The band had clearly prepared well – including their efforts in creating the mood for their music, with a smoke machine and lights – and seemed focused and fully in the zone. By the second song “I’m In Love”, a unanimous feeling of agreement could be felt inside the Horseshoe as Black Phoenix Orchestra played rock and roll that rocked with it’s own broody, badass cool vibe.

Blending psych, garage and hard rock sounds, a very competent rhythm section provided the thumping ambiance for the guitarists to blend in their tones over, with the cleaner lead guitar often contrasting that of singer Darren’s more effects-heavy, and wah-pedal driven tones.

I like my rock music to have some kind of pulse: Black Phoenix Orchestra have one, and it’s is thumping,  kicking, sometimes racing, and always bringing life to their music. Sometimes you hear a band and the music is just dead, hanging in the air -it doesn’t touch you, doesn’t move you, it’s nothing – but with BPO there is definitely something there, something to move you.  Something worth remembering. Or, as with my closing notes after a night of enduring frustratingly mediocre bands: “Finally something legit”.

© Brian Banks, Music Vice

Pictures of Black Phoenix Orchestra:

Brian Banks

Editor and Founder, Music Vice Magazine. Writer. Photographer. Poet. From Scotland. Not Ireland. Proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Rock N' Roll Don't Pay The Rent... 

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2 Responses to Black Phoenix Orchestra at Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (CMW 2011) – Review and photos

  1. samantha on March 12, 2011 at 11:55 am

    awesome read

  2. Teresa on March 13, 2011 at 3:18 am

    WOW!!!! Hey you whippersnapper drummer, how cool!!!!! We are all following the tour as best as we can. What a review!!!!! Congrats to you all!!!!

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