"When you play a show in an unconventional space, the audience have their guard down"
It’s barely even 7am in Toronto and Deliluh’s Kyle Knapp is sitting outside discussing his band’s new EP whilst a wild rabbit stares inquisitively back at him. It’s a curious coincidence – ‘Rabbit’ titles the fourth track off ‘Oath of Intent’ and as Knapp is quick to tell me, “you just don’t often see that kind of thing in Toronto.”
Something else you don’t see a lot in Toronto are conventional performance spaces. In recent years, venues have fallen like dominos and left scenes and communities starved of any means to flourish. “There used to be loads of frequented venues, but a lot have either shut down or been pushed further out from the downtown core,” explains Knapp. “There’s quite a lot of discourse about the ‘venue crisis’. It’s become this weird buzz word. It’s forced musicians to seek out new spaces and explore different ways to put on shows and perform.”
Government regulation and high rent prices, it’s an issue all too familiar for most modern cities. Yet buried somewhere between the forgotten venues and gentrified apartment blocks Deliluh and a tight-knit group of art-rock bands are thriving from their living rooms. “For us, we enjoy exploring alternative sonic spaces because it’s a challenge from a performance standpoint. When we practice, it’s either in my living room or bedroom. We don’t have a rehearsal space so we’re fairly used to the confines of a tight room. When you play a show in an unconventional space, the audience have their guard down. I think people appreciate the experience and it makes for a memorable show.”
The torch for hosting live music events in Toronto is changing bearer: away from the establishment and into the hand of the people. Deliluh’s infamous late-night apartment shows provided a frivolous breeding ground for rock subculture as well as extend a supporting arm to a forgotten community. “It was kind of lawless, but it was great. People always had nice things to say after a show. We never had any issues in terms of security and we never really had to mitigate any trouble. When people are in your home, they tend to respect it as such.”
But as frequently as illegal spaces establish themselves, they’re often shut down quickly. Remorsefully Knapp recalls “the guy who owns the shop underneath my apartment told us we’d received a noise complaint. Turns out the city had filed an official warning and the owner of the building said if it happens again, we’d all be out. We haven’t had any huge, freak out shows there for a while now.” Knapp doesn’t seem to care all that much. His living room inspired a new generation of lawbreakers to host their own shows, many of which Deliluh continue to perform at.
“Running an illegal space seems risky and dangerous but once you strip away the issues surrounding legality it puts the power and control to the people. There isn’t a huge bouncer at the door and there might not even be a cover charge; people will just pay what they can. The guy doing sound might also be bartending or something and there’s no strict curfew to abide by. All these things amount to a more relaxed environment because there aren’t any rules cemented in.”