The Casbah 306 King Street West
When it was announced that the Casbah Lounge was shutting its doors for good and that a new business venture would be taking over, it was bittersweet. It’s the end of an era for the concert space, but also the beginning of a new one. The main hall of The Casbah will of course rage on and will continue to be one of the city’s best concert venues. But it was extremely sentimental to say farewell to the Lounge after a 10-year run.
To send off Casbah Lounge, owner William “Brodie” Schwendiman booked three secret bands for the final three shows. The acts were kept a secret until the night of, when the audiences rolled in. And it was also all for a great cause – proceeds from ticket sales went to Neighbour 2 Neighbour Centre.
After Steph attended the previous night (Arkells!), we had a hinting feeling that another mystery band might be The Dirty Nil – a band that’s been loyal to The Casbah and played some of their very first shows in the Lounge.
I arrived with Grant Winestock after dinner next door at La Luna (entirely fitting that we would eat at the Hamilton staple and Casbah’s neighbour). We were among the first there, which left time to take in the surroundings for what would be just about the last time. Soon enough, in walked Nil frontman Luke Bentham, hood up around his head (I joked he was incognito), followed by drummer Kyle Fisher. The cat was outta the bag!
I was pumped to see The Dirty Nil because it had been way too long since I had seen their live show. I had to miss their classic Casbah December show, and in all my running around that day, I even missed them at Supercrawl. I kept hearing from everyone who saw them at the festival that it was one of their best performances yet.
Luke, Kyle, and bassist Dave Nardi hopped onstage and I was super excited for a Nil show in the small space. Now, if this had been a publicized Nil show, the place would have been rammed with eager fans ready to throw down. I don’t know if everyone in this unsuspecting audience were braced for what they were about to see. It ended up being the tamest audience I’ve ever seen at a Nil show, but the band always delivers an electric energy no matter what the room.
They played a mix of new and older songs, plus some covers. It was great to hear new tunes off their EP Smite which was to be released a couple of weeks later. Steph beelined for their set list at the end (she ended up being three for three – snatching up all three set lists for these last Casbah shows!) but the trio really just made the set up as they felt it.
The band brought Brodie onstage at one point and he told us how The Nil got their start at Casbah, saying they once opened for Gob and brought so many of their friends and family out, practically more than the headlining band did.
In a nice moment, Dave took a second to say he was playing with his two best friends. That’s the main thing I take away from The Nil each time I see them – that they have such a blast playing together. They just love doing what they do. It was also the most I’ve ever seen Dave speak at a show (partly due to insisting they must finish all the beer onstage before their set was up!)
The show got a little sloppy (in a good, Dirty Nil kinda way!), and the more I think about it, the more I feel like it was actually the perfect way to send off the Lounge. Dave raising his bass overhead and smashing it into the ground, then turning and driving it into the amp, Kyle flying across the stage overtop of his bass drum, colliding head-on into Luke, who then knocked into me – they went out with a bang. So many moment during their set made me laugh. The Nil are always the most fun.
Check out some footage I took of “Fuckin’ Up Young”/”Zombie Eyed.”
From a packed Arkells show to a rowdy Dirty Nil rampage, it was night and day, but in the best way. Both were killer shows that celebrated the Lounge. We were ready for round 3!
All photos taken on disposable camera by Steph Dubik @stephdubik