The Drake Hotel 1150 Queen Street West, Toronto
After ten years together, The Rest have parted ways as a band. Selfishly, I can’t help but wish I had discovered them sooner, having only experienced a small bit of that phenomenal career. The band is one of the most special groups I’ve come across throughout my I Heart Hamilton journey, and well beyond that.
What a run they’ve had together, and I’m grateful for the times I got to see them. My first introduction was seeing Adam Bentley perform solo at Threshold Studio and I remember being blown away by his vocals. I’ll never forget their stunning performance at Christ’s Church Cathedral for Seesaw‘s Album Release and my excitement at this past year’s Hamilton Music Awards when that album won Record of the Year. I also had the opportunity to get a sense of their rich history as a band when I toured Catherine North, where their second album was recorded with the late Dan Achen.
Disappointed that I would have to miss The Rest’s final show due to hosting The Playlist 2.0 fundraiser event, I was thrilled when they announced their second-to-last show would be in Toronto. Cue the Detour! Accompanied by Mark Furukawa, Dr. Disc, himself, we drove up to see them at The Drake.
I had never been to The Drake and I loved the vibe of it right away. There is a restaurant above and the venue, The Underground, is downstairs. A bright disco ball shone rotating lights around the floor and walls. There were two big screens at the sides of the room, a spacious dancefloor, and bar at the back. My favourite details were the lit-up signs that read, “Kiss Kiss,” “Bang Bang,” and “Shake Shake.”
A nice gesture for The Rest’s final two shows was to give everyone with a ticket a piece of their merch. There was a table full of t-shirts, CDs, vinyl, even pillowcases! I ended up choosing a copy of the aforementioned second album, Everyone All At Once. We mingled around the table as Lonnie in the Garden and The Folk opened the show and I was able to speak with five out of the seven members of The Rest. Everyone was in good spirits even though it must have felt like a mix of emotions for them, to be coming so close to their final show.
When they took the stage, The Rest launched into “The Last Day” as their first song and immediately the emotion struck me like a wave and I felt my eyes start to glisten and I had to take a deep breath. The Rest are of one of those rare bands for me that produce music that you feel right down to your bones. There is this intangible, magical quality to their music. I just know it when I feel it.
It was a nice, intimate setting to see the band in. The audience was filled with people who you could tell were supportive of the band as we all moved along to the rhythms, some even singing along.
As they played on, I felt the weight of The Rest’s performance. With each song, it hit home that it was the last time I was ever going to see this, and I’m sure many in the crowd felt the same. There is always an incredible chemistry between these musicians and friends but there was a different energy for this one; they all played with an added intensity. It was particularly moving to watch Adam sing with such emotion.
Even amid the more somber emotions of the night, there was bursts of humour. At one point, an audience member broke the seriousness with, “Do you guys do shots?” Shots of whiskey and tequila were passed up to the stage and distributed amongst them. Adam joked that Steve doesn’t drink and this may lead to the beginning of his downward spiral.
The Rest’s music is sweeping and expansive and covers a range of emotions. From the heavier “Who Knows” to the joyful “Laughing Yearning” (it made me smile to see Anna and Matty shout their “Woo!” in the song) their set took us to many different places. Rich, layered, and orchestral, they’re a force. I took time to capture some photos and video but all you could do was just soak it all in and be in the moment.
Finishing their last song, the band all paused to hug one another and look out into the audience with gratitude. It was a lovely moment. The crowd roared for more, but they only returned to take a final bow. Encores occur so often that they have almost lost their impact, so to see The Rest end the show that way, on their own terms, was just perfect.
It’s a strange feeling knowing you’re doing something for the last time. It’s sad, but there is also something kind of comforting about the finality. If I was this moved as a fan, I can’t imagine how it must have felt for the band, knowing the songs they were playing were counting down to the last they would ever perform together. It was a beautiful show – moving and powerful.
My hats off to The Rest! I know we will be seeing you around in other musical endeavours soon enough but it’s still hard to let you go.