Editorial Feature: DD/MM/YYYY – A Look Back At A “Toronto Scene” Staple
On November 10th, 2011 (11/11/11) Toronto experimental indie rockers DD/MM/YYYY played their last show to a sold-out crowd at The Bathurst Center. The finale fittingly captured eight years of precise chemistry and the wild energy and intricacy of the band’s unparalleled sound; still, there was an unmistakable bittersweet tinge to the event.
After their numerous successful tours across North America, Europe and Asia, I was thankful to have tickets to see the closing of such an abstract, artistic and theatrical band, but the show was celebrated with a heavy heart over the departure of such a revered local group.
The Bathurst Center was layered with visuals to compliment the band’s mosaic: shards of painter’s plastic hung from clusters of helium balloons that floated above the crowd, while a large white sheet reached from floor to ceiling – catching and illuminating electric coloured light from behind the band. As soon as DD/MM/YYYY took the stage, a cycle of 80s-inspired pixel art overflowed the venue from a projector at the back. It was busy and complex: quite akin to DD/MM/YYYY.
Michigan art-rockers Child Bite opened the show with fistfuls of energy, mixing heavy guitar riffs and punchy drums over-top of the synth and howling vocals of frontman Shawn Knight. The intensity of the quintet spread quickly: from one jumping, fist-pumping fan, to a half-dozen moshers. By the end of their set, the crowd was buzzing and eager for the noise to come.
True to form, the DD/MM/YYYY came out in full force, projecting each song with exaggerated and dramatic showmanship. In less than a minute, their high-tempo, spastic rock doubled the crowd in the mosh pit, and the venue’s population of flailing residents continued to grow late into the set.
Ghostly waning clusters of balloons that floated too low quickly became subject to poppy pins while others were torn apart so that heavier cylindrical balloons could be torpedoed across the crowd – adding a pain-free hazard to the band’s performance.
The set list for the show reached back through DD/MM/YYYY’s entire discography, playing selections from their 2004 release Blue Screen of Death and crowd favourites like “Simple Life”, and “Mr. T Cereal” from their 2007 Album Are They Masks? – switching instruments and time signatures faster than you could keep pace, DD/MM/YYYY masterfully belted out a set that paid fitting tribute to their distinctive sound.
After two hours of noise-filled anthems, the band calmed the tone of the show with a melodic electronic instrumental piece that led into a grizzly buzz. With the mosh pit slowing and the performers dripping in sweat, lead vocalist Matt King called out, “last song” and let the words hang in the pixelated haze. I caught glimpse of one fan wiping her eyes, while others cheered on the electronic buzz until the band burst into their last rendition of the upbeat and fast-paced “Bronzage”.
After what the band has called 574(ish) shows in 18 countries on three different continents, DD/MM/YYYY has influenced bands and audiences in numerous international underground scenes. The first time I saw them live was at The Silver Dollar Room in 2007, where I can vividly remember watching the band rigidly collapse on top of one-another while dramatically wailing out social satire and shredding away at their guitars.
Fans can look forward to four of the five band members reforming together as a new project called Absolutely Free, though the beloved Torontonian quintet ended their last show at 1:11am on 11/11/11 to a reception of cheers, smiles and an abundance of high fives: it was clearly evident that they will be greatly missed.
- KEEGAN TREMBLAY
[EDITOR'S NOTE: For those who were never fortunate enough to see DD/MM/YYYY live (or if you'd like to relive some fond memories), click here for our episode of WIRED with the group from their shoulder-to-shoulder Sneaky Dees show at NXNE 2011]