Sort-of review: Dear Rouge at Mill Street Beer Hall in Toronto, August 18, 2016

Dear Rouge at Mill StreetI’ve never been one of those “I have to meet my favourite musicians” guys. One of my two all time favourites is Juliana Hatfield. She hasn’t played Toronto in a few years, but she always used to stop by Lee’s Palace, back when it was the most beautiful of weird little venues. I had a few occasions where if I’d wanted to, I could have talked to her before a show. But I just didn’t want to. With her in particular, I think I’d built up this whole thing in my mind that we were kindred spirits, but part of that meant we were both quiet people and I didn’t want to risk anything either shattering illusions or becoming awkward due to mutual quietness. It’s almost ironic what a deafening social time bomb mutual quietness is.

But tonight, instigated by my friend Paul, I decided to just say hi to the immensely talented husband and wife team of Drew and Danielle McTaggart of Dear Rouge. They were fresh off a short but sensational set for The Toronto Star at the Mill Street Beer Hall. I watched, both before and after the set, as they were profoundly gracious with fans, treating them like longtime friends. And I kind of think that’s how they regard their fans to some extent. Drew told us that when they write and perform songs, so much of it is about their relationship with their fans and how their fans’ passion and enthusiasm fuels them. They’re not just writing for themselves.

We talked to both Drew and Danielle about the show we saw last year at The Mod Club. In my review, I wrote about how profound and joyous an experience it seemed to be for them, you could just see it radiating off them on stage. Their joy and the crowd’s joy bounced off each other all night, creating a cacophony of musical bliss. So it was gratifying to hear both say what a profound experience it was for them, too. Drew ranked it among their top five.

Danielle said I looked familiar, we hugged hello. She remembered my Twitter handle and insisted that Paul and I keep in touch with them. Like we were old friends.

So, yeah, it took a while for me to finally talk to musicians I admired. No illusions were shattered. Quite the opposite. New ones were created: if I didn’t think we were best friends when Drew did an interview for the blog or when they said sweet things on Twitter about my review of the Mod Club show, I sure do now. Can’t wait to see you again, best friends! Hey, at least I acknowledge that it’s an illusion (or delusion).

Yes, this was a review of a show that barely acknowledged the music, which was intimate and beautiful and acoustic and showed off Danielle’s pristine natural voice and how Drew’s blends gorgeously into it. But it was about music in a broader sense. This experience once again affirmed for me the power music has to unite people in joy and something like friendship, even if it’s not friendship in a traditional sense; the kind of friendship brought by a beautiful shared experience and can exist within itself for as long as you want it to.

Okay, I’ll close with the photographic evidence: the author and someone significantly more photogenic than him.

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