The power of hope

Local indie darlings headline a show at the revitalised The Rialto

The Luyas spearhead The Rialto for a night of music and environmental support. Photo by Nick Bostick.

As the dust settles on the now-condemned Green Room on St. Laurent Boulevard after a recent fire, many in the city lament the loss of another mid-sized local venue.

However, as one building falls, a bright light appears in the horizon in the form of the Parc Avenue institution The Rialto. The venue, under new management, wishes to check out the room’s viability as a live hall and local sweethearts The Luyas will test the waters tomorrow night, with openers Avec pas d’casque and The Hoof and The Heel.

The Luyas have had a busy 2010 so far. They played a gig at the Vancouver Olympics as well as shows in New York City–such as opening for Owen Pallett and playing one of the record release parties thrown by indie behemoths The National–and sporadic studio sessions have kept the quartet quite busy, as tomorrow night’s show is yet another notch on the band’s pretty fancy belt.

Vocalist/guitarist/moodswinger of The Luyas Jessie Stein is jazzed by the prospect of playing such a large venue. “I’m excited to be in a beautiful room and be with a bunch of people I know and don’t know,” said Stein.

Opening band Avec pas d’casque was handpicked for the gig for two reasons: first, they’re Stein’s favourite local band at the moment and they’re a francophone band. “I don’t think there’s enough shows that have mixed linguistic bills. Our city is much bigger than it feels,” explained Stein.

Another potential drawing point is that the entrance fee is a suggested donation of $5, which will go towards The Coalition To Restore Coastal Louisiana, a non-profit advocacy group mandated to both preserving and protecting the coastline in light of the recent British Petroleum oil platform leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Although it is totally BP’s responsibility to pay for everything, they’re [going] to find a way not to. The reality of the situation, sadly, is that BP is not going to pay for the clean-up,” explains Stein. “Even though it’s nobody’s responsibility per se, I really believe in supporting the groups that do things at a grassroots level […] I just think that it’s important to support people who feel compelled to try. The same thing in the arts, the same thing in activism. A lot of people want to do good things but don’t have the resources to.”

Stein can explain the raison d’être for the suggested donation. Instead of simply integrating it into the ticket price, “it’s a choice to throw a couple of bucks in a different pocket, as opposed to giving all the money to the rock and roll bands, who definitely need it, don’t get me wrong. I can speak for The Luyas and we’re pretty broke,” said Stein. “But [the point is that] it feels like a really cool cultural city event and I want it to be great for everyone who’s there.”

She continued to explain that perhaps it should be about more than simply a rock show. “Once it starts to feel like it’s not just about the rock bands and the music and the art, [it will] be about something a little broader than just us, just performance, or community. It’s about caring for each other and trying hard in the face of mass adversity and possible failure.”

The Luyas play with The Hoof and The Heel and Ave pas d’casque June 9 at The Rialto (5723 Ave. du Parc) at 9 pm. $5 at the door.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 1, published June 11, 2010.