Live Music: Rhye at The Great Hall in Toronto

Rhye at Great Hall Toronto 2013

Saturday had us hitting up the Great Hall for one of our favourite new acts, Rhye. 2012 saw Rhye release two amazing singles, “Open” and “The Fall” shortly followed by their first LP, Woman. Rhye was built from a collaboration between two underground, multi-talented musicians: Denmark native Robin Braun (aka Robin Hannibal) and Toronto-born Mike Milosh. We’ve been big fans of Hannibal’s earlier work as a part of Owusu & Hannibal and Parallel Dance Ensemble amongst other projects, so once the album dropped we knew we had to see him, and the rest of Rhye, live.

Almost late for the posted 9pm start time, we arrived at a surprisingly serene Great Hall finding the venue at its most intimate. Dim house lights, sporadic groups of large candles combined with rows of chairs set up on the dance floor, gave the space the feel of a small theatre. Printed signs asking the crowd to refrain from taking pictures and videos gave us the feeling we were all a part of an exclusive, mysterious event. As the band started off a slow build into their opening song, Milosh sung his first few notes giving us all  a collective shiver.

Many of the songs from Woman are complemented by delicate string sections – so we were happy to see a violinist and cellist on stage with the other four members of the band (keyboards, bass, drums and vocals from Milosh). What struck us most, from a very long list of positive impressions made during the show, was Milosh’s voice. Too often these days vocal tracks are propped up by studio techniques, leaving audiences disappointed when those vocals can’t be replicated live. However, that is NOT the case with Mike Milosh. Initial impressions of their vocals lead unfamiliar listeners to believe Rhye is fronted by Sade or someone sounding like her, but it’s Milosh and his unmistakable tone and phrasing that defines their sound. Let’s just say we were blown away by how fabulous his voice sounded live!

Despite only having a ten track album to their credit, Rhye “tried to extend these songs into longer versions”, to stretch the show out as long as possible. None of us wanted it to end – especially a friend and his crew, who arrived to catch just a handful of the songs, as many were skeptical that the show would actually start around 9pm. We’re sure next time the band rolls into town, fans will make a pointed effort to ensure they don’t miss a minute. Based on the epic performance that Rhye delivered this time around, we have a feeling the buzz from this show elicited enough FOMO to ensure another sold-out show for their return to Toronto – whenever that may be!