The Silver Dollar’s iconic neon blue sign cast a hazy glow on the street below where a small group was huddled nearish but not directly next to the entrance. It didn’t look like this was the site of a concert and had I not been required to go, I probably would have flaked out and ended up  eating a warm bowl of ramen in Chinatown. There was no line of anxious concert-goers rubbing their hands together and lighting each other’s cigarettes. There was no intimidating bouncer standing outside the door. It looked like another cold, calm night on the corner of Spadina.

The crowd, as it turned out, was giving their lungs a break for the night opting to huddle just inside the doors with the bouncer, spilling over to every leather covered surface and square inch of floor. Not only was the main club packed to the brim with twenty-somethings in double cuffed pants and long socks but so was the back lounge, tucked away behind the bar. The crowd was gathered right in front of the stage with various people hanging over the sides of the surrounding booths trying to get a closer view.

The Silver Dollar tends to draw out good crowds for their alt-rock shows but Friday’s performance was a little different in nature. The bands were brought together for Exclaim!’s perfectly curated Class of 2017 event which is put on in partnership with concert promoter Dan Burke. This series features five nights of what they believe to be Canada’s up-and-coming musical talents.

At around 11:30 p.m., Partner began their sound check, starting only a few minutes later. Partner is composed of Lucy Niles and Josee Caron. Together they write, sing and play lead guitar for all of their music. Currently, their band also includes Daniel  Legere on guitar, Brendan Allison on drums and Kevin Braiser on bass.

No introduction will give Partner the credit they deserve. These women have all the makings of a major sensation. Their low-fi music is composed of perfected guitar riffs and an incredibly talented backing band. Their lyrics are catchy, honest and raw. They sing about things that matter. Ya know like friendships, weed, feminist-lesbian-amateur porn and getting the munchies. They take mundane moments and turn them into catchy anecdotes that capture what it’s like to be a rough-and-tumble young woman navigating life in the slow and hazy lane.

At around the midway point of their set, Caron and Niles looked over to stage left cuing a smoke machine to begin spewing dry ice across the stage floor. “We have to have that, cause it’s a weed song,” Caron explains, “it symbolizes weed.” This self-proclaimed weed song isn’t a stand alone as many of their songs are about weed, the act of getting high or acts associated with getting high, like the munchies. For example, “The Chips Fall Where They May” is a clever play on the titular, age old saying referring to a philosophy allowing events to happen naturally. But it is also quite literally about eating chips when you’re high. They also played their single “Hot Knives”, which is unsurprisingly about an affinity for marijuana and its by products.

Photo Credit: Chantel Ouellet
Photo Credit: Chantel Ouellet

While Partner may fit neatly in the psychedelic garage rock territory, lyrically they do not limit themselves with preconceived notions of what the genre should and should not be. A highlight of their performance was when they launched into a progressive porn anthem. They explained the song by saying, “if you want to send us a porn, this is the type of porn we’d want you to send to us.” They went on to sing about a desire to find more feminist-lesbian-amateur porn. Other topics of interest included a song about getting caught sleeping in your roommate’s bed. Caron explained that “it wasn’t even a sex thing” and that “that’s the real kicker.”

While many of their songs have an anecdotal nature, they played one self described serious song, “Creature In The Sun.” They explained that the inspiration behind the song was a dog lying in the sun. The dog seemed to be very relaxed. To quote Caron, “the dog wasn’t thinking about shitting, wasn’t thinking about pissing or eating.” This inspired Caron who thought that might be the ideal state. “Creature in The Sun” in turn uses its classic beach rock vibes to explore this concept and ideas about the afterlife.

The show proved that Partner has capabilities far beyond those portrayed in their hit “The ‘Ellen’ Page.” Their ability to create rich narratives from everyday experiences and layer them over perfectly constructed garage rock gives them a staying power. Their songs remain consistent in theme but their inspiration is wide and varying. Right now, they only have three songs on iTunes and a measly two on their Bandcamp. However, they are set to release a record on their new label, You’ve Changed Records, later this year. Their record is sure to be meticulously crafted, personable and lesbian af.

In their own words it should be “part musical act, part teenage diary and 100% queer.”

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