Rock out with Metz, lose yourself in the Contact Photography Festival and eight other things to do this week
Gorge on a smorgasbord of photographic eye candy
Pretty much every gallery in Toronto is surrendering to the swell of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, a month-long snapshot spectacular that features work from more than 1,500 artists. Check out the festival’s dazzling public installations: Jihyun Hong’s glowing rendition of a Chinese demolition site in the MOCCA courtyard, romantic colour-stained landscapes by Sarah Anne Johnson at the Westin Harbour Castle and, at Art Metropole, archival Polaroids of 1970s Toronto by Edouard LeBouthillier, which were discovered a decade ago, discarded on a curb. May 1 to 31. Free. Various locations, scotiabankcontactphoto.com.
Explore the city’s hidden crannies, Jane Jacobs style
The utopian urbanist Jane Jacobs has inspired a worldwide movement: Jane’s Walk, the annual Jacobs-inspired citizen-led lark, now includes offshoots across North America, as well as far-flung regions like Spain, Kenya, the Philippines, Russia and even the online Second Life universe. Our picks for this weekend’s Toronto edition include a look at green initiatives in Rexdale, a geocaching tour of the east end, a dog walk through hidden art at the Ex, and nighttime sneaks through secret staircases in Swansea and Baby Point. May 1 to 3. Free. Various locations, janeswalk.org.
Blow out your eardrums with Metz
The ’90s punk revivalists Metz play ear-throttling, anxious hardcore rock—the kind of noise we haven’t heard in Toronto since the early days of Fucked Up. They recorded their new album, II, in a rural Ontario barn owned by Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh. The new tracks are crushing and complex, oscillating between Seattle grunge shrieking, Sex Pistols snarling and, hidden behind it all, some surprisingly anthemic hooks. The band blows the walls off Lee’s Palace as part of Canadian Music Week, joined by Detroit post-punkers Protomartyr. Bring earplugs. May 1. $16. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., leespalace.com.
See a surreal stage show from Robert LePage
It’s the season of Robert LePage in Toronto: the relentless avant-gardist directs a spooky double-bill of Bartók’s Bluebeard and Schoenberg’s Erwartung at the COC in May; a new production called 887 for the Pan Am Games in July; and, this week, a remount of his 1989 breakout hit, Needles and Opium, at Canadian Stage. It’s a fantastical dreamscape that circles around three characters—Miles Davis, Jean Cocteau and a proxy for LePage himself—as they cope with depression and addiction while swirling, suspended from wires, in a rotating cube onstage. May 1 to 10. $30–$99. Bluma Appel Theatre, 27 Front St. E., 416-368-3110, canadianstage.com.
Spend the weekend with the city’s funniest ladies
Comedy, long an exclusive boys’ club, is finally admitting women into its ranks. The SheDot Festival offers a platform for dozens of female comics from Toronto and beyond, with workshops on storytelling, comedy craft and auditioning; panel discussions from women who’ve made it in the industry; and performances from some of the city’s pre-eminent female gutbusters, including improv maven Naomi Snieckus, stand-up comic Rebecca Kohler, and the daffy sketch duo Templeton Philharmonic. April 30 to May 3. Individual tickets $12, festival pass $35. Various venues, shedotfestival.com.
See Scott Conarroe’s stark, stunning seascapes
Between 2005 and 2011, the Vancouver-based photographer Scott Conarroe travelled the country documenting the scenery along North America’s railroads and coastlines, where his subjects included trackside houses in Nova Scotia, marinas in British Columbia and rustic seaports in Newfoundland. The resulting landscapes, on display this week at the Ryerson Image Centre, are as journalistic as they are romantic, cataloguing the intersection of nature and infrastructure. April 29 to June 28. Free. Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St., 416-979-5164, ryerson.ca.
Hear Sufjan Stevens make his stripped-down comeback
Over the past decade, Sufjan Stevens has cemented a carnivalesque sonic trademark of epic orchestrations and high-concept shenanigans (he once planned to release an album inspired by every American state, and used to strap on angel wings at his concerts). He brings his new album, Carrie and Lowell, to Massey Hall this week. It’s a dazzling departure, all whispery vocals, gentle folk strumming and wrenchingly personal tracks: he devotes a good chunk of the record to coming to terms with the death of his alcoholic, schizophrenic mother, who abandoned him as a kid. April 29. $45.50. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, roythomson.com.
Check out sweatshirts designed by Pablo Picasso
In the 1960s, Picasso teamed up with the clothing company White Stag to create a collection of ski-wear anoraks, ponchos and sweatshirts printed with black-and-white Guernica figures and Blue Period abstracts. He wasn’t the only artist to make textiles for the mainstream: Salvador Dali designed silk-screened scarves and ties, Marc Chagall devised upholstery fabric and Joan Míro patterned cotton dresses. A new exhibit at the Textile Museum of Canada brings together hundreds of designs from the 20th century’s visionary artists, each of them fascinating fusions of art, function and commerce. May 2 to Oct. 4. $15. Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Ave., 416-599-5321, textilemuseum.ca.
Listen to Passion Pit’s shimmering synth-pop symphonies
Michael Angelakos, the vocalist and braintrust behind the band Passion Pit, is an electro Willy Wonka, conjuring glittering fantasies of falsetto, synth and pure sonic sugar. On his latest album, Kindred, he adds new depth to that shimmery sound—every melody is a crashing crescendo, every arrangement an overstuffed symphony. Check out his soaring melodrama at the Danforth Music Hall this week. April 29. $35.75–$51.25. Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., 416-778-8163, thedanforth.com.
Take a surprisingly entertaining lesson in Canada’s history
The best way to generate interest in Canadian history? Transform it into a musical farce. In VideoCabaret’s version at Soulpepper, Pierre and René are clownish adversaries, sputtering and preening their way through the formation of the Parti Quebecois, the 1980 Quebec Referendum and Margaret Trudeau’s night out with the Rolling Stones. To June 13. $36–$56. Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 50 Tank House Lane, 416-866-8666, soulpepper.ca.