A Backstreet Boys throwback, an all you can eat pizza fest and six other things to see, hear and do in Toronto this week
A boy band throwback
1The ’90s nostalgia craze has made plenty of room for comeback tours and, as promised, Backstreet’s back (without frosted tips this time). Fresh off a two-year Las Vegas residency, the “boys”—now middle-aged men—recently released their first chart-topping record in nearly two decades. Even in their 40s, they sprinkle their signature boyish charm into their high-octane ballads, and, more impressively, they can still nail the folding-chair dance number from their 1997 music video for “As Long As You Love Me.” Wednesday, July 17. $297–$1,250. Scotiabank Arena.
A speed dating experiment
2If your summer plans involve drowning your single sorrows in rosé while swiping through Tinder, you can ditch the app rendezvous in favour of some IRL matchmaking (with a twist). Mum’s the Word is hosting a blind dinner dating party with a few, um, highlights: attendees fill out a Google questionnaire before the event, show up and get matched with a suitor for a cannabis-infused meal prepared by guest chef Ganja Mama. If all goes well, you and your newfound stoner soulmate can give Netflix and chill a whole new meaning. Thursday, July 18. $30–$40. Mum’s the Word.
A steamy burlesque fest
3The origins of Burlesque date back to the Victorian era, when it was performed as a form of parody. The return of Toronto Burlesque Festival brings that history into the present, featuring a lineup of glittery performances that are both sexy and silly. Among the artists busting a few moves is sultry queen of burlesque (and festival organizer) Sauci Calla Horra, who has appeared in New York, Boston, Montreal and L.A. and is as much known for her classic routines as she is for her daring and wacky shows. Thursday, July 18 to Sunday, July 21. $30–$980. Mod Club and Revival Bar.
A night with the original indie darlings
4When Stuart Murdoch was 24, he sold his record collection to buy a plane ticket to San Francisco and a guitar he didn’t know how to play. Less than a year later, he was accepted into a program for unemployed musicians, where Belle and Sebastian was formed. Now a long way from struggling artists, the band has churned out 10 records over the past two decades. Their latest, How to Solve Our Human Problems, is a tasting menu of genres: bouncy synth-pop, Motown and folk, backed by an orchestra of cello, trumpet and xylophone. Seeing the Glasgow rockers live is the closest you can get to a night at the symphony without a baton-wielding conductor. Tuesday, July 16. $84.60. Danforth Music Hall.
A Fringe Festival sequel
5The festival came to a close this past weekend, but the top-rated performances from among the 150-plus offerings this year are getting an encore at the ninth annual Best of the Fringe. The theatrical buffet includes a one-man show from Degrassi: The Next Generation alum Jake Epstein and a sketch comedy about what happens when a small group of millennials (and their smartphones) are the only ones to survive an apocalypse. Wednesday, July 17 to Saturday, July 27. $20. Toronto Centre for the Arts.
An all you can eat pizza fest
6Toronto’s Pizza Festival was engineered for maximum gorging. The three-day carb load is an Italian food fair of pizzas, pastas, prosciutto, olives and don’t even get us started on the cheeses. Come with an appetite that would make your nonna proud and leave the salad grazing for next week. Friday, July 19 to Sunday, July 21. $7.95. Ontario Place.
A massive Zine fair at MOCA
7Stan Lee wannabes and illustration nerds unite at the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto’s Zine Dream 12. The massive art fair will have hundreds of one-of-a-kind zines (as the name suggests), self-published books, prints, music and cutesy crafts, and the whole thing kicks off with a launch party. Expect readings and performances by local artists like Amy Lam—co-author of Life of a Craphead—and pop band Quaker Parents. Friday, July 19 and Sunday, July 21. Free. Museum of Contemporary Art.
A Bloor Street celebration
8This Saturday, the BIG on Bloor Fest—an annual multicultural celebration to celebrate Bloordale’s long history—is turning the stretch between Dufferin and Lansdowne into a massive street party, with interactive art exhibits, artisan vendors, craft beer tasting, food and performances by local artists. Saturday, July 20. Free. Bloordale Village.