A Majid Jordan show, a debate with Salman Rushdie and five other things to see, do, hear and read this week
The future kings of Toronto R&B
1Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman cut their teeth in a U of T dorm room, toying with synths and drum machines through the night. The first song they wrote together as Majid Jordan somehow reached the ears of Drake, who turned it into the platinum single “Hold On, We’re Going Home.” The duo has made good on Drizzy’s seal of approval with two albums, including The Space Between, an atmospheric blend of Ullman’s pulsating, ’80s-inspired production and Al Maskati’s hypnotic voice. This month, they wrap up a whirlwind world tour with two euphoric nights at Rebel. Wednesday, April 4 and Thursday, April 5. $35. Rebel.
A lofty debate on art and truth
2Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie, performance artist Andrea Fraser, filmmaker Charles Officer and Indigenous electro musician Iskwé take the Massey Hall stage this week for the latest edition of AGO’s Creative Mind series. CBC’s Anna Maria Tremonti will moderate a debate about what role art can play in defining morality and discerning the truth in an era of political polarization and fake news. Wednesday, April 4. $19.50–$79.50. Massey Hall.
A powerful teen play from the U.K.
3Simon Stephens’ Punk Rock zeroes in on a group of angsty private school students prepping for finals. A volatile mix of anger, insecurity and out-of-control hormones leads to an explosive, violent climax. First produced in Britain in 2009 with a young Tom Sturridge, this acclaimed show gets its local premiere from award-winning indie troupe the Howland Company. To Saturday, April 14. $15–$35. Streetcar Crowsnest.
The definitive Tragically Hip bible
4The outpouring of love for Gord Downie in his final days made one thing clear: for millions, the Tragically Hip was more than just a band—it was an idea of Canada. In the Hip’s first print biography, The Never-Ending Present, journalist and CanRock aficionado Michael Barclay traces the band’s journey from Kingston beginnings and early Horseshoe gigs to national fame and the 2016 farewell concert watched by more than a third of the country. Barclay weaves together reportage and interviews with the band, and their family members, friends and contemporaries to demystify the Hip’s transcendent reputation as the sound of a nation. Tuesday, April 3. ECW Press.
A breakout singer’s back-to-back gigs
5Charlotte Day Wilson has charmed Toronto by a thousand cuts. Though the buzzy soul singer has yet to drop a full-length album, she earned a rabid following through a trickle of small projects: her moody debut EP, CDW; collaborations with local ascendants like Daniel Caesar and BadBadNotGood; and one-off singles like “Doubt,” a seductively dreamy slow jam. It’s one of six minimalistic trackson Stone Woman, the stellar sophomore EP that will have to tide Wilson fans over for the time being. Friday, April 6 and Saturday, April 7. $25. Danforth Music Hall.
A globe-trotting, time-travelling story collection
6Johanna Skibsrud won the 2010 Giller Prize for The Sentimentalists, her touching debut about a Vietnam vet and his daughter. In Tiger, Tiger, her new collection of short stories, she once again tells the story of a soldier and his child—this time accompanied by a dizzying variety of other characters and tales. The 14 vignettes take readers into WWI battlefields, modern nursing homes and the reaches of outer space to tell the stories of a scientist who discovers the nature of love, a taxidermist who loses his fiancée under mysterious circumstances, and an isolated teenager who can unfathomably recall 200,000 years of the earth’s history. Tuesday, April 3. Hamish Hamilton.
Bach brought back to life
7Bach completed his massive B-Minor Mass—considered one of the supreme achievements of Western classical music— in 1749, the year before he died. It’s a de facto textbook of baroque choral composition, testing the prowess and passion of any ensemble willing to risk it. Ivars Taurins bravely leads the Tafelmusik orchestra and chamber choir and a quartet of soloists in a magisterial reading of the complex, moving work, a spiritual journey from supplication to celebration that ends with a prayer for peace. Thursday, April 5 to Tuesday, April 10. $38–$81. Trinity–St. Paul’s Centre and Toronto Centre for the Arts.