Review: The Barberettes in Toronto (2016)

The Barberettes in Toronto 2016
The Barberettes in Toronto 2016

As you might have heard, The Barberettes were recently back to Toronto. And of course, we were there to catch the action. There was no way I was going to miss it after catching them five times last year and enjoying each and every performance. Although, I think my favourite of the five shows last year was the low-key, acoustic open mic set they did at a Starbucks in Toronto. That was such a cool experience. But it’s 2016 and you want to hear about their recent show.

First though, a little bit about The Barberettes…

The Barberettes in Toronto 2016
The Barberettes in Toronto 2016

The Barberettes

The Barberettes, the fun trio of ladies with beautiful voices and outfits (I love their outfits!), had a North American tour before heading to the UK to perform at The Great Escape festival. And as a part of that tour, they did two shows in Toronto. They play du-wop inspired music and have a fabulous retro vibe (to both their music and clothes). Making up the trio is Shinae An Wheeler (안신애), Sunnie Lee (이경선) and So Hee Park (박소희).

Here’s a little sample of their music if you haven’t already heard them.

Review of The Barberettes show

I was pretty stoked that they came back to Toronto to play two shows, even if I was only able to catch one of them this time. My review is of their Friday show but I know from friends who attended the Saturday one, that it was just as good. I was first introduced to them last year when it was announced that they were coming to South by Southwest. Not long afterwards they announced that they were coming to Toronto beforehand which was cool. Last year they did three shows here – well, two shows plus an open mic performance that was super fun to see – and each was different. In fact, their open mic set was one of my favourite shows of 2015. And having seen them five times in under two weeks (first in Toronto and then at SXSW), I can comfortably tell you that they are a group that’s always fun to see and a show that you’ll enjoy, regardless of your age. Their appeal is just so wide-reaching.

But enough of my reminiscing (I just can’t seem to help it), let’s talk about their recent show in Toronto.

Rookie opening for The Barberettes in Toronto 2016
Rookie opening for The Barberettes in Toronto 2016

Just like last year, a local band Rookie, opened up for The Barberettes, getting the crowd in the mood for some retro tunes. They did a bunch of covers of old tunes that I’m sure were known by most (if not all) in the audience and their energy set the tone of the show.

Both shows this year were at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts, one of last year’s venues. It’s a nice, intimate venue that suits their style of music, even if it makes it a little difficult to dance along with them. You see, it’s a seated venue (and it’s hard to dance sitting down ^^). While not completely sold out, both nights had a good-sized crowd and it was fun to see everyone get into the music.

The Barberettes in Toronto 2016
The Barberettes in Toronto 2016

While I enjoyed their shows last year, I was impressed at how much more confident they seemed this year. Their lovely voices still harmonized and brought out the best in each other but their on-stage performance just seemed to be better. With lots of interaction with the audience in between songs – in both English and Korean – the almost two and a half hour performance was one that seemed to go by in a blink. Among the many songs they played was Lee Hi’s latest single, “Hold My Hand” which was written by The Barberettes.

In addition to their music, I love seeing their costumes and hairstyles as they never seem to so the same thing twice. So of course, their show wasn’t complete without a costume change halfway through the show. Fun fact – the second outfit they wore was a modification of floor length dresses they wore last year. Always so lovely!

The Barberettes in Toronto 2016
The Barberettes in Toronto 2016

Final Thoughts

A fabulous night of music, The Barberettes put on a great show and left the audience with a smile on their faces. It was great to see how their stage presence has improved over the past year, hear a few of their new songs and just share in their joy in performing. If you ever get the chance, go see The Barberettes. And if you haven’t yet, check them out… we left you some handy links below. ^^

Huge thanks to HYPR Creative Inc. for the media pass to the show. I love that they are bringing great Korean indie musicians to Toronto and can’t wait to see who’s next!

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Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday – this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it’s taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I’m the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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