Barenaked Ladies are making a racket at Toronto’s newest music venue

Fresh off the release of a new album and celebrating 35 years in music, the Barenaked Ladies are opening the new music venue The Bowl at Sobeys Stadium June 27 for a show dubbed the Big Racquet (the stadium is home to the city’s largest professional tennis tournament). Streets of Toronto caught up with band member Tyler Stewart to get the inside scoop.

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Tell us about christening this new music venue with this big show.

Well, The Bowl at Sobeys Stadium, formerly known as a great tennis venue, is enjoying a reinvention as a rock ’n’ roll venue. We’re pretty excited to be able to be the first band to play there in a long time. And we are looking forward to it. We got a chance to go and see the venue last week. And it’s cool, you know, very intimate, and you’re surrounded by seats on all sides. If it’s a beautiful summer night, it’s going to be a fabulous place to see a show.

And you’re bringing  along some special guests?

We have our friends Sam Roberts Band coming to join us, which is great. And also a good friend of ours from Scotland, KT Tunstall is opening the show too. And I don’t know if people have seen her before, but she is an amazing live performer, very dynamic.  

The band celebrated 35 years recently. What’s your secret?

What I’d love to say is that it has something to do with a supplement like grapefruit seed oil. But I don’t know. I think it comes down to mutual respect and striving to always communicate with each other. Make sure that we understand each other and also continue to inspire each other. 

What are some fond memories?

Well, this past fall, we celebrated our 35th anniversary with a show at the El Mocambo, which we recorded live for Sirius XM. And we played songs from the entire span of our 35-year career. That was a really special night because all our friends and family were there. And also I would say that playing Royal Albert Hall in London in 2022 was amazing. 

Where is your favourite place to catch a show in Toronto now?

Nowadays? Well, it depends if you’re talking about a club show — then I really love the Dakota. It’s small. It’s intimate. It’s cool. They make a nice Margarita. I love that place. 

Thirty-five years ago, when you crammed into Speakers Corner to play, did you think it would come to this?

I think that was the dream. I have always wanted to do this. I’ve always wanted to be in a band or be on stage performing. I met the right guys, you know. I met these incredibly talented dudes in Ed Robertson and Jim Creegan, Kevin Hearn and Steve Page. I mean, these guys changed my life.

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