Hamilton is edging deeper into winter as we head into February. However, there are a host of exciting performing arts events across the city to keep you up and moving to help the month pass a little faster. Here are our top picks for this month.

Girlfriend Material and PONY

In 2017, Tokyo Police Club keyboardist Graham Wright decided to compose music for his film project about a killer Roomba. This led to a new collaboration with bandmate Josh Hook, Hollerado’s Jake Boyd and bassist Joseph Garand. Girlfriend Material carries over the catchy hooks that their predecessors were known for and their songs are pop-rock gems that are fun and breezy, while still having an indie-rock flavor for adults.

PONY consists of frontwoman Sam Bielanski, bassist Eva Link, guitarist Stephen Giroux and drummer Matt Sandrin. Their garage-style of power-pop is exactly what you would expect to hear at a beach party (or in February if you’re looking to feel ready for some sun). The 19+ double-header is being presented by Mills Hardware on February 6 at 8pm, with doors at 7pm.

Owen Pallett

Whether you know him through his work as Polaris Prize winner Final Fantasy, as a Grammy Award winner (for his work on Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs), or as an indemand soloist and artist, you have probably praised Owen Pallett’s work at some point. Pallett is being presented via Hamilton Winterfest, highlighting the festival alongside Hamilton’s Glass Eyelashes and DJ Smooth Transitions on February 8 starting at 8pm.

In addition to the music, ticketholders will also experience Cape Dorset, a large-scale outdoor video projection animated by Hamilton artist Lee Skinner. The imagery featured will be from the Dorset Fine Arts 2019 print collection in honour of their 60th anniversary of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative. The evening will also include screenings of the National Film Board’s “Winter Shorts,” and a complimentary poutine bar by Salt Lick Smokehouse.

This is Here

The Hamilton Aerial Group takes incredible care with every element of their performance, ensuring that each presentation is a unique experience before returning to their home of the Cotton Factory to build a new work. As a result, this ensemble of dedicated artists and stilt-walkers only present a few public performances each year, which are all highly anticipated. Their February offering, This is Here, draws inspiration from Hamilton-based poet John Terpstra’s book, Falling Into Place and will be presented for four nights only, from February 12-15 at 7pm each evening. The annual fundraising event is a ticketed event as part of Hamilton Winterfest, and is based at the Hamilton Waterfront Trust. Given the small number of performances the group presents each year, expect these tickets to go quickly.

Rachel Beck

Mills Hardware managed to snag the award-winning singer-songwriter for a Hamilton stop on February 23 at 7pm as part of the artist’s cross-country tour. Rachel Beck will be performing in Hamilton just days after an appearance at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre, and on her way to Toronto’s Dakota Tavern. The tour is in promotion of her sophomore album, Stronger Than You Know, which is due for release later this year. The performer’s self-titled debut quickly won over audiences and her single, Reckless Heart reached number one on CBC’s Top 20 chart. Expect the concert to be full of Beck’s signature soulful-pop sound combining emotive vocals, distinctive piano melodies and raw confessional lyrics. With her sophomore album being set up for success, this is the opportunity to see Beck before she hits the festival circuit and becomes a major cultural export.

Five at the First

The 2019-2020 season marks the tenth anniversary of Michele Corbeil and Rachel Mercer’s collaborative efforts to bring classical music in an intimate and family-friendly setting to Hamilton through their Five at the First series. Under Mercer’s artistic direction, the series has brought a number of talented players to the city to perform at the First Unitarian Church (170 Dundurn Street South). Their February 29th concert is notable for exactly this reason. Featured alongside Mercer, and frequent collaborators Angela Park (piano) and Yehonatan Berick (violin) is double bassist Joel Quarrington and violinist Mayumi Seiler. In addition to being Mercer’s colleague at the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Quarrington is a renowned bassist in classical music circles who has achieved a somewhat legendary status. Seiler has been called the “embodiment of international chic” by the Globe and Mail. In addition to the artists, the program itself promises lighthearted fare, including Schubert’s popular Quintet, “The Trout.”

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