Walking home one sunny afternoon, I heard my favourite singers voices radiating into Queen West’s back alleys and side streets. I ran towards the sound and found myself in a backyard full of people, with burgers grilling on the BBQ, and Julie Doiron performing from the stage directly in front of me. It was Tim McCready’s NXNE BBQ and even though I didn’t recognize a soul (aside from my favourite musician), it was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to.
Tim McCready started opening his doors to the public in 2005 and now throws two major events a year at his Manning pad: a New Year’s Eve bash and the aforementioned NXNE BBQ in June. And now, for the first time ever, Tim McCready is bringing his famous 159 Manning ragers to the Gladstone Hotel on Friday, April 8. With the help of 7 bands, 6 DJ’s and visual artists, every nook and cranny of the hotel will brim with house party buzz from the Melody Bar, to the Ballroom to the Second Floor Art Gallery space.
We sat down with Tim to find out how it all began, why he’s bringing it to the Gladstone for the first time ever and what makes these house parties so special.
Here’s Tim, the nicest guy ever, at his NXNE BBQ.
How did your place evolve into one of the city’s most exciting DIY venues?
It’s been a slow build over the 11+ years I’ve lived at 159 Manning. It’s the only place I’ve lived since moving to Toronto in January 2005. I spent most of 2004 sailing around the Caribbean (winter) and Alaska (summer) doing theatre production for Princess Cruises. I moved to Toronto to work for VICE Magazine, doing ad sales for the first 1.5 years, then as the production manager for the US and Canadian editions of the magazine the following 3 years. For the past 5 years I’ve been the in-house sound-tech at Parts & Labour and shoot video for Choir! Choir! Choir! every week since we first started, so I’ve got a background in making things happen in different mediums. For some, throwing a party is tied to a larger entity like promoting a record label, or a magazine, or a clothing line or whatever, which is great, but I’m not connected to any of those things. My events at 159 Manning on the specific days I throw them are the product. I genuinely want everyone who attends my parties to walk away from them having experienced something, and by the response I get, I’d say I’m pretty good at making that happen!!
Photo from BlogTO
Incredible bands play at your NXNE BBQ every June. What goes into picking and getting a great lineup to play?
One of the main things I’m looking for when I’m booking my summer BBQ is a balance of opposites. The early 90’s Lollapalooza lineups are a big influence on my aesthetic. They’d have a metal band, a rap group, at least one all-female rock act, an industrial/goth band like Front 242, NIN or Ministry, something weird like the Boredoms, some funk… bands that you wouldn’t normally see on a bill together. Ultimately I’m trying to curate that day so you can show up for the first act at noon, and stay till the last act ends at 11pm, and that the mood, tempo, and vibe evolves enough throughout the afternoon to keep everyone engaged and interested.
Clairmont the Second rapping a few years ago. Older and wider, this Toronto rapper is primed to be the next artist to make a name for the 6ix. Photo from BlogTO.
Who are you excited to have perform at the Gladstone?
Everyone! I’m excited for my band to kick off the night in the Melody Bar at 7pm since it’s such an iconic karaoke bar in Toronto. It’s a milestone for us that we’ve talked about since we started the band 2 years ago. I’m excited to see Mad Ones since they were supposed to play my NYE party this year but we were shut down by police before they could play. I’m looking forward to dancing to Harrison and Clairmont The Second’s sets because I think they’re creating some of the most exciting new music in Toronto right now.
While I stuck with my opposites theme, I’ve programmed the 2 live music rooms to be a bit more cohesive within themselves. The Ballroom programming leans towards an urban/hip-hop theme because that’s where Toronto is at right now. The Melody bar is all rock n roll with Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs taking the stage. Brendan Canning and TAIZA will be taking turns DJing upstairs, all vinyl, because Brendan, Tai, and Liza all have extensive record collections I wanted them to dig into. I’ve also got some surprises planned from Lana Gay and other friends of mine in the smaller rooms on the 2nd floor.
Photo from Mechanical Forest Sound.
With each party, you’re opening the doors of your home to the city of Toronto. What has been the best thing about sharing your space with the broader community?
I am continually shocked by how respectful people are of the house whenever I host events at 159 Manning. Because I take on so many rolls when I throw my bigger parties, I often get very stressed out in the week leading up to the event. I ask myself, “Why am I doing this??! What if nobody comes??!! I’m never doing this again!!” The response I get from both the people who attend and who perform is always so overwhelmingly positive at the parties themselves, it always reminds me why I do it. It’s the abstract concepts of aesthetics and community that are important to me. I bring up the idea of ‘community in an abstract sense’, because I don’t think my parties attract or represent a specific scene anymore. Up until NYE 2011, I recognized most of the faces that would come to my parties. Since then I don’t recognize 90% of the people who come and I think that’s great!
Photo from VICE.
Why did you choose the Gladstone Hotel as the first venue to bring your iconic party series to?
The Gladstone Hotel is such a beautiful building inside and out, has such a rich history of throwing stellar events and supporting the arts in Toronto. Having access to their resources, and working with their team has been both exciting and refreshing, and the building is much better equipped to handle the masses than my house is. It’s one thing to have 200 to 300 people show up at my house for NYE, that’s a crazy night…but 1000 people showed up this past NYE after Global News did a segment about me. CBC News did a segment about the party the year before. That was fun to watch unfold in some ways, but there was no room to move around during the party. It sort of negates all the work and care that goes into the programming and decorating when there’s too many people to move anywhere. My NYE party and NXNE BBQ literally can’t get any bigger or attract more people because I’m turning people away as it is. I’m maxed out, so moving to a larger venue is just the next logical step, and the Gladstone is well-suited to handle that challenge. Using the Ballroom, Melody Bar, and 2nd floor allows me to maintain that 3-ring circus vibe of having multiple contrasting things happening at once, and takes a certain amount of responsibility and risk off my shoulders so I can focus on curating and organizing the talent.
What do you think your house party vibe will bring to us and vice versa?
Hopefully we can bring people into the Gladstone to experience the space in a new way, expose everyone to some new music, and make some new friends.
What makes a great party?
Diversity! At its most basic division, you need to have a good mix of males and females. A mix of old friends and strangers. Cheap drinks! Food! Loud bands in one room, and another room with couches to just chill out in. I’m really into the concept of the yin-yang.