On June 11th, 2022, Radio FWD hosted their first in-person concert at UTSC since the start of the pandemic. Spearheaded by Radio FWD’s Music Associate Zachary Osborn, this intimate concert set inside Highland Hall featured three musical acts: SAM, Christopher Ma, and Sunset Arcade. All of the acts are UTSC alumni or current students. Highlighting local musicians has always been an important part of Radio FWD’s mission at UTSC, and community support was overwhelming as attendance exceeded 100 entrants with nearly $1600 raised in donation sales to the artists.
(Photo Credit: John Delante, Zachary Osborn, Daniel Fiala)
SAM (Photo: John Delante)
Moody lighting set the stage perfectly for the first act, SAM. SAM is a local Scarborough singer-songwriter who specializes in slow-dances and poetry. SAM’s set includes original songs and covers interspersed throughout her spot. SAM controlled the mood of the crowd expertly, and had everyone’s eyes fixed on the stage. SAM’s personable songwriting had an empathetic side that created an introspective atmosphere, and she overcame the challenge of being a solo artist tasked with filling an entire venue with music. SAM’s music can be found on her SoundCloud, and she also runs a YouTube channel which can be found here Christopher Ma (Photo: John Delante)
Next up was Christopher Ma, a multi-instrumentalist who writes, produces, and records all of his own music. Backed by a full band (Members of Sunset Arcade: Ethan Whittier on bass, Rowan Naidoo on drums, and Robbie Macatangay playing lead guitar and saxophone), Christopher Ma exploded onto the stage with an original track titled Breathing. Oozing with high energy and stage presence, the crowd was thrust into an ingenious foray of Indie Rock reminiscent of contemporaries like Wavves and The Strokes with Christopher’s baritone voice especially calling upon the likes of Julian Casablancas. The timing for their third track on the setlist, “Rafflesia”, couldn’t have been better as it dropped the audience right at the turn of summer as Christopher sang, “The warmth is all around us, Chorus whirls, Venus pearling, Slow unfurl”. Christopher’s enormous discography can be found at his Bandcamp and all major streaming platforms. Zachary Osborn also wrote an artist spotlight about Christopher Ma, which can be found on Radio FWD’s website here Sunset Arcade (Photo: John Delante)
Sunset Arcade closed the concert, but not before getting the entire venue on their feet and dancing for the duration of their setlist. Sunset Arcade is comprised of Ethan Whittier on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Robbie Macatangay on lead guitar and backing vocals, Rowan Naidoo on drums, and his brother Ravell Naidoo on bass. Robbie’s energy was electric, ranging from dancing on stage to running into the crowd with his guitar. Rowan managed to keep his energy going after playing a full set with Christopher Ma. Ravell gave a stellar performance on bass, with the support of Radio FWD’s sound team, allowing the bass to reverberate throughout the audience. A particular specialty of Sunset Arcade is their dynamic tempo changes throughout a single song. All of the members perfectly timed transitions from exhilarating rock riffs to moody, slow-paced breakdowns. The band particularly impressed the crowd with their own rendition of Passionfruit by Drake, which injected their own unique indie twist on a tropical dancehall classic.
Finally, Ethan’s vocals, which elicited shades of Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy and Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday, perfectly encapsulated the “work is play” attitude the members described in their interview with The Varsity Sunset Arcade’s music can be found on their SoundCloud and all other major streaming platforms.