From The Mod Club To TURF : The Rise Of James Bay In Less Than 2 Years Is Insane

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Way back in December of 2014, I made a piece called, “5 Artists To Check Out : UK Edition.”  One of those artists that I named was James Bay. At this point in time, Bay had been nominated for the British Sound Of 2015 poll. This nomination is for artists who are about to break out and for Bay, his break out year was 2015.

He released his debut album, “Chaos And The Calm” and it got nominated for the Best Rock Album Grammy and his lead single from his album “Hold Back The River” was nominated for Best Rock Song Grammy. Additionally, Bay was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy.

In April of 2015, I had the pleasure of getting a ticket to his first Toronto show at the Mod Club for his North American Leg for his tour in support of his album. For those who are unaware, The Mod Club is a concert venue in Toronto and the capacity is 622. Bay sold out the venue and seeing him live was incredible. I went from blogging about him to actually seeing him. It was a surreal feeling.



The best thing about The Mod Club is how small the venue is. I was right in front of Bay while he was performing his debut album. In this moment, filming him performing “Hold Back The River” I knew he was destined to be great. I knew he was going to blow up as an artist, and that 2015 was going to be a special year for him, but I never imagined how quickly It was going to happen. How quickly he was going to blow up.

Fast forward 17 months later, I received Media Accreditation to cover the Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) and low and behold, Bay was to be a headliner. Not even two years later and Bay was going from performing in front of a crowd of 622 at the Mod Club to performing in front of thousands upon thousands of people at TURF. And I was going to witness it.

There’s honestly this special moment every fan goes through. The moment where you find an artist before he or she goes big and then, it happens so quickly. You’re not the only person listening anymore, the whole world is. You don’t need to convince anybody to listen to them anymore because everyone already is. It’s a bitter-sweet moment at first, because you loved being the only person who knew about the artist, but it’s amazing seeing the artists grow.

Including myself and the other 621 people at The Mod Club, we were the fans before Bay was going to go big. We were the ones who knew about him before everyone else knew about him. We got to see him in a small venue and to be so close. My filming of “Hold Back The River” was front row at the concert. Fast forward 17 months later, it’s all different now.

On Friday, September 16th, 2016, I watched Bay perform his debut album again. I watched him perform, “Chaos And The Calm.” And this time was different. I wasn’t a blogger who went from writing about Bay to seeing him live, I was a day one fan watching an artist become a superstar. Seeing him perform “Hold Back The River” again was magical.


It was magical because it wasn’t 621 people watching him perform. It wasn’t some small venue he was performing at. This was a festival stage. This was in front of thousands of people. When you’re a day one fan of an artist, you always want an artist’s fan base to grow bigger and bigger because you want the artist to succeed. My filming of him at TURF really showcased that. I wasn’t up close anymore, his stage was incredibly bigger, really encompassing how much he’s grown.

Even though The Mod Club was packed with day one fans, like myself and it was intimate and close, Bay is destined for more than that. Like I said about that special moment every fan goes through, seeing him go from the Mod Club to TURF is bitter-sweet, but it’s magical.

Also, It is true that in-between these two shows, Bay performed at the Molson Amphitheatre, but he didn’t do that alone and yes, he did perform at the Sound Academy, but going from Mod Club to a festival stage is the significance here in the almost two years. Headlining a festival is superstar status, those two other shows show growth, but not this type of growth and It’s insane.

It’s insane because when I first blogged about him in December of 2014, Bay was relatively unknown. There was incredible buzz about him, he was nominated for the British Sound Of 2015 poll, but he still needed to break out as an artist. In 2015, he laid down the ground work to break out. He released an incredibly successful debut album, he went on a successful tour and In 2016, he was nominated for three Grammys.

All of these achievements that Bay received have all been in less than two years, but for Bay, he wouldn’t consider his success an overnight one, because behind the scenes, he’s definitely been working hard everyday to get to the point he’s currently at.

But as a fan, for me, it’s insane that I went from seeing him at The Mod Club to a festival stage, but I’m happy that for all the chaos that it took to get him to this point as an artist, he’s finally calm and performing at stages he’s meant to be. As fans, we have to accept an artists growth. Even if we like it or not.


From The 6ix,With Love

Thank You For Reading

Sincerely, Kid From The 6ix

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