“Shows are a really big deal for teenagers”

The Toronto teen duo Moscow Apartment knows exactly how important all-ages gigs are.

Moscow Apartment at the House of Strombo in 2019. LINDSAY DUNCAN

Moscow Apartment at the House of Strombo in 2019. LINDSAY DUNCAN

The two teenagers who comprise the indie-folk outfit Moscow Apartment have as much touring experience as some bands double their ages. In Canada’s musical landscape, that includes outdoor festivals, soft-seat theatres, and occasionally bars.

The distaste for the latter is evident in Brighid Fry’s voice down the line from Toronto. “It depends on the province, but mostly all bars have very strict rules for letting underage people in,” says Fry, who forms the duo with Pascale Padilla. “Usually we have to stay in one area under strict supervision, or we’re not allowed in until right before we play. It always feels rushed and hectic.”

All-ages shows, then, are a welcome relief not just for the atmosphere, but for the activity itself. “I like knowing when we get to play all-ages shows that it’s something people can do,” says Fry. “Me and my bandmate, we are always so excited when a show is all-ages and we can actually go to it. It’s something people our age can do.”

The duo, which has travelled the country on its own and in support of the likes of The Good Lovelies, has done so on the strength of its thoughtful, hooky self-titled EP (a new one is due this spring). Playing for people their own age, who relate directly to the songs, is a necessity—even if it’s often challenging to pull off.

“First of all, I think young people and music is more important and more intense part of life—music is such a large part of defining your identity,” says Fry. “Shows are a really big deal for teenagers. [All ages venues are] really lacking and I’m glad Side Door can be this thing that can bring that more to the foreground. It’s really hard—I can think of maybe three places in Toronto off the top of my head that will do all-ages shows that aren’t stadiums.”

Connecting with fans is a big part of the appeal, although “both me and Pascale are awkward. Sometimes I feel bad for people because they expect us to be very confident,” says Fry. But it’s a way to see exactly how the work they do is impacting the people who listen to it.

“It’s very cool that we’re inspiring a lot of young girls to do music. When I was eight or nine years old, seeing teenage girls in bands was inspiring,” she says. “I’m glad we can be those people now.”

Fry’s tour tips do not include good sleep or nutrition—“we can figure that out when we’re adults”—but she does offer this: “It’s definitely OK to take space from your bandmates,” she says. “If you’re going on tour for the first time, it’s hard to spend that much time in one stretch with only a couple other people. Try to find time for your own personal whatever: a podcast with headphones, a long walk.”

Written by Tara Thorne

Tara Thorne is a writer, editor, and pop culture critic in Halifax.