Last spring, an Instagram account called The Flyer Vault got Canadian music history buffs excited, documenting Toronto gig posters of all genres from the 1980s to the late 2000s.
Started by Daniel Tate, a 35-year-old IT project manager from Toronto, the collection includes flyers from 90s raves, rap concerts, and early shows by the likes of Daft Punk, Deadmau5, Frankie Knuckles, Kraftwerk, and more. Not only has it provided a nostalgia trip for artists (Armand Van Helden, Pete Rock, and Skratch Bastid have all commented on his posts), concertgoers, and designers alike, it also shows off the venues that have came and gone over the years.
With almost 1,000 posts and counting, we spoke to the man behind the account via email, and got him to share some of his favourite finds (see below).
THUMP: Tell us a little bit about how this collection began and where you find these flyers.
Daniel Tate: I've always been a huge music fan, especially hip-hop and dance music. I started collecting flyers when I attended my first rave at 15. At 18, I got a job as a promotions manager for a well-known (now defunct) concert company, REMG. I was managing a street team, plastering the city with flyers and posters for the various concerts that we were promoting at the time.
Being on the streets every weekend, before the ubiquity of the Internet, gave me a unique glimpse into the burgeoning music scene in Toronto. I was fascinated by the sheer quality and quantity of music events in the city, and the increasing sophistication of flyers. I decided to keep all the flyers I would find back then, dump them in a box without any idea why.
Then last year I was cleaning up my garage and discovered my old flyer box. I decided it would be more worthwhile to post them to the Internet, then have them gather dust in my garage.
Since the Instagram's gained popularity, do people ever send you flyers to post?
I would say about 70% of the flyers I post are from my collection, with the other 30% contributions from other people.
What's your favourite flyer that you've found since you started?
There's been many favorites, so it's tough to pinpoint one. One of the most interesting was the Syrous Freakin flyer from 1998. It was one of the biggest flyers I had ever seen, and the design was truly remarkable. It was also one of the first raves to mesh dance music with hip-hop—which foreshadowed the blurring of genres, and mainstream acceptance of hip-hop we see today.
Daft Punk's Canadian debut in 1997 was a very unique and rare flyer find. Here you have one of dance music's most legendary production teams starting out in the humble confines of Toronto's most legendary dance music venues, Industry Nightclub.
What have you learned about how Toronto's nightlife scene has changed over the years?
Going through this collection has really driven home the fact that Toronto is a world-class music city. None of it could have happened without ambition and risk-taking of the countless people who were involved in its past.
At least where hip-hop and dance music is concerned—from the 1990s on, you had a very healthy competition of promoters, which resulted in some incredible talent coming to the city each and every weekend. This forced local talent to really step up their game. And with that, you had secondary industries popping up to support it: the venues, the printing companies, the graphic designers, the sound techs, the artists themselves.
I also learned that for Toronto to remain a vibrant centre of live music, it is crucial that there are enough live music venues of varying sizes to support the scene.
The Notorious B.I.G., Jan. 31, 1995 - "First and only concert in Toronto, and the story of how Biggie's DJ got his turntables stolen."
Kraftwerk, July 24, 1981 - "Earliest electronic music concert that I was able to find circa 1981."
Daft Punk, Apr. 12, 1997 - "Daft Punk's first ever Toronto show at the legendary Industry."
Tiesto, Mar. 4, 2000 – "When before he DJ'ed at the Olympics, this was his debut in Toronto when trance was huge in this city."
Guvernment 5th Year Anniversary Party, Oct. 3-12, 2001 - "This flyer is important as it charts the rise and growing dominance of Guvernment (RIP) as the pre-eminent dance megaclub in Toronto."
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