Soybomb HQ knows how to throw a house party
Clambering up the rickety Queen street level entry of Soybomb HQ just above the Cyclemotive store has you wondering what exactly you are getting into. In fact, founder Jason Wydra, wasn't too sure either when he started hosting his seasonal house party shows, using his bunkeresque abode as a DIY arts space.
"It all started around 2003 with my skateboard company, Soybomb," Jason explained during our chat between bands from their rooftop greenspace.
"My friend Nate, my brother and myself were looking for a place to build a half pipe. We were all carpenter/skateboarders and we didn't care where the kitchen and living room were, as long as there was a half pipe and a place to sleep. That's all that mattered."
A few years later, with the half-pipe and the rest of the interior built, (the home was pretty much "a construction site") Into his mid-thirties at the time, Jason's enthusiasm for Toronto's skateboard community was waning and he eventually moved on from SoyBomb. "When I started skating, it was the punk rock athletic activity of choice, but by 2003 it became a jock, or popular, thing to do. My headspace didn't mesh with the kids hanging out at skate parks at all," lamented Jason.
On Halloween 2008, the home was pretty much ready for a house warming concert/party which had more success than anyone ever expected, prompting Jason to hold seasonal shows on a regular basis.
Soybomb HQ is very much a home, loaded with the kind sassy and abrasive instructional signs you might expect at a post-hardcore house party. Classics in block letters like " You aren't allowed past here, idiot!" or "No girl time in the washroom. Get in, get out!"
The main area of the space is taken up by the half-pipe that doubles as a stage space. It's not elevated but the ramps make for a crammed sitting ledge for fans who want to get super close to their favourite bands. The ceiling is grimy and unfinished with exposed flooring beams from the floor above, decorated with multi-seasonal Christmas lights. It definitely feels like a house party.
The night I showed up was local band's Connoisseurs Of Porn record release party with a 20-30something arts and post-hardcore crowd straining their necks, and eardrums, to get a glimpse of shouty and reverb-heavy bands like Hellaluya, Das Rad, Fucket, and John Milner YR So Boss. The event also hilariously commemorated 'the 50 year anniversary of the death of Lee Harvey Oswald, history's most handsome assassin!' according to its Facebook page.
"We're not a bar or a venue, we're a home that has a space for this," Jason clarified. "We don't book things to make money, we book bands we are excited about. The DIY post hardcore movement is the most exciting creative open space I've found in the last ten years in terms of writing music. It's happening in interesting ways in Toronto which i've never seen in this city."
Their balmy Queen and Bathurst rooftop hangout space is complete with herb and veggie garden and is a great place to cool off between sets. Key concerts take place on New Years, Halloween, with others spaced out around the year.