Gregory Alan Isakov and Haley Heynderickx Take the Danforth Music Hall


By: Mathuja Jeyakumar

Photo Credit: Lillyanne Szabo

Indie folk artists Gregory Alan Isakov and Haley Heynderickx came to Toronto from Chicago, as part of their tour for Isakov’s newest album, Evening Machines. The two singers, both worlds apart from each other – physically and lyrically, made for a refreshing concert. 

Looking around the Danforth Hall, the vibe was casual: a crowd of mid-twenty somethings with beers in hand. The show began with opener  Haley Heynderickx – who sat onstage with a guitar in hand – and sang her track “Don’t Take It Too Hard.” Her songs had relatable themes – roommates, tour-mate falling asleep on her leg, a song about monogamous relationships and the choice between having a child or a dog. With the last one especially she got a wave of laughs. During the chorus, she would cry out a little out of the blue, “Let’s buy a dog!” She then began to riff a repetitive tune on her guitar. “I played this riff every time my roommate walked into the room,” she said. “One day my roommate asked me, ‘Hey, what’s that tune you’re always playing?’ And I said – you!” Loud laughs burst out.


Haley’s voice was pleasant, and I found myself wanting to listen to her talk more, and when she began to sing, it was as if she was telling a story. She then sang my favourite –  “The Bug Collector” – from her album I Need To Start A Garden. Her music had a big personality to it, and at the same time was sweet in its simplicity. With her tranquil vibes and earnest songs about the trivial things in life, the crowd readily embraced her.

Following Haley, Gregory Alan Isakov took to the stage with a guitar himself, and a five-piece band consisting of drums, violin, cello, double bass, and guitar. The mood was comfortable, but loud with excited chatter. He started off with “She Always Takes It Black”, and “Black Cars.” Throughout his songs there were random whoops as the audience called out his name while sipping their beers. Towards the end however, the crowd became more silent as Gregory played his more powerful songs. I noticed one man who had come alone. He closed his eyes and nodded to the beat. 


Gregory’s voice was deep and strong in contrast to Haley’s more delicate and quiet voice. His music was also more emotional than Haley’s. His songs were about love and life and the instruments fed into this intense vibe as his songs would typically begin solo and gradually the deeper chords of the cello and double bass would join in.

The two artists reflected the two sides of indie folk – Haley’s laidback songs with Greg’s romantic songs. These contrasting voices made for a great concert, both with different styles of music. They both had unique, soothing voices – great for those moments where you just want to be alone in your thoughts.

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