Valley debut at The Troubadour to the choir of their dreams

VALLEY Troubadour 2022 mainbar

Canadian pop/rock band valley stormed The Troubadour on Thursday for their debut at the iconic Los Angeles venue. It was one of those nights that will never be repeated, with swaths of luminous color drenching the band and stage during an 80-minute set that included their first-ever hit “Swim” as well as songs from each of their releases, not to mention their most recent The Afterparty EP. The fans created an uproar at the sold-out show, singing along to nearly every word on some songs, dancing and feeling the impact of our northern friends’ delightful songs.

Indie-pop singer Catie Turner opened the night in her quirky style, with pigtails, a sweater with a koala wearing a tie and a backdrop of a teenager’s room. She mentioned her imposter syndrome, probably because even though she’s signed to a major label and was a fan favorite on American Idol, it’s still a pinch-me moment to debut at The Troubadour. She showcased her jazzy tone launching into the groovy mid-tempo “Therapy”, among other off 2021 EP Heartbroken and Milking It. Though her voice was a little hoarse (probably from recent shows), she worked through it on the danceable pop song “Push You Away”. A cardboard cutout of her longtime obsession Harry Styles was brought out to stand behind Turner as she continued her set, which appropriately included a cover of Styles’ hit “Adore You”, with the entire room singing along. Catie grabbed the guitar for the second half and pointed out her “really dramatic ending” at the end, which was really just a fitting riff to close it out. 

Toronto’s valley had “Stacey’s Mom” pumping on the speakers before walking out for their set. They walked down the stairs to the stage with vocalist Rob Laska already singing the “Last Birthday” opening verse in tinted sunglasses while the whole place joined in. 


The black and white backdrop with block lettering had a fishbowl/globe shape that looked 3D from every direction of the show, as the lights glowed and flashed throughout the night. Without taking a breath, the pulsating “nevermind” was next with purple and pink nightclub lighting for a seriously hype dance party. Laska passed the baton to his co-vocalist/drummer Karah James for her vocal portion of the tune and the band asked their fans to squat low before jumping up like a bunch of animals on the final chorus.

James came to the front of the stage while the drum track played for the upbeat “Tempo”, while guitarist Mickey Brandolino got back-to-back with Laska on their guitars. Later Brandolino hit the drums and also offered some bars on the mic.

Their bop “Oh shit…are we in love?” was a total head-bopping, arms-in-the-air highlight with the audience singing every damn word. Laska stood up on the speaker and the band killed it on the stage, under purple lights.

“Cure” offered even more variety, with its 90s pop/rock vibes, and the “I can be your Nirvana if you wanna” lyric as red and white lights flashed. 

“Did anyone come from a shitty part-time job today?”, asked Laska. “This is “sucks to see you…”, quit that job if you want to do something else”. And the band played their danceable rock song “sucks to see you doing better”, while the crowd clapped during the chorus. The track very much has some vibes of The 1975, with Alex DiMauro’s bass, Brandolin’s guitar and James’ drum roll parts keeping up the momentum.

valley was splashed with red and white light for one of their signature mid-tempos, “A Phone Call From Amsterdam”, while the crowd sang along during the faint guitar cry. It was an absolute highlight of the night, with an excellent instrumental and all the feels, followed by scream of course.

They finally slowed it down (and caught their breaths) for “Boys And Girls Of 2018 And Everything In Between”, delivering an emotional instrumental, with pounding rhythmic drums from James and Brandolino, complementing the fragility and intensity of the lyric “another generation dying”. 

The bright mood was up again for Maybe favorite “Park Bench”, while the stage was lit in green with accents of blue and valley just completely rocked it on this “mm-mm-mm-mm”-good song.

“I guess I can say with my four best friends that we just sold out the fucking Troubadour”, said Laska, while the place eruped in applause for a good 20 seconds. He introduced the band and mentioned a story of how they were in LA a long time ago trying to figure out how to get to the famed venue one day. Then Laska introduced the next song and said Mickey Brandolino wrote the chorus. That song was the new “7 Stories”, an anthemic song about resiliency with Brandolino “ooh-ing” beautifully, Laska and James having shining moments and Alex joining in on the vocals as well. It was a moving and standout moment of the night, with Laska on acoustic guitar, the band singing a four-part harmony and James getting another prominent vocal moment (which brought on more screams, especially since she’s in the back banging away on the drums as well). Laska played out the delicate final chorus while singing the powerful lyrics that seem to resonate well with Gen Z: “I wish I could stop myself from feeling, it’s over now and I still can’t believe it”.

The slightly-folk-pop section of the show continued with the nostalgic “All the Animals I Drew as a Kid”, showcasing lovely harmonies between Laska and James, while the others joined in. James came forward to the microphone and valley blended effortlessly into a brief minute-long cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” before shifting the medley back to their ballad. It was yet another layer to the sing-a-long magic that valley has a knack for inspiring at their live shows.

The energy was back up for their inescapable “hiccup” with valley fans singing every word, followed by “Can We Make It? (Jim Carrey)”, keeping the crowd grooving, the guitarists jamming together and Laska up on the speaker hovering over their fans. He said they were going to put a “coin in the valley jukebox” for the This Room Is White tune “You”, filled with catchy “oohs” and picking up its pop/rock effervescence, while the guitar effects kept the crowd dancing and clapping along. valley’s earliest hit “Swim” took over The Troubadour with its anthemic, almost spiritual essence with Brandolino taking over a massive guitar solo halfway through on center stage.

Laska took a moment with valley fans and talked about how they wrote Last Birthday and sucks to see you doing better in LA in 2019. “We were writing both of those EPS and got thrown into a session and we were all dealing with baggage that day”, said Laska. “Sometimes sessions are like therapy and we were sitting on the grass and we wanted to write something but it was dark. They wanted something for radio”. The story continued about a producer who wasn’t tapping into the band’s feelings and they ditched the recording. They instead got in touch with their friend Andy Seltzer and walked into a session with him, and everything about it felt like valley and not anyone else. This was all to set up the next one, “Man, doesn’t society sometimes just suck”?, and the fans were riled up for “Society”. They followed it up with the 90s-leaning “homebody” while fans sang along to Laska and James’ beautiful falsetto and belting.

For valley’s encore, Rob Laska now had his sunglasses off for the first time of the night and he looked around The Troubadour before kicking of the stadium-ready “There’s Still a Light in the House”. The fans singing along sounded like a choir, and maybe that’s the point. For 80 minutes there was a bonded togetherness that was pure and safe and freeing.

Laska thanked Catie Turner for opening, calling her an “absolute treasure” and added that he thought valley’s Atlanta show was the best…until Los Angeles. A huge roar erupted and he then added that he wanted everyone to take care of one another and to sing as loudly as possible so the cars driving by would wonder “what the fuck is going on at The Troubadour”. valley called it a night with their gold-selling hit record “Like 1999” with Laska rocking out on his guitar, tongue out for a moment and the fans of course singing together in unison.

Words by Michael Menachem
Photos by Tim Aarons