First Play Live

First Play Live: BadBadNotGood, IV

BadBadNotGood perform songs from the band's new album, IV, during a late-night recording session at the Hearn Generating Station in Toronto.
First Play Live: BadBadNotGood, IV.

The Hearn Generating Station is an abandoned, coal-fired power plant whose crumbling, majestic beauty was recently on display for Toronto's Luminato Festival. The partially gutted building is larger than the Coliseum in Rome and New York's Lincoln Center. The cavernous space is a tangled mess of twisted rebar, rusty steel girders and cracked concrete. Buildings don't always elicit emotional responses, but stepping into the ruins of the Hearn is like stepping into a magical world; the immense size and soaring structure illuminate the possible.

What kind of band does one record in a space like this? A band that knows how to set a mood. A band that is more interested in wandering than arriving. A band whose musical explorations have transcended the boundaries between hip-hop, jazz and pop. 

BadBadNotGood's expansive new album, IV, was released on July 8. CBC Music found out about the band's new album around the same time we heard we could record in the Hearn. The match seemed almost too perfect, but thankfully the one night we could access the Hearn was also the one night that BBNG had available between its U.S. and European tours.

We couldn't enter the Hearn until after the Luminato festivities wrapped up for the day, so we arrived at 11 p.m. and worked until 4 a.m. After the frenzy of running cables and lugging lights into position, BBNG took over and began the sacred ritual. The soulful singer Charlotte Day Wilson sings on "In Your Eyes" to start the session, and then the band continues with four more new songs. Leland Whitty is now a permanent band member on sax, joining Chester Hansen, Matt Tavares and Alex Sowinski.

Special thanks goes to the entire staff of the Luminato Festival, who worked hard and stayed late to make this shoot possible. Watch the videos above.


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