Tag Archives: Canadian Music Week
Hey guys. Are you exicted for the long (Easter) weekend? You’re probably off basking in the sun right now as it looks gorgeous outside. I wouldn’t know as I’ve been locked into my apartment the past few days trying to make my post festival cold go away in time to go home for Easter, with no success. I hope you’re feeling better than me right now.
Anyhow, here are a whole bunch of links to read should you get bored between eating giant meals and chocolate eggs with your family:
- Dear Canadian Music Week, it’s not us, it’s you. As much as I do love Canadian Music Week for the sheer amount of bands I get to see, this article makes so many valid points about how it could improve. In the chase to compete with the big names NXNE pulls, it just ends up misleading people and wasting time (which is why I never go to those shows). They need to make clear rules for each venue and not just tack their name onto big acts that would already be playing a show here anyhow.
- A true CMW hater right there. This blog was the talk of the festival all week. I came upon this post when reading BlogTO’s CMW choices, and saw it linked in the comments. After sharing it on Twitter, everyone had an opinion on his opinions. While I referred to it as the ‘angry blog’ when discussing with people at shows, I definitely think he has some very valid points about the festival and the current state of the music scene here. I disagree with listening to 20 seconds of one bands song and writing a harsh one liner about them – that’s not an honest review, it’s an attempt at low level humour at the expense of others – but I still think what he’s doing definitely has bloggers re-evaluating their willingness to be harsh on bands because of how small the community can feel here. And it is very small. I could (and probably will) write a whole post about this. I think/hope it’s been the kick in the ass this scene needs.
- CBC’s list of the best Canadian singers. Um, cmon. It’s lists like this that make me wonder who writes this shit for CBC?
- Record Store Day 2013 full list of releases announced. WEEE. It’s so close!
- The 30 Greatest Rock and Roll Movie Moments. I think Rob may have missed a few, and let in a few that wouldn’t make my list, but this is my favourite link of the week. My music education came through the movies, and this list shows how that happened. “After Mean Streets, neither music nor the movies would ever be the same.” TRUTH.
- Digital Music News: Music supervisor still “shocked” that TV studios still pay labels to use music. This is an interesting debate that will obviously piss off musicians. One of the comments was that if you don’t pay for the song why do you pay the actors, they’re getting publicity from doing the film as well. The difference here is that the actors are doing something new specifically for this film, while a chosen song would exist with or without the film. You can definitely make a case for a musicians career BLOWING UP instantly after landing a spot in a big movie trailer – The Lumineers for example.
- Fallon, Leno, and Late Night: What the shakeup could mean to the music biz. Leno doesn’t spotlight new or interesting music, like ever, while Jimmy is basically known for it. This final, long overdue boot of Leno’s unfunny ass out the door will definitely be good for music, and great for comedy.
- What Record Labels don’t want you to know they do. Musicians should definitely read this.
- Got a song stuck in your head? Solving an anagram can help get rid of it. A good trick for when something awful(ly catchy) like “Call Me Maybe” won’t stop looping around your brain.
- A great live music performance requires more than being rehearsed. If you can’t connect, get off the stage.
- The economic imperative for investing in arts and culture. A must read.
- The Prism Prize lists a bunch of their favourite classic Canadian music videos. Go watch them all, its nostalgic and impressive.
- Adding to that, Rich Aucoin won first ever Prism Prize!
- Long Distance Movie won fan pick of the week on Cinecoup for their cheap tricks mission video, go check it out. While you’re there, vote for which movie poster you prefer, and tell them why. Both main choices are almost tied so more opinions are definitely necessary.
- Young adults really do have it tougher. Someone backs up what we as young adults already know because we are living it.
- The thirty most hilarious autocorrect struggles ever. Heh.
- 26 reasons you wish your best friend was Andy Dwyer from Parks and Recreation. Yes, yes.
- Why did Google Reader die?
- The best hostels in Toronto. If you’re looking to visit my fair city, that will give some solid options on places to stay.
- Find the thing you are most passionate about, then do it on nights and weekends for the rest of your life. Haha.
- Lena Dunham quietly shakes up the writing operation on HBO’s Girls.
- Girls season finale: How long did Adam’s romantic run probably take? Amazing. That scene is every girls fantasy.
- I am not your wife, sister, or daughter. I am a person. Great article on the odd way we tackle rape culture by putting women into these roles to UNobjectify them. We shouldn’t need to be unobjectified. We are humans, that’s the only thing that should matter when looking at Stubenville or any other case.
- Finally check out this hilarious video on long defunct Larry’s Hideaway… where people went crazy for metal music in Toronto in the 80s:
Another CMW is upon us, and by now most of you probably know this is one of my favourite times to be in Toronto. I genuinely love Canadian Music Fest. It feels a whole lot more local and about the incredibly strong music community in Toronto than NXNE does to me, oddly enough. Or maybe it’s because it always marks the end of winter, so it feels especially nice to be out enjoying the city again. Let festival season begin.
This years lineup is especially good meaning there are far too many worthy bands playing for anyone to see all my choices, so you have a lot of options for each night of the fest (I have no idea how I’m going to narrow down who I actually see – Thursday’s options are almost making me cry with the Sophie’s Choice scheduling of all my faves).
With that said, here are my recommendations on which venues you should be at, and which bands you should be checking out, each night of the festival. Links to each band go to my favourite song of theirs, or a post I’ve done up on them in the past.
Tuesday March 19th
Horseshoe Nu Music Nite Showcase featuring The Nature Boys 8:40pm, Silver Creek 9:30pm, Inlet Sound 10:20pm, Artful Vandelays 11:10pm, The Bloody Five 12am.
Dakota Tavern Showcase featuring Willie Stratton 10pm, The Sam Willows 11pm, Graydon James and the Young Novelists 12am, and The Ballroom Thieves 1am. Any band that can make an overplayed Fun song sound good is a band worth checking out. The Sam Willows are the one band that have me truly excited from Tuesday’s lineup.
Wednesday March 20th
Six Shooter Records Outlaws and Gunslingers showcase at the Horseshoe featuring Daniel Romano 10pm, Jim Cuddy 11pm, Justin Rutledge 12am, Belle Starr 1am. To say I am in love with Daniel Romano’s ‘transformation’ into one of the best currently active country musicians (the hardest genre to get right, by far) anywhere is an understatement. I liked Attack In Black on some level, but moreso because it was really nice to see people I went to high school with, boys from Welland, being creative and doing really well at it. I think all of their new projects as individual artists are more interesting and beautiful than anything they did together in that band. Kind of like Alexisonfire – (but) that band sucked – while City and Colour is solid work.
DIANA 9pm Chvrches 10pm @ Mod Club (limited wristbands accepted). I saw DIANA live a few months back and the song they ended their set with (for which I haven’t been able to find anywhere online since!) was absolutely beautiful. It’s fitting that they’re opening up for this ‘buzz band’ that I haven’t quite made up my mind about yet.
Delta Will 9pm @ Supermarket.
Atom and the Volumes 10pm Sorry OK Yes 2am @ Rancho Relaxo. Sorry OK Yes is one of those rare bands to email me and actually get my attention (meaning they used my name instead of sending a generic email, and their music was actually good). They recently moved here from Milan where they had moderate success, and thank god for that move because their sound is developed, fun pop rock in the vein of the Black Keys – something we need more of in Toronto. I read something recently about how the problem with these festivals is that they can be CBC RADIO-core (which is kinda funny) but booking of bands like this prove that CanRock incestuous stereotype wrong.
Cai.ro 11pm @ Cabin 5. I adore Nate Daniels’ voice, and while I think he might actually be even stronger if he were to go solo, this band is criminally underrated in the Toronto scene (which probably won’t be the case for much longer now that Audioblood is working with them).
Revelstoke 11pm @ Rivoli. Another overlooked musician from Toronto, one of the stronger singer/songwriters playing the festival.
Gabrielle Papillon 12am @ Drake Underground. This woman can sing. If you loved Kathleen Edwards latest, you should see Gabrielle play this week.
Thursday March 21st
ATTAGIRL 10pm @ Global Backpackers Village. Interesting venue, curious to see what a show would sound like here (!?!) – even if the venue proves to be shit, their songs are strong enough to still make it worth showing up. Make sure to check them out during CMW, they’re playing a few different sets and an in store!
Cai.ro 9pm Amos The Transparent 1am @ Dakota Tavern. Amos is one of those bands you need to see live to understand just how great they are. My favourite bands either have very few members or a ridiculous Broken Social Scene number of members – they fall into the latter, which always makes for a great show.
Strumbellas 9:20pm, Poor Young Things 10:10pm, Great Bloomers 11:10pm, Teenage Kicks 12:10pm, Ben Caplan 1:30am @ Horseshoe Tavern. This showcase is bumming me out because it features two of my most favourite Toronto bands – Poor Young Things and Teenage Kicks – the two that really pulled me back into the local scene in the first place – and I may have to miss it. I feel like it’s been forever since I’ve seen either of them play, and missing out would make that last even longer. Strumbellas, Great Bloomers and Ben Caplan all put on great shows as well so it’s fair to say this showcase is stacked.
Mo Kenney 9pm, Mad Ones 10pm, PS I Love You 11pm, Wildlife 12am, and a secret guest at 1am @ Great Hall. This is the reason I may have to miss the Horseshoe showcase. I haven’t seen Wildlife play in ages (maybe since last years CMW??) – and their new album is wonderful, and this is their first Toronto show since its release, AND their shows are always a highlight of any festival – so I really don’t want to miss it. Plus, apparently The Darcys are the secret guest, which makes it even harder to miss out on. And Mo Kenney, Mad Ones and PS I Love You are all great as well. Another stacked showcase. Thursday, why must you do this to me?
Honheehonhee 12am @ Rancho Relaxo. Every time I hear about this band, it’s from someone I trust telling me how unbelievable they are live. One of these days I may actually get to experience it for myself.
July Talk 1am @ Lee’s Palace. This band blows me away. While the female vocalist can be a bit much live (pouring blood all over herself onstage at the Horseshoe show was just corny, I can’t stand gimmicks onstage especially from a band as excellent as they are since it really only takes away from their sound) this is easily one of the most engaging bands coming out of Toronto right now. It’s hard to move away from the Tom Waits comparisons, but to be compared to such an enormous talent and have that comparison hold up is a huge feat and a mark of their massive potential.
Dangerband 1am @ Silver Dollar. This is one of those ridiculously young, fun bands like The Dirty Nil that is destined for big things. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them have great success in a couple years.
Friday March 22nd
Asgeir Trausti 9pm Soley 10pm @ Drake Underground. You know those rare bands who make music that is so incredibly beautiful, it doesn’t matter if you can’t understand the lyrics? Trausti’s music has that effect. Soley is the Lykke Li of Iceland. And that means I am super excited to see this showcase.
Pkew Pkew Pkew 10pm Reversing Falls 11pm @ Global Village Backpackers. Pkew is a guaranteed good time, and Reversing Falls is another band that proves Montreal has an incredible musical output right now.
The Zolas 8:30pm Young Rival 10:10pm Savages 11:10pm Limblifter 12:10am The Damn Truth 2:30am @ The Horseshoe. This showcase is a little spotty/uneven (which is the biggest criticism these festivals tend to get) but The Zolas and Young Rival are definitely not to be missed. I’m quite sad I have to decide between them and the Iceland showcase. And we all remember Limblifter from grade school, so that set will probably be pretty packed. I certainly won’t be there, but it seemed like I had to mention them anyway.
The Indies 8pm @ Kool Haus featuring Cadence Weapon, The Wooden Sky, Cold Specks, Yukon Blonde, Matt Mays, Metric (and others). Now that they’ve changed venues from the Royal York to Kool Haus, I’m wondering how this is going to work compared to the usual industry schmooze this awards show tends to be.
The Dirty Nil 11pm @ Bovine Sex Club. It’s well documented that I think these kids were born to be rock stars, and I’d put money on it happening sooner rather than later.
The Wilderness of Manitoba 11pm @ Revival.
Saturday March 23rd
Lowell 12:30pm @ Church of the Holy Trinity.
ATTAGIRL 8pm @ Velvet Underground.
Nick Cave 9pm @ Massey Hall (seriously limited wristbands accepted, go really fucking early if you want a chance at this one).
Aidan Knight 10:10pm, Cookie Duster 11:10pm, BadBadNotGood 12:10am, The Dirty Nil 2:30am @ The Horseshoe. Ended up missing Cookie Duster’s first show so I’m really hoping to catch this one, and I’m so happy The Dirty Nil are on the bill with them – they’re perfect way to end a crazy night.
Fucked Up’s final Long Winter featuring The Sadies, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (!!!), and more starting at 7pm @ The Great Hall.
Fade Chromatic 11pm @ Czehoski.
Savages 12am, Suuns 1am @ Lee’s Palace. Suuns are doing something different, definitely worth checking them out.
Papermaps 11pm, Boats 12am @ Rancho Relaxo. Definitely don’t miss Boats – (please don’t confuse them with another band playing called BOATS!) they are the band I’m most excited to check out this year at CMF and this is their only show!
Morgan Cameron Ross 9pm @ Supermarket. Love his voice.
Lowell, Austra starting at 8pm @ Danforth Music Hall. Austra live was one of the worst live shows I’ve seen, but their album work is solid so it felt wrong to leave them off, but this is definitely not at the top of my list for this night.
Ainsley McNeaney 10pm @ Garrison.
Apparat Organ Quartet 6:45pm, Revelstoke 7:30pm, Soley 8:15pm, Cai.ro 9pm, Asgeir Trausti 9:45pm @ The Hoxton.
Pat Wright 2am @ Underground Garage. Pat is one of the best guitarists in the city, easily.
Paradise Animals 11pm @ Wrongbar. Any band who can cover one of my favourite Bonnie Prince Billy songs without fucking up has my attention.
Sunday March 24th
Atom and the Volumes 10pm @ Painted Lady.
Alright Alright 9pm, Boy 10pm, The Beauties 11pm @ Dakota Tavern (limited wristbands accepted). Super excited to see Boy live, and The Beauties have been putting on great Sunday shows at the Dakota for years and years and years.
Who are you most excited to see this year? Did I forget any great bands? Tell me in the comments, please!
This month’s mixtape took a while for me to figure out, as I’ve been trying to stick to specific themes and have already used the original themes that inspired this monthly mixtape idea in the first place, but as I sat around last week trying to think of a new theme, realizing I was a week behind on the mix already because of catching up on Canadian Music Week coverage – it became obvious. A mix featuring the bands I saw (or meant to see but ran out of time/energy) at the festival. So without further ado, here is April’s mix.
Stream it below or DOWNLOAD IT HERE!
(If you represent an artist on the mix and would like their song removed, please contact me at lisa at turntherecordover.com and I will happily remove it right away, thanks!)
The Dirty Nil – Verona Lung
Attagirl – Sleep A Little
Poor Young Things – The Low Road
Topanga – Oceans
Dan Mangan – Rows of Houses
Eight and a Half – Go Ego
Gold & Youth – Time to Kill
The Darcys - When I Am New Again
Zeus – Marching Through Your Head
The Sheepdogs – I Don’t Know
Wildlife – Killing For Fun
The Dears – We Can Have It
Cold Specks – Holland
Joel Plaskett – Lightning Bolt
Ben Caplan – Conduit
Rich Aucoin – It
If you like this mix please stumble it, tweet it, share it on facebook, etc! I love getting feedback on the mixes, so comments are very much appreciated.
I arrived to the Horseshoe for the Arts & Crafts showcase just after 10pm, weary at the thought of another very long night ahead of me, but very excited for this lineup. I figured arriving in time for their set would ensure I’d have no issue getting in, as they were only the second band of the night, but of course, Arts & Crafts knows how to pack a venue so there was a long line up already when I got there. Disappointed, I contemplated joining all my friends who chose to go to the El Mocambo for the Dine Alone showcase (which had another great lineup, but it didn’t even come close to this in sheer quality of bands playing, in my opinion). Luckily, being media sometimes has its perks, and I was pulled out of the long line by someone I’ve admired for years, and was able to catch the very end of Gold & Youth’s set.
I definitely didn’t catch enough to give a proper review, but the last two songs I heard were enough to leave me wanting more. Their first single “Time To Kill” is infectious in its rhythms, the use of layering and harmonies in their sound is enviable for such a young band, and the vocals have a deep Ian Curtis-ish tone to them. By all accounts they sound like a British band, and I mean that as a big compliment. This electro-rock trio was the perfect lead in for the next band.
I recently wrote about Eight and a Half after their first show at the Drake, so I won’t go into much detail again, but I will say the shows they played between that one and this showcase obviously upped their confidence and cohesion as a band, and any uncertainty present in their first show had dissipated at this point. They seemed more comfortable together, and seeing them again only served to confirm my initial belief that they are a band to watch out for.
Despite The Darcys self titled debut easily making my top 10 Best Albums of 2011 list, for one reason or another I kept missing out on them live, so as you can imagine my anticipation for this set was huge. I loved the album, but could they live up to the hype? Of course, they met and exceeded my high expectations, and I was instantly in love with them from the first song in.
I had heard the comparisons to Radiohead all along and noticed a slight influence in the vocals, but didn’t realize why they so regularly received the compliment until I witnessed Jason Couse on that stage. Seeing Radiohead live was possibly the best musical experience I’ve ever had in my life, so comparing someone to the genius that is Thom Yorke is my highest praise. Clearly, his performance skills are very much influenced by Yorke’s spastic trance like stage presence, and it made for a show I will never forget.
The most memorable songs of their set had to be “Shaking Down The Old Bones” and of course, the incredible “Don’t Bleed Me,” but I’m sure if you asked someone who is more of a Steely Dan fan than I am, they would have went with one of their Aja covers. At the end of the day, they are a spectacular (and well dressed) band in the studio as well as on the stage, and I will now be making it a point to never miss another Toronto show of theirs again.
Zeus could probably be called my favorite (established and currently active) Canadian band. To say I love them is a gross understatement. They are one of those bands I refuse to miss live. Even if a bigger international band is in town and has a show the same night as them, I know their performance won’t compare to what Zeus will give out. They are the one band that I can truly say, I feel sorry for you if you’ve never witnessed their energy and talent in person.
Every single song they’ve recorded is single worthy, pure 60s/70s nostalgic bliss (and not in that currently popular but dated one note throwback way, they always remain modern and timeless in their sound). Because – like the Beatles – they have three hugely talented songwriters/multi-instrumentalists, they manage to cover all the bases within one band, never slipping into anything even remotely boring. And with the recent release of their second album Busting Visions, they’ve proved yet again their infinite potential.
I’m starting to wish all bands would employ that Beatlesy multiple songwriter format, as it is the best way to ensure the records are incredible. When each musician only gets three songs, there is no doubt they are putting out their best work. And being surrounded by writers as talented as you are allows for a high level of quality control and feedback that other bands just don’t have.
Before they even took the stage I could see the setlist, and was floored when I saw they were opening with “Heavy On Me,” which happens to be my favorite song on Say Us and is in my opinion the sexiest song ever recorded – followed only now by their incredible “Hello Tender Love” which I also saw on the setlist and had a little freak-out about. That was the song I was waiting for, having literally played it on repeat non stop the week leading up to the show (I get obsessive like that about certain songs). They honestly could have played 20 minutes of guitar noodling after those two and I would have been more than happy.
When they came out, I had to laugh at the perfectly mustached Carlin Nicholson’s amazing bedazzled white leather jacket – he always proves to be the showman of the band in the same way Chris Murphy is in Sloan. I always feel sad when a band lacks that superstar personality.
After sexing the room up with “Heavy on Me” they owned the night with “River By The Garden,” their epic cover of Genesis’ “That’s All,” “Love In A Game,” and of course their current single, the infectious “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” Unfortunately, because of time restraints they ended up not playing the setlist as I saw it, and my heart sank when it appeared they had skipped over “Hello Tender Love,” but towards the end of their set Carlin asked the audience what we wanted them to play, and I immediately seized the opportunity to call out for it (along with many others, I’m sure) and sure enough, he said “We heard ‘Hello Tender Love,’ we weren’t gonna play that one, but we will.” It’s rare I will scream for anything at a show as I usually find those people obnoxious, but this was a situation that warranted it, and thankfully it paid off. It’s very likely I won’t get the chance to see them play again until Osheaga in August, so I had to have it.
The set was super short which had to be disappointing for a lot of people that seemed to be here just for them, with the crowd calling out for an encore after they left the stage (but again, CMW doesn’t allow for encores). It was kind of awkward when they came back to strike their gear and the crowd cheered, thinking they were gonna play again.
Dan Mangan was the unsurprising (he was playing at The Indies the next night) surprise guest at the showcase, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. I’ll admit I was only a casual fan of his for a long time, knowing he was beloved by basically everyone with the same taste as me, but never really feeling connected to his albums in the intense way I usually require to really back a musician (Oh Fortune didn’t make my top 10). Turns out, like many bands, I just needed to finally see him live to fully understand what he was all about.
Although some of the guys in his band sort of turned me off for some reason, he was charming and adorable, thanking all the bands, the label, the audience, and just seeming genuinely grateful that everyone was there for him so late. He played probably the longest set I saw during CMW, and unlike The Dears the night before, it didn’t feel too long or sink into boring territory. As the performance went on, he started to have even more fun with it, making it impossible for me to leave despite being exhausted and in physical pain from standing for so many hours at shows every day.
He even seemed slightly drunk, in that way that makes singer songwriter types throw all inhibitions to the floor and do things like this:
Someone’s phone caught a video of the unexpected moment:
The best songs of the night were definitely that performance of “Robots” that had the crowd jubilantly singing along, and what is undeniably the best song off of Oh Fortune, “Rows of Houses” which he took the time to point out is about Gordie – a character from one of my favorite movies of all time, Stand by Me - who was told he would never be able to make a living as a writer (but then of course he did <3).
It seems Dan and I share a similar affinity for darker stories, which was all the more obvious when he brought out Neil from Zeus to join him on a cover of my all time favorite singer-songwriter Elliott Smith‘s “Waltz #2″. It was a weird moment, wherein I realized I was an Elliott Smith fan among Dan Mangan fans. It made me feel old. I never had the chance to experience Elliott’s music live, so hearing an incredibly talented musician (who is obviously very influenced by the man) perform the song to perfection was an unreal moment that had me attempting to hold back tears. From that point on there was no going back to casual fan, he is probably the number one person I’d like to sit down and have a conversation about music/art/life with at this point, and I will never skip out on his shows again.
The new generation of Arts & Crafts stars have been ushered in, and it’s no surprise I’m in love with all of them given the influential bands I’ve mentioned in this post. A new Radiohead, Beatles, Joy Division and Elliott Smith? Yes, yes please. There really is no other label that unquestionably gets it this right, this often.
Day two at Canadian Music Festival was kind of a fail in that everyone seemed to be scheduled for a different time than they were actually playing, and this led to me only being able to see three bands perform. I could have stayed up til 4am to see a fourth, but the busy first day and having to work in the morning prevented me from having that kind of energy. The good part is I still saw two incredible shows, and one decent one.
The first show of the night was one I had been anticipating for weeks. As you may have noticed, I think Al Spx has what it takes to save Canadian music from this awful wave of female performers who seem to think flailing your arms in front of your face and acting eccentric makes you an interesting musician. It’s an epidemic that seems to be growing in this city especially, so watching a Toronto girl get onstage and command it, with a real voice, singing incredible songs, was refreshing.
This was Cold Specks first headlining show, so rather than bunch her in their Friday night showcase where her bluesy soul music wouldn’t have meshed well with their rock band line up, Arts & Crafts booked her a fitting venue all to herself. The Music Gallery is an old church they now use for shows (I’d only ever been there to see Smog play once, years ago), and hers is the kind of music rooted in gospel tradition, so it was the perfect place for her debut.
Though the building was grotesquely hot from the weird heat wave we were having in the city, and the show started later than I had been told when I was invited, this didn’t take away from the performance in any way.
As she took her place in front of the audience, her immediate discomfort at the pressure this show held was obvious. She made shy comments between songs, but eventually relaxed into it, accepting the warm reception she received from the room, telling jokes, and even doing an epic rendition of the theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. You haven’t heard that song until you’ve heard a real singer perform it.
The highlights of the set were “Holland,” the gorgeous first single from the album, and the epic “Lay Me Down” which she noted was the first song she ever wrote as a teenager – something that continues to blow my mind.
There is a sadness and depth to her music that some may call depressing, and I think she made a conscious choice to be warm, funny and friendly, in order to dispel any potential sad-sack reputation that comes with exposing the darkest part of ones emotions. There is something unique to what she is doing, but it is not depressing in any way, instead it is inspiring in its rawness. I think Cold Specks will be another big Arts & Crafts success story in the tradition of Feist, and I can’t wait for the album to be released.
My love for Wildlife is no secret. I raved about their NXNE performance last June after stumbling upon them in May and being blow away by their talent, energy and sheer songwriting abilities. And they were just as strong for their showcase at Lee’s for CMW. Unfortunately, this was another set that was scheduled for the wrong time, so in a rush I cabbed to the venue right after Cold Specks, but when I arrived the sign said midnight, so I was stuck up at Bloor and Bathurst nowhere near another venue, and my plan to see Topanga play at midnight was ruined. My group didn’t want to check out Tribes (which I now regret) so we killed the hour before their set at Paupers.
When we headed back to Lee’s they were already onstage, and the keyboardist said “this will be our last song” which made my heart stop, thinking the venue had got the time wrong, not the schedule. I was about to flip out thinking I’d missed their set, but when they kept playing I realized it was a joke, thankfully.
The set was short but as praiseworthy as always. I had brought along some friends who had yet to see them, and by the end of their show they were completely blown away, even saying Wildlife was the best band they saw that week by the end of the festival. They do have that effect. I have taken many people to see Wildlife since I came across them, and each one has came out as in love with them as I was after the first time I inadvertently witnessed their magic.
Their new music video might be a rip off of Dan Mangan’s adorable video for “Robots,” that doesn’t quite work for me with the intensity of the song, but live they never ever fail. They played my two absolute favorites from Strike Hard, Young Diamond, “Killing for Fun” and “Drunken Heart” which was all I could ask for, along with their staples “Stand In The Water,” “Sea Dreamer,” and a new song that I can’t wait to get my hands on. I am eagerly anticipating a new release from these guys.
Despite The Dears decade long career that began as a huge part of the Montreal explosion of the early aughts, I’ve never really found their music particularly engaging. And unfortunately, seeing them live at the El Mocambo at this showcase didn’t serve to change that. By the time we arrived after Wildlife, they were already on, and they played quite a long set, closing out the bar for the night. After hanging around the back for a drink I decided to move up, hoping being closer to the performance might increase my interest.
Although following the intense energy of the guys in Wildlife isn’t easy, there were still a few highlights. One I mentioned in my last post (singer Murray Lightburn showing his disdain for the industry types hanging out at the back ignoring the set), another being his hilarious quoting of Kardinal Official’s “The Anthem” (which I’m gonna quote all the time now) engaging the TO pride in the room, and the biggest being a singalong performance of the lullaby-ish ”We Can Have It”, that had the room singing in unison “Someone somewhere says they’ve got it all, but that’s not even what we want, not even close , not even close, it won’t ever be what we want…” There couldn’t be a more accurate statement representing the attitude of CMW types.
As the set dragged on, my exhaustion started to kick in and I joined my friends who were already falling asleep on the back couches. We stayed until the end of the show, but no one was up for heading to Silver Dollar mere seconds away for Sandman Viper Command, who are an excellent live band that I would have loved to catch.
I think if I were more of a Dears fan going in, or not already exhausted, or had not just seen the always incredible Wildlife, I may have been a lot more into their set than I was, but as it was, it was a long set with too few stand out tracks to make me want to go home and give them another try, in the way that both Joel Plaskett and Dan Mangan successfully did.