CMW Re-Cap: Fest Highlights

Toronto-  So I think in the future when I say that my routine of little sleep and a lot of coffee will help me make it through CMW and work, I will think twice about the validity of that statement.  After a heavy schedule with CMW and work, followed by an even more insane week of work, I did not think I would survive until this weekend to write this.  Now with kangaroos, koala bears, the full selection of Tim Tam flavours, and lovely beaches on the horizon, I’ve been thinking about what to pack in one suitcase, and of course what Canadian music to preach to the Aussie office.  What better list to start with than with my favs from this year’s CMW.

1.   The Mountains and the Trees at Central’s Factor Breakthrough Session

I had heard of the Mountains and the Trees sometime last year, and was waiting for my opportunity to hear him perform live.  Hailing from Newfoundland, the Mountains and the Trees (a.k.a. Jon Janes), croons songs about things from his day to day life, to the lament of a person leaving his little town by the sea for better opportunity.  His performance was honest, humble and with heart—the type of show that sits you down, captivates you by story through song, and one which you find yourself humming along with, or tapping your foot to the beat of the drum.  Okay, so maybe a man who plays guitar, harmonica, banjo, and ukulele makes me weak in the knees, but there’s an earnest air to his overall performance which I think is rare.  The Mountains and the Trees embark on a UK tour in May, but will be back in Toronto for NXNE in June.  Highly, highly recommend you check him out if you are a fan of folk rock.

2. Jason Collett, Zeus, and Bahamas at the Bonfire Ball, Lee’s Palace

I’m already a big fan of Jason Collett, so when I went to show I thought I was going to see a regular concert, with each act taking its turn.  I was pleasantly surprised to see everyone was each other’s back up band and played a solid 3 hour set of each other’s songs.  Not ever having seen a show like this before, I was really impressed even with Jason Collett’s apologies as he told the crowd they were still learning each other’s songs.  If he hadn’t said anything I would not have known—their chemistry on stage and their never ending energy would have told you this wasn’t their first show but maybe their tenth.  Zeus was a lot of fun, with songs and performances that sometimes reminded me of the Beatles.  Bahamas was also fantastic and a great discovery for me.  As for Jason Collett, his set included a lot of songs from his highly acclaimed album, Idols of Exile (which was also fine by me, because they were all my favourite songs).  Overall, I had a great time, and it wasn’t just because of the three cups of coffee I had before the show!  You can also read Paul’s review here.

3. Jeff Martin at the Sirius Song Writer’s Café, Mod Club

Where has Jeff Martin been all these years?  Admittedly, I haven’t kept up with his music since the Tea Party—way back in my days from middle school and high school.  All I can say is that watching his performance at this age allowed me to gain a better appreciation for his level of musicianship.  Amazing, amazing, amazing.  Read about his performance here, from Mark, my partner in crime.

4. Joel Plaskett at the Sirius Song Writer’s Café, Mod Club

If there is one country which loves Joel Plaskett more than Canada, it is Australia.  I probably won’t understand why they love him so much until I get there, but given his following I’ll spare the office the opportunity to listen to my rendition of Deny, Deny, Deny.  The audience was treated to an acoustic set backed by Peter Elkas, and within the first strum of the guitar he had the majority of the club singing along.  As mentioned in my CMW primer, I’ve seen him more times than I care to share, and in classic Plaskett tradition (which I can definitely attest to), his performance left yet another crowd yelling, screaming, and begging for more.  Read Mark’s review about Joel here.

5. Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines at the Indie Awards, Royal York Hotel

I think perhaps the Indie Awards deserve a spot alone.  Compared to last year, the show has certainly improved.  With a better line up and longer sets, everyone was able to enjoy performances from the likes of Plants and Animals, the Rural Alberta Advantage, Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines.  While I love Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines, I do feel they could have picked other slightly lesser known bands to promote in front of a live, radio, and video audience.  Nevertheless, Great Lake Swimmers and the Constantines were outstanding and my favourites of the show.  I’ve seen each band many times, and both groups never fail to disappoint.

Honourable Mention:

Otter Petter at Central’s Factor Breakthrough Session

From Chicago, Otter Petter, plays sugar coated alt rock that’s reminiscent of Matthew Sweet.  Not always my cup of tea, I’ve heard a lot of bands try and do the same but failed to play music that could get me past thoughts and feelings of annoyance, headache, and the desire to stick a pen in my eye.  I find their music a good balance of guitar, harmony, and nah nah’s.  Songs are not too long and not too short, and leave you pretty satisfied.  It’s up beat feel good music.  So if you’re in the mood for sugary sweet indie rock, I would check out Otter Petter.

Best show: The Mountains and the Trees

Best show from a band you have never heard before: Bahamas and Otter Petter

Worst show: tie between We are the City and The Darcys (I’m sorry, I don’t want to be mean)

Best CMW moment: the return of Jeff Martin

Worst CMW moment: the asshole at the El Mo who would not stop farting while I was trying to take pictures of We Are the City.  That may have been why I disliked the set so much.  So sorry again.

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Posted on by guestwriter in Canadian Music Week, Concerts

6 Responses to CMW Re-Cap: Fest Highlights

  1. Mark

    Bahamas was great. I felt he was the competent musician at the Bonfire Ball.

    This is the first time I’ve seen the Great Lake Swimmers in a while. Their sound is a lot more lively than it used to be. I like it.

  2. Robb

    I have to completely disagree with your We Are the City “worst show”. Now, I wasn’t at the actual show you went to, but I was at the BC showcase at the Courtroom during CMW where they played w/Dan Mangan, Adaline among others.

    There were great and show a ton of promise. WATC are young musicians with a ton of energy, great use of dynamics and killer interludes.

  3. Mark

    Is it just me, or does the singer for the Mountains and the Trees look like Shia LaBeouf’s older brother?

  4. urMusicShan

    Congratulations to Great Lake Singers for Juno nomination! Heads up! urMusic is giving away tix to the awards show, plus airfare (to Newfoundland!) for 2 and more. Get more info at FB urMusic.

    Have a Good Day!
    urMusic Shan

  5. Pingback: Shows This Week – May 24th to May 30th | The Panic Manual

  6. Pingback: Summerworks: Wilderness of Manitoba, Mountain and the Trees, Entire Cities, The Weather Station, August 12, Upper Ossington Theatre | The Panic Manual

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