CMW Review: River Tiber, Immanu El (Drake Hotel), Lioness, Savages (Lee’s Palace), March 23

If you are going to attend a city wide music festival, it is imperative that you follow these simple rules to ensure success. See the band you’ve just discovered and have fallen in love with, it will be one of the best shows of the year so far. See bands you’ve never ever heard of before that you chose randomly because timing or venue proximity worked. Stay hydrated, lube up that bicycle if weather is suitable and show hop until your hearts content.

I could only make it out for shows on Saturday so I tried to squeeze in as many as I could. Nothing except for random shitty pop punk band at Mod Club let me down.

First stop – The Drake Hotel to see River Tiber and Immanu El

River Tiber was a nice mellow kick off to a night I was barely hanging on to, due to a blasted hangover from the day prior. R&B tones mixed with a jazzy feel, giving off a “How to Dress Well” vibe, the lead singer of River Tiber has got some nice singing chops. Playing to a crowd of maybe 20 people (it was only 8pm after all), River Tiber is a local Toronto band, started a few years ago by Tommy Paxton-Beesley. Started in his basement, he recorded and produced every song, and later collaborated with musicians to create a full album and live show from it. Their second album Synapses came out in January, and if you like electronic indie tinged with R&B and jazz, I highly suggest checking these guys out.

Immanu El – The Drake Hotel

A Swedish band that has made its mark in Europe.They have toured extensively and released three albums, it’s surprising they’ve stayed off of Canadian radar for so long, but this is what CMW is for. An Earthy band that invokes feelings of being adrift at sea. Their music is grand and would be smartly used as a film score. The band collaborated with other artists and built a replica of an 1800’s ship that they set sail and filmed. The footage of beautiful open water, mountains, landscapes, sunsets, is their film, and their music is the soundtrack. It fits beautifully and you get lost in the music, creating a haze in your mind as you are getting lost at sea on the projection screen.

Pop Punk band at Mod Club

I don’t know who they are. I met up with friends briefly, the band was from Toronto, I did not care for them, but many large men did and so did the guys doing push-ups for Jager shots … I left hastily after.

Lioness at Lee’s Palace

I haven’t seen Lioness in six years. Formed by previous band members of Controller. Controller (RIP)  bassist Ronnie Morris, singer Vanessa Fischer and drummer Jeff Scheven have been around since 2007. In 2007 I saw them play a smoke filled loft party that turned into a hot sweaty dance mess, needless to say it was hard to breathe, but I was satisfied. Six years later, here they are, still going strong. Fischer’s vocals are like a punch to the throat, her wild ensembles add a 70’s glam rock vibe to it all. Morris’ bass wasn’t playing out of the main speakers, just from the amp, and cut out from time to time, but even with technical difficulties, it did not faze the crowd which filled up fast on the floor at Lee’s.  By this time, I was lost in the music, my feet unable to stop moving, my formerly blasting hangover nothing but a mere memory. This was all just the story to the climax though with…


The pseudo lovechild of Souxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division, Savages are a four piece all female group from London UK. I always thought, if I could time travel I would love to go to late 70’s post-punk era UK, when the shows you were at were small, filled with angry youth that were looking for an escape. Along came bands like Joy Division, The Fall, and later on New Order. Bands where, when you saw them, you knew you were seeing something special, and that later on in life, those shows would resonate with you, change you and when you told someone “I saw that band at this small club” they would look at you in awe because you had been a part of the beginning of their story. This is how I and maybe others felt seeing Savages. They entered to ominous ambient tones, no light on the stage save a single spotlight. The lead singer Jehny Beth came out like she was looking for a fight, literally, I had seen her punching air in the greenroom above. Their is a subtleness to this band. They’re not flashy, they ooze stage presence without being showy. They come onstage with the understanding that they are there to share something with you. Bassist Ayse Hassan plays with her eyes closed the entire time. Jehny scared me a bit, but in a really good way. The crowd was moshing by the end of it. Guitarist Gemma Thompson played hard and fast, the world shut out, just her and the guitar. After this show, I had to call it a night. I love Suuns, but this was the apex. I can’t wait to see them again.



Posted on by lauren in Canadian Music Week, Concerts