CMW Review: The Spook School, The People The Poet, May 6

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Back in the day when the time that a show aired on TV mattered a whole lot more than it does now, the term “Friday night death slot” was coined. Because people would generally rather go out somewhere than stay in and watch television on a Friday night, this time slot created a sink or swim situation, thus dooming a show to a lack of viewers and often ultimately leading to cancellation if it couldn’t hold on to an audience. On a similar note, it would seem that live music may have corresponding times and places wherein, for whatever reasons, a band doesn’t get much of an audience. I happened to observe this a couple of times during CMW, and both acts responded in perhaps the only way they could: by not giving a fuck and playing the best show they can regardless.

First up was Welsh band The People The Poet, who were playing at the rather un-rock ‘n roll hour of 6:00 pm. At a festival like CMW, where the tradition of having day shows has never caught on, this ensured that they’d be playing to a crowd of mostly after work drinkers and/or people on their way to the Blue Jays game. “We’re not from here, which explains why we’re playing to this many people,” offered up singer Leon Stanford by way of introduction. The band took the low pressure environment of such a show and ran with it, playing a loose but enjoyable set and seemingly using it as an excuse to work on their goofy stage banter game, commenting about the kinds of people found on chat roulette and taking a few shots at baseball (“It makes cricket look good.”).

Later that same evening, poppy indie/punk four piece The Spook School faced a similarly tiny and mostly indifferent crowd, but the band, who introduced themselves as “a bunch of queers from Scotland” put on a tight show regardless. Though they played a 1:00 am slot at The 300 Club to a mostly empty room, they still managed to impress me with their catchy numbers on topics such as sexuality and gender identity, with “Binary” and it’s singalong chorus of “01010101” ¬†standing out as a particular highlight. “I think I saw this on an episode of Behind The Music. It’s gonna be alright,” quipped drummer Niall McCamley at the start of their set as he surveyed the audience and he later joked about how much he was enjoying it in a way. “This is great. It’s like an intimate rehearsal, but we’ve got lights. And a hostage crowd that would rather be at the bar.”

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Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week

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