Canadian Music Week

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

Posted on by lauren in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | Leave a comment

1x1.trans CMW Review: River Tiber, Immanu El (Drake Hotel), Lioness, Savages (Lees 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

1x1.trans CMW Review: River Tiber, Immanu El (Drake Hotel), Lioness, Savages (Lees Palace), March 23

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

1x1.trans CMW Review: River Tiber, Immanu El (Drake Hotel), Lioness, Savages (Lees Palace), March 23

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

1x1.trans CMW Review: River Tiber, Immanu El (Drake Hotel), Lioness, Savages (Lees Palace), March 23

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…


1x1.trans CMW Review: River Tiber, Immanu El (Drake Hotel), Lioness, Savages (Lees Palace), March 23

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.



CMW Review: Bronx Cheerleader, March 22, Rancho Relaxo

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week | Leave a comment

1x1.trans CMW Review: Bronx Cheerleader, March 22, Rancho Relaxo

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Similarly, if a band plays a showcase at a music festival and pretty much no one shows up, did they still make a sound? Most definitely … on both counts. Why would you think a tree falling wouldn’t make a sound? Seems like basic science to me. Unless you’re in space. In space, no one can hear you scream. Or fall, if you’re a tree.

But what about the band in question? Saint Catharines based Bronx Cheerleader were faced with the conundrum most bands will have to face at some point (unless you’re one of those bands who’s insanely hyped up before you’ve ever played a show, in which case you really should have faced this – it builds character or something), which is what to do when you’re playing to an empty house. In Bronx Cheerleader’s case, they did the only thing you really can do: play on regardless. The band for their part made the most of it, playing a solid set and having a bit of a sense of humour about the whole thing. “That was awesome by the way. That was the best version of that song ever. You guys are lucky,” said the bass player jokingly at the end of one song. But he was kind of right. I’d never seen nor heard of these guys before tonight and while it may not have been the optimal conditions, they sounded pretty good. Alternating between slightly shoegazey, psychey, trippier numbers and more straight ahead rockers, the band did make a good impression on me, especially when they featured the steel guitar.

It’s a shame when a band plays to an empty house, but better luck next time I guess. At least the band managed to escape the wrath of the endlessly entertaining Slagging Off, garnering a generally favourable review from the guy who hated just about everyone playing the festival.  So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

CMW Review: Peter Peter, March 22, Sneaky Dee’s

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week | Leave a comment

1x1.trans CMW Review: Peter Peter, March 22, Sneaky Dees

When I saw Peter Peter setting up, I had the feeling that this could be a good one – two synths and a dude with a saxophone onstage boded well for the evening. Of course with that much equipment onstage and six band members, the possibility for things to go wrong are also higher. And so of course, everything that can go wrong will, and after clearing up a few issues in a lengthy sound check, the band was finally ready to go … 20 minutes after their scheduled set time. It must be frustrating for bands playing these kind of festivals, especially if they’re perfectionists about their sound. However, despite those initial problems, once the band finally did get going, they sounded good and the crowd was into it.

Though I assumed while watching that this was a full band project, Peter Peter is in fact, a solo act. That said, if not for the efforts of the entire band, this would have been a less enjoyable set. The full sound provided by them (especially the sax player) really added a lot to the performance.

I will admit though, that while it sounded good in the moment, I don’t really recall after the fact what any of their songs sounded like other than that there was lots of synth and sweet sax solos and that they were generally pretty enjoyable. Did I like these guys? Yes. Were they outstanding or unlike anything I’ve ever heard before? Not exactly. Still, Peter Peter had a decent amount of charisma onstage, sounded good, and put on a solid performance. Perhaps they will be the next to fill the “Francophone band that Anglos will listen to” niche, following in the footsteps of Karkwa and Malajube.

CMW Review: Cellphone, March 23, Comfort Zone

Posted on by Paul in Canadian Music Week | Leave a comment

1x1.trans CMW Review: Cellphone, March 23, Comfort Zone

The week before Canadian Music Week, I had the pleasure of hearing German folk pop band BOY for the first time. I enjoyed their sound and they had a charming demeanor onstage, so when I saw they were playing the El Mocambo at 11:00 on Saturday night, I figured I’d check them out again since there was nothing else that grabbed my attention during that time slot. However, after being annoyed by the overly chatty crowd and dubious sound mix at their show, I hightailed it to the Comfort Zone. No fault of the band of course. It may have, in fact, gotten better but I was in no mood to wait. After all, I didn’t want my Nick Cave buzz to wear off. So I made my way across the street to a place where there would be little schmoozing – the Comfort Zone. Dark and loud – a description that fits both the venue and the type of band I usually tend to see there. I knew that this would be a crowd that would be focused on the music and nothing else.

It turns out I made the right choice. Electronic punks Cellphone (try googling that band name) would have been impressive just based on the energy of their set alone. That they sounded like what The Dead Kennedys would have accomplished if you threw a pair of synthesizers in the mix only added to the fun. Sure, it wasn’t German folk pop, but it was probably what I needed at that point in the night anyways. These “4 wealthy deadbeats in international cahoots” are definitely on my radar right now. The next time Cellphone calls, I will answer. Sorry for the terrible play on words, but I couldn’t think of any other way to end this review. Only the best for you, folks. Only the best.

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