Canadian Music Week

CMW: 2010 Festival Highlights

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – Well the dust has settled on another Canadian Music Week. I’ve had an opportunity to take a step back and have a good think about the shows I’ve seen, so I’m ready for my recap.

Best show:
It’s a tie between Plants & Animals and the last 20 minutes that I saw of the Handsome Furs set. I’m going to go with the Handsome Furs because it was so intense and energetic.

Best show from a band you have never heard before:
Bahamas. He is a solid guitar player and singer. Of the Jason  Collett/Zeus/Bahams trifecta, it was the aesthetic of the Bahamas songs that I was most drawn too. In terms of musicianship, he seemed like a cut-above his band mates.

Worst show:
The angry music during the middle of the Constantines set at the Indie music awards had me high-tailing it out of the Royal York before they were finished.

Best CMW moment:
The Handsome Furs encore. Because encores are so rare at music festivals like CMW that have strict set times, and because it was so good.

Worst CMW moment:
There are two worst CMW moments. The first would be showing up early to see Joel Plaskett, only to wait in line for the better part of an hour in the cold windy rain. On top of that, they were running behind so the doors opened late.

The second is a vicarious moment. I met a young woman who was so discouraged about the Plants & Animals lineup that she decided to forego that show to make sure she got to see the Handsome Furs. She arrived at the El Mocambo early but accidentally went upstairs instead of downstairs. When she realized her mistake, they wouldn’t let her in downstairs. This was a shared culpability situation, but better handlers at the door could have easily avoided this problem.

Here were Paul’s moments at CMW

Best Show: Parlovr @ Sneaky Dee’s. It was 2 AM. They seemed totally drunk, off the cuff, and a little bit goofy, but still blew me away with their songs and their stage presence (which was actually probably due to the apparent drunkenness) and proved that they were more than just another band of Montreal hipsters.

Best show from a band you have never heard before: A tie between The Atlas Moth And P.O.S.

Worst show: Nothing totally sucked, but Homicide @ The Comfort Zone was a bit of a letdown. Mind you, I only caught like 1 or 2 songs.

Best CMW moment: Separado! That movie just made me feel good.

Worst CMW moment: The mandatory coatcheck at The Phoenix. I’m fine with keeping my coat on, thank you very much.

CMW Re-Cap: Fest Highlights

Posted on by guestwriter in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 6 Comments

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.

Concert Review: Our Lady Peace [Massey Hall, March 12, 2010]

Posted on by Wade in Canadian Music Week, Concerts, Everything | 10 Comments


Contributed by Danielle

Fuck you, Michael. Let me explain.

So I was going to write about how a waiter at The Three Brewers on Yonge Street managed to fling mayonnaise in my hair and didn’t bother to comp me anything for my troubles, but it turned out to be the least frustrating part of my evening. Imagine that.

A few months back, while I was off travelling, my significant other (hereafter referred to as my SigFig, ‘cause I’m mathy) wrote to tell me Our Lady Peace was doing a Massey Hall show where they were going to play Clumsy in its entirety. Now maybe it was because I was homesick and he was lonely or maybe it was because our musical tastes so rarely coincide, but this seemed like a great idea. Buy the tickets, I wrote back confidently; that sounds like fun.

After all, Clumsy is a little bit special. Released right before I graduated from high school, it was Canadian, it was weird enough to make burgeoning music snobs like myself and the SigFig interested but broad enough in its appeal that, even in rural Nova Scotia, all my friends would sing along when 4am came on the radio. Even after Our Lady Peace and I parted ways sometime before the release of Spiritual Machines, their first two albums hold a special place in my heart.

So we roll into Massey Hall on a soggy March night and take our seats. The crowd was a curious mix, mostly because there didn’t seem to be a lot of other people like us; most appeared to be much younger OLP fans, and much older folks we could only assume were parents of the tweens proudly sporting their new OLP toques. There was no opening act and the lads got started just a few minutes past the posted 8:00pm start time.

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CMW Review: Jeff Martin, Mar 13, Mod Club

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 3 Comments

Toronto – Former Tea Party front man Jeff Martin played the Mod Club last Saturday. It was an exciting set of music both new and old that had me cursing the super quick 30 minute sets at the Mod Club that night. It’s not entirely fair that I’m writing this review because I was such a huge Tea Party fan as a teenager. I’ve long since internalized their first two albums Splendor Solis, and The Edges of Twilight.

I was skeptical as to what exactly to expect from Jeff after so many years. Thankfully he still plays to his strengths: eastern-influenced rock played with open-tunings that resonate with a gutsy metallic heft. I can’t believe I just used the term “gutsy metallic heft”; I’m such a douchebag. Anyway, he opened with The Bazaar, and kept the crowd happy by later playing the crowd favourite Sister Awake. He also kept things fresh by playing some of his newer non-Tea Party material that fit well within the set.

He peppered Tea Party lyrics into his other songs as if he spontaneously felt like it.

What I forgot about Jeff Martin is how consummate a musician he his. He can seriously play the guitar, and he can seriously sing. I don’t know how much of his set was rehearsed, but it certainly felt like an off-the-cuff set from a musician extremely comfortable in his own skin. He peppered Tea Party lyrics into his other songs as if he spontaneously felt like it.

His last song was a particularly impressive blues number that borrowed lyrics from old blues greats. As exotic as his tastes are, Jeff reminded us that he’s still got roots in the blues and can fuse that with his other influences into a style all his own. Although we may tend to typecast him in a particular era and style; he’s definitely his own musician and worth approaching on his own merits.

CMW highlight.