Canadian Music Week

CMW Review: Joel Plaskett, Mar 13, Mod Club

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

Toronto – Ah Joel Plaskett. We here at the Panic Manual have a soft spot in our heart for Mr. Plaskett. So far we’ve covered three of his live shows (here, here, and here). I suppose that makes this number four. He played last Saturday night at the Mod Club, accompanied by fellow singer/songwriter Peter Elkas. It was rainy, it was windy, and yet still people lined up for the opportunity to hear just a tiny abbreviated set of Joel’s music. Now that’s dedication.

“Is there a reason you loves this town?” – crowd member
“There are many reasons I love this town. Damn.” – Joel Plaskett

What else can I say about this genuine east coast rocker? I suppose what’s just as impressive as Joel’s guitar and vocal skills is what he does to a crowd. His mix of talent, humble east-coast upbringing and down-to-earth attitude makes him an endearing personality and a crowd favourite. There’s just something about him that prods us fast-paced downtown urbanites to smile and let our shields down; for a second we resolve to be more civil to our fellow strangers in this wild concrete rat race. Granted, it’s a passing resolution at best. But thankfully Joel comes to town frequently enough to keep prodding us in the right direction.

Joel won the Indie music award for best solo artist of the year later that night at the Royal York hotel. It’s a well deserved award for standup Canadian artist.

CMW Review: P.O.S, March 14, Sneaky Dee’s

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

Toronto – You know how at fests like this, you often see a performer who stands out above the rest, who puts on a show that blows you away? (Either that or no one stands out and you’re left bitter and hating music … yeah, I’ve been there.)  Well this may have been that show.

P.O.S. is a rapper out of Minneapolis who blends rap with the attitude and aggression of punk rock.  I know, it sounds a bit dubious, but don’t worry we’re not talking Linkin Park or Gym Class Heroes here … this guy is actually good.  Part of the Doomtree collective, he’s currently signed to Rhymesayers, home to Atmosphere and MF Doom.  And he’s collaborated with Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn in the past, so that gives him all the cred in the world in my book.

The punk influence was evident in songs like Drumroll (We’re All Thirsty), where he spit out the refrain “We’re all thirsty!” with the same intensity that Ian Mackaye would a Fugazi lyric.  “If you know the words, sing them not only like you wrote them yourself but like it’s just you and your closest friends in the room” he said at the start of his set.  And the crowd responded in kind, shouting his words back at him throughout the night.  I had never heard of him before tonight, but much of the crowd certainly had, and many seemed to know every word.  P.O.S. seemed genuinely appreciative of the sizeable crowd and fed off their energy. 

The show also included a thumb wrestling interlude where he challenged audience members, references to Wade Boggs and Derek Jeter, and compliments to his DJ and to opener Astronautilis (“It’s 2010, it’s all about complimenting your guy friends.” he said) 

This was probably the most unexpected suprise of the entire week for me. (although honourable mention goes out to Israeli metal band Orphaned Land, who totally kicked ass while wearing robes onstage)  P.O.S. is a pretty engaging performer.

CMW Review: Handsome Furs, Mar 12, El Mocambo

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 4 Comments


Toronto – As we’ve mentioned before, at music festivals like CMW, it’s likely that you’ll only catch parts of certain sets. Especially if you are busy hopping from venue to venue. For the first time in 28 years, CMW was completely sold out this year. As the festival has grown, the fans have become more plentiful. Sold out shows have made venue-hopping increasingly difficult. Throughout the week I’ve ran into a number of frustrated fans who were unable to see the bands they wanted because of lineups and capacity crowds. Unfortunately it seems like CMW has become a victim of its own success, despite the cold and wet weather thrown our way.

But CMW is about discovering and enjoying Canadian talent, so let’s get to the music. It’s not entirely fair that I cover the Handsome Furs show last Friday at the El Mocambo because I only caught the last 20 minutes of it. Not surprisingly, it was a much hyped and very sold out show. However, it was such an amazing experience that it deserves mention. Montreal-based Handsome Furs consists of guitarist singer Dan Coeckner (from Wolf Parade) and his wife Alexei Perry. They play a supremely charged and intense electro indie rock that is insanely infectious.

Since it was the last night of the show, they got the opportunity to perform a festival rarity by playing an encore. It was the most intensely charged 20 minutes of music I heard at CMW this year; I will be jumping at the opportunity to see them live again.

CMW Review: Plants & Animals, Mar 12, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Mark in Canadian Music Week, Concerts | 2 Comments

Panic Manual (Plants & Animals Lee's Palace March 12 2010)

Toronto – Montreal-based Plants & Animals played an energetic show at Lee’s Palace last Friday to a packed audience. In 2008, they released Parc Avenue, a lush sounding album with plenty of orchestral padding. Their upcoming album La La Land is scheduled to release in April. The show consisted of a mix of both new and old material; giving their fans a taste of what’s to come, and also spinning out sing-along friendly hits like Faerie Dance and Bye Bye Bye.

What’s so interesting about seeing Plants & Animals live is just how different it is from the album experience.  Until seeing them live, I wasn’t aware that the band consisted of a mere three members. When you listen to Parc Avenue, you hear backup vocals, strings, and brass. It’s easy to assume that you’re dealing with a huge Arcade Fire sized outfit. But Plants & Animals is a brainchild that resides in the minds of two east-coasters and a French Canadian.

With just the three of them, the live show certainly doesn’t have that lush sound heard in the album. However, what they lack in padding they more than make up for in energy. These three musicians definitely have a special live synergy. The entire band was dripping with sweat within 20 minutes of their relatively short CMW set. One concert first for me was seeing lead singer Warren Spicer replace a broken string on his guitar in between songs. I guess he really liked playing that particular guitar.

I waited in line for the better part of an hour and made it into Lee’s with mere minutes to spare before Plants & Animals played their first chord. It was well worth the wait and this show is on my highlight reel for CMW this year. I’d be curious to see what they would sound like if you were to combine their raw live energy with their entourage of beautiful backing vocals and brass.