CMW Review: B-17, Zoobombs, April 22, Silver Dollar

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Is is possible to feel nostalgia for something that hasn’t even gone away yet? If so, that would explain why I made the kind of dumb decision to stay out til late night/early morning on the last full night of CMW to take in the last few acts of the night. After all, only nostalgia for the days when a 4:00 am last call and bands playing almost all night long seemed more appealing than an early night in with a good book could explain why I’d be willing to stay out ’til all hours. That and the fact that the Silver Dollar will soon be no more than a memory.

Following sets earlier in the night from Japanese Breakfast, Liam Betson, and others, B-17 took to the stage for the 2:00 am slot. The Toronto psych rockers gave a shout out to Dan Burke for “making this shithole the best place in the city for the past 15 years,” adding that they’ve played “literally hundreds” of shows there over the years. The band ran through a raucous set of tunes from their latest album Goodbye before saying their own goodbye to the Silver Dollar. “Alright this is it. The moment that us as a band don’t play here anymore. You’re gonna feel foolish if you don’t dance.” said singer/bassist Clint Rogerson as he introduced the band’s last song, a fantastic version of The 13th Floor Elevators’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” A fitting farewell to the Dollar.

Following them for the last set of the night were Japan’s Zoobombs, the undisputed MVPs of Canadian Music Week. Having already played The Silver Dollar earlier in the week (as well as a couple of other CMW shows elsewhere), the band was back for one more show at their Toronto home. After wishing the crowd a good morning, Don Matsuo added, “This is why we love Toronto. 3 am! Such a crowd. Such a stupid crowd.” He’s got a point – it is a bit stupid to take in a rock show at three in the morning, but they absolutely made it worth our while, and if anything’s going to keep you awake at that time of night, it’s The Zoobombs.

CMW Review: Japanese Breakfast, April 20 & 22, Silver Dollar

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On the first night of their three night residency at the Silver Dollar, Japanese Breakfast put on a thoroughly entertaining show, playing various tracks from their latest, Psychopomp, along with a number of new songs from the band’s upcoming album, reportedly due out this summer and described by Michelle Zauner as a failed concept album. Of the new stuff, the best of the bunch was the closing number, a song about falling in love with a robot that featured a spoken word intro and autotune effects throughout. As sci-fi concepts go, it puts the band in the company of the likes of ELO or The Alan Parsons Project, which is a good thing in my books.

That first show was impresive enough that I ventured out a couple of days later for their final night at the Silver Dollar and while the setlist was similar, featuring favourites such as “In Heaven” and “Everybody Wants To Love You” (“This song is about oral sex. Pay attention.”) as well as the aforementioned robot love song, the band also ended their set with a version of The Cranberries’ “Dreams,” described by Zauner as “a cover for the old people.”

Earlier that night, Zauner gave a shoutout to opener Liam Betson, who she referred to as her favourite Toronto musician. “Drake is my second favourite,” she added, describing how she tries to imitate his swagger, specifically the way he calls audience members out with an “I see you.” While she claimed she wasn’t at that level yet since she gets too shy, Zauner is nevertheless an engaging, energetic frontwoman, commanding the crowds’ attention.

Though Zauner admitted that it was “a lot of pressure to play three shows in the same place,” it was clear that by the end of their three night run, the band had made a memorable impact. Mentioning how they had come through twice before as an opening act at the Horseshoe, she asked if anyone there that night had been to those shows. “Thank you for coming out again,” she said. “It’s our time to fucking shine.”

I couldn’t agree more.

CMW Review: The Wedding Present, April 19, Horseshoe Tavern

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“We are the semi-legendary Wedding Present.”

With that bit of tongue in cheek, self-deprecating stage banter, David Gedge introduced himself and his band to the crowd at the Horseshoe. Not that they really needed any introduction – this looked to be a crowd of longtime Wedding Present devotees who would probably argue with Gedge on the “semi-legendary” label.

After opening the set with the glockenspiel-ified “Unthinking,” the band played a typically rocking set highlighted by Gedge’s humorous stage banter. While they played a selection of tracks from throughout their career, the set focused largely on the band’s latest, Going Going …, which Gedge referred to as “our frankly groundbreaking new album.” “I’m sure you’ve all got a copy,” he added, but just in case we didn’t, he made sure to point us all in the direction of the merch table. He’s very thoughtful like that.

One of the highlights of the night was “Rachel,” a new track that Gedge described cheekily as the best pop song we would hear all year before amending that to the best we’d hear all decade. While that may be laying it on a bit thick, it is quite a catchy track. Give it a listen and judge for yourself:

CMW Review: Zoobombs, April 18, Silver Dollar

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The Silver Dollar will be closing at the end of this month, making this weeks round of CMW shows one of the last gasps of the storied Toronto venue. It’s a sad moment for Toronto’s music scene and fittingly, Zoobombs singer Don Matsuo was getting a bit emotional over the impending closure.

Addressing the crowd a few songs into their set, he praised the venue and it’s booker Dan Burke and explained how sad he was that the Silver Dollar is closing, Describing the venue as kind of like home, he added that the band hoped to find a new home in Toronto in the future. Rather than mourning the loss of the venue too much though, Zoobombs were there to make sure we enjoy it while it lasts. 

Sure, the loss of the Dollar is sad, but with a high energy show that had a certain manic element to it at times, Zoobombs were determined to make the night a celebration.