On Monday night, the music industry gathered at the prestigious Carlu to award the coveted $50,000 reward that is also known as the Polaris Music Prize. It was a night unlike others, one where the music industry – artists, label people, a&r types, publicists, and media put aside all their petty bickering and differences to celebrate what really brought everyone here in the first place – good music.
This was my first time at the Polaris Gala so I wasn’t sure what to expect. What I got was an enjoyable time filled with music, friends and food. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the Polaris Prize Gala had plenty of free food in the form of pierogis, sliders and some sort of weird chicken thing that didn’t really work. I thought the pierogis had a bit too much dough, but beggars can’t be choosers, especially in the music industry. Just in case you thought you were some really fancy gala, a quick trip to the not-open bar was enough to hit you with the crippling reality that the Canadian music industry is probably just barely scraping by for the most part.
The show was broken up into a series of performances and some celebrity testimonies in between. It was a different format from previous years, but for me, it worked somewhat well. There was no awkward blogger giving speeches, but as with any televised/streaming events, the commercial breaks were enough of a distraction to break the flow of the night.
Still, one can’t complain about the performances. Here’s a quick recap of those too.
Black Mountain – Started the night off right with a mesmerizing performance amidst a black and red backdrop.
Jessy Lanza – The opening note to her set I’m pretty sure pierced my ears and made it right to my brain and I’m going to go deaf one year earlier because of her. Regardless of that, her set along with the video game/Japanesey inspired backdrop was a dose of energy. If I wasn’t sitting up on the balcony, I would have definitely considered dancing a bit.
Andy Shauf – I was probably on my second wine of the night after a few beers, so Andy Shauf’s mellow alt-folk type of music wasn’t really working for me. His nomination was supported by Jeff Tweedy, which kinda swayed my opinion from negative to just slightly negative.
Basia Bulat – Supported by the TSO, Basia played a nice pleasant set, but nice and pleasant doesn’t really get you the Polaris Prize.
White Lung – Probably the loudest set of the night, it was at this point I was wondering how many people here are going to lose their hearing in the next fifteen years.
Carly Rae Jepsen – Playing one of the best songs off her album, “Your Type,” Carly came, saw and conquered. It was a heartful, slower rendition then the version of the album which made it seem more powerful. Sadly, she only did one song because she’s a pop star. My 2nd favorite performance of the night, but Carly was my favorite artist of the night because they didn’t drink much and we raided her table after the show for all her booze and cheetos. The vultures descended.
US Girls – By far the best performance of the night. I came into the night not knowing too much about US Girls and left a fan. The first track was simple, with Meghan Remy singing whilst being supported by a group of girls but it was hella good. The rest of the band came out for the second song which turned out to be Yoko Ono’s Born in a Prison which was equally awesome.
Afterwards, they awarded the prize and it went to Kaytranada, which is cool. I would have preferred a reality show type format. Here is how this should work.
The show starts.
All the artists are there.
There is a curtain, in the background the stage is being set up for the band … but what band?
Some random CBC pseudo-celebrity comes out with an envelope.
They pull out a name.
That band did not win.
Now they have to perform.
And this repeats itself. Can you imagine how exciting that would be?
And then in the last two bands, they set up the stage with BOTH of the bands equipment. And then they announce the winner and then both acts have to play.
Anyways, I’m probably not a show producer for a reason.
Can’t wait til next year when A Tribe Called Red wins it.