1 of 2
Rihanna (left); Leif Vollebekk
2 of 2
CANADIAN MUSIC FEST at various venues, Tuesday (March 19) to March 24. Most showcases $10, wristbands $60-$120. canadianmusicfest.com.
Canadian Music Fest attendees may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Is a six-day wristband ($60) going to get you into everything, or do you need to step it up to VIP ($120)? An ever-increasing number of ticketed shows by popular bands have a very (very) limited number of VIP wristband spots reserved. For instance, only 50 VIP pass-holders will be admitted to the sold-out Nick Cave show, so it's necessary to line up early.
Say you just want to see some up-and-comers and popular, but not stadium-sized bands. The $60 option gets you into CMF showcases, the comedy and film festival and various parties. Paying twice as much will also get you a T-shirt, priority access to gigs and select speakers and interviews. Lost or stolen wristbands won't be replaced, so make sure yours is securely attached to your arm.
Most shows are happening on the weekend, but there are some options for early birds. If you favour big-room spectacle over indie rock dives, Rihanna is joined by A$AP Rocky at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday (March 19). (They play Monday, too, but it's not part of the fest.) The next night, Marianas Trench headline the Canadian Radio Music Awards at the Kool Haus, Raekwon (see preview, page 52) plays Sound Academy, and Hollywood Undead bring a new generation of rap-rock to the Phoenix.
But it's at smaller venues where most of the action takes place.
Tuesday, stake a claim at the Silver Dollar, where Wilmott Redd kicks things off with eerie folk-rock and Spectre end the night on a psychedelic note. Or head to the Opera House for the Saw Doctors, who hold Ireland's record for the all-time best-selling single. Take that, U2.
On Wednesday, Merge Records' Mount Moriah and others play the Drake Underground. It's just a short haul along Queen West to catch the Outlaws & Gunslingers night at the 'Shoe, featuring Jim Cuddy, Belle Starr and other rootsy favourites. Then jog over to the Rivoli for Montreal's Leif Vollebekk. For a less organic vibe, Glaswegian synth pop trio Chvrches (see preview, page 52) and rising locals Diana are sure to pack the Virgin Mobile Mod Club.
But if gambling on a new band is too much of a risk, head east to the Danforth Music Hall where Stars and Yukon Blonde are a sure bet.