Thursday, March 4
At the El Mo , only about 25 people witnessed Vancouver hiphop threat Josh Martinez prove he could sing as well as rap on an unexpected rip through the Chocolate Watchband's Ain't No Miracle Worker. Martinez made no mention of his recent beef with hometown hiphop celebs Swollen Members , using his brief time onstage to entertain the disappointingly small turnout with his blazing new material as if he were performing for a standing-room-only stadium crowd. A stellar Canuck talent ready for his close-up.
There was a painfully long lull between Nobel's set and Tangiers , but Josh Reichmann soothed the savage crowd with a gracious apology before launching into an airtight set with his revamped band - which doesn't sound all that different from the old version, although there's less of the latent Stones influence that Yuri Didrichsons used to bring to the table.
Headliners Metric eclipsed all their openers with a solid set of electro-pop-punk. Singer Emily Haines prowls the stage like she owns it, but she wouldn't be much if the band weren't so ridiculously tight.
Friday, March 5
Winnipeg alt-country sweeties Nathan played a set of charming ditties buoyed by the stellar pedal steel work of Dale Murray , who deserves CMW MVP honours for his work with Kate Maki and the Heavy Blinkers as well.
Martina Sorbara previewed a few tunes from her upcoming record, and from the sounds of it, she's taking a page from Norah Jones's soothing lounge book - complete with Fender Rhodesish keyboards.
Expecting Kate Mak i at 9:35 pm, we were shocked instead to see Lindy bouncing onstage like an oversized garden gnome. He showcased wistful singer/songwriter selections from his new record (slated for a spring release on the Orange label), but the highlight was a burst of white-boy beatboxing.
When Maki finally appeared, at around 10:15 pm, she made up for the wait with a killer set of crackling alt-country tunes. Two months of touring Canada - and the addition of a full band - have transformed Maki from the solid coffee house singer/songwriter we saw back in December to a consummate performer. Judging from the label buzz around the unsigned artist, we can expect huge things from her.
Then, showing their discriminating taste, they charged into a ferocious version of the overlooked Guess Who classic It's My Pride, and closed with BTO 's Taking Care Of Business to the beer-hoisting cheers of the appreciative throng.
Saturday, March 6
Fuck Billy Talent and Sum 41 - these are the Canuck punks who deserve bigtime success.
Although Nardwuar's stage-surfing antics were hilarious (at one point he rode his keyboard through the crowd), the poorly-kept-secret highlight was definitely BC metal god Thor , who stormed onstage in full cartoon-villain regalia and was forced to test his metal mettle.
Choice moments included Thor's inflation of a hot water bottle to a massive two-foot diameter (using the power of his metal god breath) and the always impressive bending of a huge steel bar. Hysterically funny.