Wednesday, March 1
There was something ironic about holding the so-called "Indie Awards" at the Docks , which oozes corporate branding from every black-lit orifice. True to form, the gala offered few surprises apart from the critic-voted Galaxie Rising Star prize going to local death country crew Elliott Brood .
Long after Elliott Brood's banjo-heavy set, we heard a rumour that journo fave Final Fantasy (aka Owen Pallett ) was the original intended Galaxie winner, but blew his chances when he declined to play the event. Hmm. CMW spokesperson Bessie Bullard firmly denied the claim, stating, "No winner of the Indie Awards is obligated to perform. I don't know how such a rumour could have been started, nor who started it, but obviously it is based on hearsay." Okay.
Thursday, March 2
Canadian Music Week usually gets up and running on Thursday. But there was a bigger lineup waiting to hear a DJ spin at Tonic than at most of the festival-affiliated clubs, which says a lot about who CMW isn't reaching.
The Danish showcase at the Drake boasted maybe 60 bored-looking people. That was twice the turnout for the Gin Club 's showcase at the Gladstone , where the weedy Aussie twangers stood onstage looking petrified. At least the Figurines , Copenhagen's answer to Built to Spill, got a positive response to their jangly new wave.
The Montreal-heavy Danagement/Peter Platinum showcase at the Boat was solid from start to finish, and while husky-voiced belter Katie Moore showed nice depth, the real sell was a full two hours of white-kid hiphop, courtesy of Giselle Numba One , Magnus and klezmatic kook Josh "SoCalled" Dolgin . Giselle's laid-back rhymes and shaky hooks had a loose energy that made the joint feel like a Concordia house party, but SoCalled's singalong set - half Yiddish folk loops, half rhymes about wanting to get with dudes - had every tushie in the house bumping.
Over at Lee's , Edmontonian six-piece Shout Out Out Out Out gave a lesson on how to throw a proper rock show. Frontman Nik karate-kicked his way through a highly danceable electro-rock set in between vocoder and bass duties. The energy was electric enough to have even CMW suits attempting body movement.
The crowd had thinned out by the time Holy Fuck hit the stage, and though the crew competently improvised their stew of bleeps and blips over a live drummer, instrumentalist Brian Borcherdt had a tougher time engaging with the audience.
Over at the Richmond Lounge , retro-rockin' Melbourne three-piece the Gear had similar troubles getting through to the club's regulars, who seemed annoyed that the usual program of MIA's Arular album was being interrupted by guys with guitars.
Meanwhile, at the Kathedral , dour Brisbane indie rockers Iron On claimed they were still in shock from their first encounter with snow. After thawing out under the stage lights, the co-ed crew - equal parts Sleater-Kinney and Superchunk - grew more energetic and reckless with each song.
Friday, March 3
Very few actual backpacks were in sight at the all-star Def Jux show at the Opera House , which was easier to get into than expected.
Cage raged alongside the amazingly screechy Camu Tao , while rapper/rap nerd Cadence Weapon threw his hands in the ay-yurr by the bar. At around 1:30, Aesop Rock hurricaned through his hits alongside the dreaded Mr. Lif . Camu Tao, Jux boss El-P and Lif all laid down some new shit, most of which the crowd was not feeling.
Super-hyped Cadence Weapon (whose mama calls him Rollie Pemberton ) was also seen spitting his own heady lyrics at the Silver Dollar Friday night. But judging from the snowy-white crowd of indie rockers on hand, Toronto headz were on their way to the Def Jux throwdown, which was too bad, cuz Pemberton's skills deserve respect. Backed by the speedy hands of Edmonton's three-time DMC champ Weez-Ill , he roared rhymes more like a hardcore punk singer than a potential crossover rapper.
At the Reverb , Luke Doucet twanged for a crowd more made up of regular Doucet fans than of average CMW crawlers. The urban cowboy guided a tight backing band through songs from his recent Broken disc, though his solo rendition of Springsteen's I'm On Fire had the estrogen-heavy audience clenching their hands over their hearts.
Saturday, March 4
In the Fairmont Royal York hotel's Canadian Room (weird venue), Cadence Weapon quickly got crunk during his unfairly early slot time amid The Beat, The Bounce and Flow talent search winners. Melanie Durrant had some problems with intonation but wowed the crowd nonetheless.
Hopefully, British metal maniacs Johnny Truant didn't cross the Atlantic just to play a thinly attended all-ages show Saturday night at Kathedral . Not that JT deserved more than they got. Toronto power trio Cougar Party blazed through a formidable set of riff rock while their drummer screamed sporadically from behind her kit.
Across the street at Healey's , you knew what to expect from Vancouver's Bella before they played a single note. All-white suits with matching candy red ties and belts equals pure pop. Bella's saccharine boy/girl bah-dah-dah was over-the-top sweet enough to cause stomach aches.
Later that night, the Boat hosted the release of the anticipated Bad Bands Revolution comp on Matt Collins 's and Katarina Gligorijevic-Collins 's Jennifer Lopez Knife label. Cacophonous, discordant riots incited by Robocopp and, way later, the all-inclusive Dollarama fuelled the concept-band debate incited by the manifesto-equipped comp so far.
Round midnight, down at Dan Burke 's NeXT showcase at the Comfort Zone , Horsey Craze (the Constantines doing Neil Young) blurted out Shakey's stuff to a stage-side crowd.
Cursed played a wrecking ball set at midnight at the Reverb , about the same time bouncers were fighting with crowds at the MSTRKRFT show at Lee's Palace . The Toronto/Hamilton four-piece couldn't confirm their rep as the loudest band in Canada due to CMW rental gear, but that didn't deter them from blowing minds with a face-melting wall of guitar and scream. Scary to think this band used to have a fifth member - dude, how much heavier can heavy get?