Tanya Tagaq at the Great Hall

Polaris Music Prize winner proves worthy of her crown

TANYA TAGAQ at the Great Hall, Thursday, November 6. Rating: NNNNN

If you had any remaining doubts about whether Tanya Tagaq deserved to win the Polaris Music Prize this year, witnessing her intensely visceral performance at the Great Hall on Thursday would have easily erased them. The career boost of winning the prestigious award contributed to moving the show from the smaller original venue, the Rivoli, which also allowed for the several dozen members of the Element Choir to join her onstage, making for an even more powerful experience.

Her intense connection with the crowd was immediately evident, even when she was just talking to the crowd. She got big cheers when she mentioned she’s considering moving to Toronto, as well as laughs when she talked about how much she loves her period. That easy confidence is nothing in comparison to the formidable power she summoned up once she started the rhythmic grunting and eerie overtones of her avant-garde recontextualizing of traditional Inuit throat-singing. She makes the sounds of vomiting, growling, orgasms, childbirth, mourning, joy, fury, defiance and ecstasy seem musical and inspirational. Tagaq easily captivated the audience’s attention with the sheer toe-curling, spine-tingling physicality of her spiritually intense performance.

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