Monday, March 16, 2009

Canadian Music Binge

I am so CMW-ed out! Ten artists in three days (sixteen including those that were not a part of Canadian Music Fest) and fifteen hours of combined sleep. It was my first festival experience (don't even ask why I've never done CMW or NXNE before) and I'm happy to have made it alive.

I took this photo before I decided to me quasi-rude and start using flash, so I apologize for the blurriness. I'd heard of the $100 fame before, but it was my first time seeing the band, and Simone Fornow's voice is seriously something else. Listening to their myspace now, I have to say it was quite different in person, but in a good way. There's something rural about this band, rolled together with hardness. And I love steel guitars. It was such a good way to start the three days.

I should mention that I'd never seen the Horseshoe Tavern like this before. It's definitely one of my favourite venues, but it was packed, I felt like I was a croissant baking into golden perfection in the oven. Women, ironically made up of five dudes, was of a genre that I haven't yet familiarized myself with, so I reserve all judgement. I have a good gut feeling about them, though.

I love Reg Vermue! I think everyone in Toronto has a secret soft spot for Gentleman Reg that gets revealed once you see him perform. The sweet banter and constant good humour, backed by the danceable indie pop lines and his endearing voice, is enough to make him one of my favourite acts to see live (my fourth time and counting). Watch my video from the night of The Boyfriend Song.

CHAD VANGAALEN!!! If you remember this post I had named his 2008 album Soft Airplane as my favourite of the year. That opinion hasn't changed much, and seeing him live only encouraged my sentiment. I have this belief that the reverb/delay pedal was pretty much invented for his voice (I'm not a master of pedals, so don't quote me on what that pedal's called). He opened with Willow Tree (click for my video. A rhetorical question to the MFers who are talking through the first twenty-five seconds of the song about being rude: Irony?). When I listen to him I feel like I'm listening to every sound on the planet. Not sure where that feeling comes from, but it sure is amazing. I just learned yesterday that I'll have missed him by 2 days when I get to France in 12 weeks (!) and had a mini-heartbreak.

If there is one band in Toronto that I feel like I'm watching grow, it's Hooded Fang. My friend Sharmin (who has been my common-law wife for the CMW period, and has very good reviews on her blog as well) and I speculate that their name probably comes from Jacob Two-Two, just as I imagine these magical boys and girls of the indie-pop band would. They are exactly what to call indie-pop, and I love it. I saw one of their very first shows, and now they are polished--nothing complex, nothing too serious, just the things that they do so well, catchy lines and fun harmonies. Watch for yourself here.

These guys from Iceland gave us some good options for leaving the venue safely and arriving sound in our homes: Learn to say their band name, or buy an EP. I learned to say their Icelandic name from Snorri Helgason, the lead singer himself, how to say their name, and safely left the place (I thank him for his humble kindness that remained even after he found out that I wasn't playing the following band). They call themselves "Icelandic indie pop for the masses", and that's pretty much bang-on. It was hard not to pick up their energy and throw it around the room myself.

As a lover of indie music, I want to have nothing bad to say about indie bands. Unfortunately, I have nothing good to say about these guys. There is a fine line between showmanship and self-indulgence, and that line was crossed every which way.

Black Hat Brigade, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Definitely one of my favourites from the festival. I have a lot to thank them for, seeing as they are the band that prompted me to go out, look for and support indie music, back sometime now. They are so solid from any angle, carry the best energy and know how to hook you. Their new EP is coming out in May, titled "Fathers", look out for it.

They've already featured this video on their myspace, but they're so damn good I'm going to embed it right in here.

I'm dedicating this to Bryan, who fills up my Facebook inbox to keep the fans up-to-date.

I actually only caught one song by Herman Dune (his myspace sounds great), but this picture pretty much sums up the crowd at any CMW Showcase. Thanks for showing up.

I'm in love with this girl. She is as adorable as one can be, but with one of the biggest voices in Canadian music today. She's got those love songs and prayer songs, ukuleles and autoharps, and with the lacquer of violas and drums it's just got a permanent place in my heart. Watch Before I Knew here.

There, I'm done. Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

So did you figure out the B&W button after all, or is this the work of photoshop? :P

Those 3 days were such a blast! I'm with you anytime you'd like to do it again.

And I'll see pretty much everyone here again whenever they're in town next.

esther said...

Yes I did, it's under program shooting. We'll do so many shows in May before I leave, better believe it.

TM said...

I literally want to explode with envy. That sounds like one of the best weekends ever. And to top it all off with BASIA?! You lucky thing, you.

But true story about how in a couple weeks I'm going to see Hey Rosetta! Dan Mangan, Said the Whale, The Dudes, Matthew Barber, and Jill Barber a week after that. Musicsplosion!

TM said...

Also...I totally just realized that I've been following your YouTube channel for ages. Serendipity FTW!

esther said...

ARE YOU DOING JUNOFEST? Not fair. My parents will have moved to Vancouver by then, I should pay them a visit in the early stages of their West Coast Life... ha ha ha

And hi, small world.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this! Hooded Fang is awesome!