Rounding Up: Canadian Music Week 2011

Canadian Music Week: A 5-day festivus encompassing various music industry-based events and conferences around Toronto, including Canadian Music Fest — A showcase of  800 local and international artists, across 55 venues within the city.

With most bars licensed until 4AM for the enjoyment of us crazy vamps, the past 5 days have included multiple all-nighters, bass-induced heart palpitations, and temporary loss of hearing. All worth it. The madness kicked off on Wednesday, and my musical inclinations lead me to assorted destinations around town. Here is a lowdown of where my eargasm-seeking self prowled to check out some familiar and unfamiliar goodness; It’s the best of the best.

DAY 1: Wednesday, March 9th

Courage My Love @ The El Mocambo

17 year-old twins Mercedes Arn-Horn (guitar, lead vocals) and Phoenix Arn-Horn (drums, vocals), along with David Blake-Dickson on bass make up Kitchener trio Courage My Love. Their confidently charismatic presence is just icing on top of extremely catchy tunes and relatable teenagehood lyrics. There are few artists who can shine on stage without the comfort of studio tuning, and CML are a part of that rare exception. They may even exceed themselves live. You can currently catch their debut single and video Bridges being played all over MuchMusic. You will be humming it all week. But do not be deceived by the pop-rock image; these girls have a definitive metal-esque edge and slay their instruments like no tween starlet tartlet ever could. Big things… Just saying.

Check them out in action below.

(Video by Julia Stacey)

Next stop, an evening of bands at everyone’s favourite bar, formally known as Cherry Cola’s Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret and Lounge. I caught sets from Monday Rose (Toronto), WOLFHEART (Victoria), and The Lines (UK). A visit to this radiantly cozy establishment is highly encouraged, if only for the elegant Victorian-chic ambience and sexy staff. (But you’re guaranteed good music, live or otherwise, any given day.)

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DAY 2: Thursday, March 10th

Back To Cherry Cola’s. The night’s line up included Preachers Son (Dublin), Venice Queen (Vancouver), and In My Coma (Toronto). CC the Cherry Cola’s bar cat judged each accordingly.

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DAY 3: Friday, March 11th

Good Charlotte @ The Phoenix Concert Theatre

Armed with a feeling of nostalgia, I missioned East to check out Good Charlotte. Having not listened to their music since 8th grade, the punk-rock set brought back musical memories of mild angst and a subconscious remembrance of early-2000’s GC lyrics. The set was a throwback to their old tracks, performing an assortment of their greatest radio hit singles. The sweaty crowd of all ages karaoke’d along to every single song, obviously studied up on their albums and scenester stylings. If anyone is missing an empty black-patent coin purse with a double-sided silver skull print, I am this gem’s proud new owner.

Below, the Good Charlotte fan base, circa 2011.

Next stop… Cherry Cola’s. The 3AM time-slot brought back the bar’s favourite underagers Courage My Love for another fabulous and intimate set.

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DAY 4: Saturday, March 12th

Spitfist @ Sonic Boom

This blurry photo of 4-piece girl band Spitfist is pretty much an accurate summary of their vibe and sound. With a beer permanently in-hand, lead vox Stacey McCool passionately and melodically screams into the mic about starving baby birds (probably metaphoric) and “Bring A Gun To Work Day”. Life lessons 101: “Don’t put your mouth where it shouldn’t be. Don’t put your dick where it shouldn’t be… Don’t put your dick inside of me.” La la la!

and Die Mannequin @ The Horseshoe Tavern

Canadian band Jakalope date back to 2003 when they first formed with original vocals by Katie B, having since evolved and now feature lead by Chrystal Leigh. Founded by producer Dave Ogilvie (who has worked with David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, and Marilyn Manson), their sound can be described as electro-pop, with an edge of rock-ness and subtly gothic image. Aside from announcing their love for Care Failure, Jakalope’s set was very much equally lust-worthy and worth checking out.

There are only so many adjectives for amazing that can be used to describe Die Mannequin. If you’re looking for a truly solid rock band to spice up your shit (and you most definitely are this day in age), go see DM live. With their set timing in at around an hour, they tossed in a stellar cover of Michael Jackson’s Beat It to a rewardingly warm reception. Having the power to sell-out venues like The Sound Academy, The Horseshoes small dance floor provided an intimate setting for happily sweaty moshing kids. Up for a Juno nomination this month for New Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year, this recognition is well-deserved and a long time coming. Care Failure’s powerful and delightfully raw vocals on top of poetic lyrics are often a soundtrack to my life. A perfect end to CMW’s busiest night.

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DAY 5: Sunday, March 13th

A final-night outing proved exhaustively overwhelming and outdone by what the normally functioning may call “rest”. But was is rest, really?

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With a work-week’s worth of music, old and new, CMW/CMF 2011 proved to be an overall success.

See you March 2012!

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