As I age I notice my diminished hearing–and the sacrifice I make to my auditory system every time I go to shows. There are plenty of items I have brought to shows in the past which I didn’t need, like a jar of honey (don’t ask) or window wipers I had just stolen off a car. But I have never, ever once, thought to bring the most appropriate item: ear plugs.
According to Health Canada the average decibel level for live indoor music is 90 to 110 dBA. Listening to music at that level over time is enough to damage hearing permanently. Usually we don’t think about the effects on our auditory system. I am telling you because I want you to keep your hearing. But eventually hearing goes the way of sight, smell and every other important bodily functions — I am pretty certain of this. Well, at least my appetite hasn’t diminished!
When someone asks me about my favorite thing I discovered while at Canadian Music Week I’ll have to say “street meat”. Sure, the shows were great, but man, the snack vendors of Toronto are legendary. I guess there are several possible reasons why Montreal doesn’t have street meat: one is that the restaurant bloc of businesses probably prevented it, not wanting late night competition. Second, Montreal might be a little sketchier than Toronto when it comes to food–you might never know if that pogo is actually a rat on a stick! And last, Montreal’s awkward narrow sidewalks may not allow for the necessary space needed by a 3 am hot-dog vendor. Alas. We still have cheap pizza.
Okay time to get food off my mind. Let’s talk about music! Here are some of the shows I saw at Canadian Music Week …
Kurt Vile and the Violators@ the Great Hall
The Great Hall is one of the most impressive looking venues in Toronto. When you walk inside you feel like you are in some kind of living shrine for music. The sparkle from Kurt Vile’s guitar adds to an already poetic vaudevillian backdrop on stage. When I walk in Kurt Vile is playing a song off his latest record. The songs he plays from his new album Smoke Ring For My Halo are spectacular.
The music reverberates off the walls and travels far down the long hall of this temple of music. Vile stands with his band, arching his head down as he speaks. He hardly lifts his head, and when he does, it is only to sing towards the mike. Once in a while he talks, but does not banter. His manner of his character really reflects the trippy and low-fi quality of his music. It is humble but spiritual: I always thought that his music that makes you feel like you are taking one long celestial road trip into the desert.
By the end of the show the audience stays mostly quiet (hopefully due to being exalted by his awe-inspiring performance!).
The show went on without a hitch except for one technical misstep when they played In My Time. I had never been to The Great Hall, but the ambiance is very memorable. And the sound quality is spectacular. Kurt Vile’s performance is like an enriching spiritual experience. Definitely want to see him again at a live show again.
Cuff the Duke @ The horseshoe Tavern
Cuff the Duke’s audience reaction is legendary. If you like to dance, or hoe down, then I recommend hanging out with these people. Their fans, not only dance the night away, but are terrific screamers! Probably a good time to have ear plugs.
Many of the songs are from their most recent album Way Down Here; They also play a really awesome rendition of one of my favorite tracks Another Day In Purgatory. But the crowd went really crazy when they broke out into their anthem Take My Money and Run.
Queen street’s Horseshoe Tavern is the perfect venue for Cuff The Duke‘s style of dark country music. The derelict condition of the stage really set good ambiance for their performance.
My only complaint is the unclean state of bathrooms. Now I know this is a little off topic, but I think it is important: Bathrooms must be cleaned folks! After all, cleanliness is next to godliness (So says the scribble on a bathroom stall). Still, later on in the evening, it was impressive to hear a couple have sex in a bathroom stall that was drenched in urine. But that’s another story altogether!
Overall, I must laud Cuff The Duke on being one of the highlights of Canadian Music Week!
Gentlemen Husbands @ Horseshoe Tavern
What can you say when you are surrounded by women ready to throw their panties up on stage. Well, a little jealously goes a long way when listening to this very handsome band of young men. Gentlemen husbands have that pure rock sound that’s missing in a lot of rock bands these days. Most bands are all too willing to sacrifice their rock edge for a little experimentation. Check them out when you have the chance. If you like crude rock of the seventies then you will definitely enjoy this band’s raw power!
Photos by Chris Zacchia