Josh, Mikey and Kohji (above) of the band, the only members who fit on stage at Free Times Cafe
The Maladies of Adam Stokes, an up-and-coming indie band from Toronto, played an intimate show at the Free Times Café as part of CMF on Saturday night. Though their set was later in the evening, the venue was packed full of eager fans. The venue was too small for the number of people who came out to catch their set, but also three of the six band members had to set up off-stage to perform. Despite the lack of space, MOAS captivated their audience from the first note to the last, playing songs mainly from their album City of Trees, the title track of which has a beautiful video and is posted on their website.
The band, made up of Mikey Hill (vocals and guitar), Emily Anderson (piano and violin), Kohji Nagata (guitars, trumpet, glockenspiel), Josh Awerbuck (lead guitar), Brett Harris (bass) and Ted Turner (drums) play folk/rock songs largely inspired by Mikey’s experiences as a pediatric resident. Themes of love and loss pervade the music which is wonderfully shaped by the creativity and skill of the other band members. The band has steadily been gaining momentum and are now regularly playing sold-out shows. They released their first full length album, City of Trees, in late 2012 and followed the release with an east coast tour. The Maladies of Adam Stokes are a delight to watch and you will surely hear more of them in the near future.
Recently I had the pleasure of catching Mo Kenney’s showcase at the Great Hall in Toronto. I had a moment to chat with the lovely young songstress after the show about what she’s been doing and what she has coming up.
1) You seem to have come a long way in a short time, having released your first album only a few months ago in September. How did you get here, and what was the road like leading up to the release (i.e. how long have you been playing, writing, performing)?
I have been writing for about 7 years and playing for people only about 4 or 5 years. I had a high school band when I was 17 and playing with them allowed me to get more comfortable singing and performing for people. I only began playing solo and touring 3 years ago.
2) What was it like working with JP and having him produce your album, and subsequently tour with him?
Working with Joel was great. I have been a fan of his music since I was a teenager, so having the chance to work with him was really incredible. I feel very fortunate that he’s taken me under his wing. I’ve learned a lot from him.
3) What have your experiences at CMW been like so far?
So far my experience at CMW have been great. It’s nice to be able to play these short little showcases for people. I’ve been meeting lots of new people as well, which is always nice.
4) Who are you excited to see this week at CMW?
I’m really excited to see Rachel Sermanni. I caught almost all of her sets at Folk Alliance a few weeks ago and she was amazing. I’m also excited to catch Willie Stratton, Molly Thomason, Dylan Guthro and Carleton Stone!
5) Are you planning any shows in the Montreal area in the future?
No plans to come back to Montreal currently, but I know I will be playing there again. I was there for the first time early in the new year. I had a great show at Casa Del Popolo.
6) What’s next for you? Future goals?
I’m touring out West with Ron Sexsmith for a 7 day tour right now. I will be heading to the UK for The Great Escape festival in May and then playing some dates in Scotland. I’m also doing a lot of festivals in the summer. I’m very happy to be busy! Hoping to do some more touring in Europe sometime in the future.
After two years covering Canadian Music Week, I’m tempted to say that Montrealers do it better. Either it’s the way they play music or the way they throw parties. Here are my thoughts on this year’s M for Montreal showcase at Canadian Music week.
The great thing about music festivals is that people are fighting to give you free stuff. As much as free booze is great, sometimes you have to make sure your belly is full if you want to survive a night of show hopping. That night, the kind folks from M for Montreal provided the Toronto coud with a little taste of Montreal. Free poutine for all the starving hipsters!
Misteur Valaire were opening the party and they did what they do best: they got the crowd pumped. These guys have brought their funky electro sound pretty much everywhere in Canada and Europe and it shows. From hugging it out with the crowd, to an impromptu group striptease, this five piece band is full of energy and they give all they have to the crowd. They’re spending the summer in studio and should deliver a new album this September.
Ponctuation was the band I was the most impressed with that night. I actually had discovered them the night before at Cherry Cola’s (a venue that suits them more then Sneaky Dee’s) but I was too exhausted to truly appreciate their performance so I promised myself to stay long enough to catch them on Friday. Guillaume and Maxime Chiasson are two brothers that play guitar and drums. Think Death from above 1979 gone psychedelic and garage. Their lyrics are in French but guitar distortion and raw power are the main focus. They just released their first album 27 Club on Bonsound so it’s only the beginning of their adventure. Watch for them in Montreal!
Two Hours Traffic knocked out a punchy set of tunes to promote their new album Foolish Blood on Thursday night. The energy of the audience was both audible and visible as the crowd sang and danced with fervour at a packed Lee’s Palace. Two Hours Traffic is a foursome made up of Liam Corcoran (lead vocals and guitar), Andrew MacDonald (guitar, back up vocals), Nathan Gill (bass) and Derek Ellis (drums). They didn’t let up throughout the course of their set, blasting out their indie power-pop songs including their new single “Magic,” a great sing-along number.
Their sound is reminiscent of a really good garage band, an aesthetic captured even on record that gives the band a unique angle which allows the music to retain a raw, emotional character. Two Hours Traffic sound similar to Boxer the Horse, at times Paper Lions, or Josh Ritter when he plays with a band. You can catch them Friday, March 22nd (tonight!) at Le Divan Orange in Montreal.
They’re probably best known for their hit song, Stuck For The Summer,
As I made my way into the packed Horseshoe tavern on Friday night, a giant smile was plastered across my face. Not only do some of my favorite people live here, but after reporting on the film fest portion of Canadian Music Week last year I’ve been eagerly looking forward to returning to Toronto to covering the main attraction: music! glorious music! While my FTB colleagues ran frantically around town like chickens with their heads cut off, I headed down to the Horseshoe Tavern to check out the Arts and Crafts CMW showcase. It was a mixed bag musically; but thankfully it’s impossible not to have a good time when you have good friends, beer, and your favorite dancing shoes.
The first act was Snowblink from California. The lead singer was a lovely, pleasant young woman but I felt her kind of music was better suited to a quiet evening in a coffee shop as oppose to a opening act at a rock club. Snowblink would be a perfect soundtrack to those rainy Sunday afternoons when you want to clean your apartment. But I have to admit that after spending 6 hours on a train to get here I was ready to rock out, so I was a little disappointed.
The next act, Gold and Youth, was more promising; as the boys did their sound check, the area in front of the stage began to grow significantly; people were definitely interested in seeing what they had to offer. And so we waited. And waited. I admit while being caught up in the frenzy I quickly lost interest the longer this band took to set up their set. When they did come on the boys did a perfectly good yet sadly perfectly generic set. My friend Alex described the band perfectly when he quipped “It’s like if Sam Roberts made dance music” It was by no means bad, but it was the same kind of rock songs you’ve heard a million times before.
After getting lost in conversation catching up with my Toronto International Film Festival co-workers for awhile, I decided that it the Arts and Crafts showcase had failed to win me over and it was time to move on. (I learned later on that evening that I should have stayed a little while longer because several people told me that Zeus gave a kick ass set).
I said goodbye to my TIFF friends and headed off to catch the latest performance from The Triple Gangers. I have no shame in declaring my undying love for this band and have to admit while I was sad afterwards to miss Zeus, you never regret going to a Triple Gangers show. The vibes were delightful in the tiny, sweaty venue (I would offer the name of the venue if it hadn’t been 2 am and many drinks in before I arrived) and immediately upon arrival I found myself shedding my layers and gleefully dancing along to the high energy beats. While it all may have started out kinda lackluster as soon as I saw Aurora, Ghislian and Ida (aka the Triple Gangers) start to paint each other with war paint during their set, I laughed aloud and declared the evening a roaring success.
So begins another crazy year at Canadian Music Week in Toronto and I have to wonder: Will the first night deteriorate into a booze filled nightmarish dream leading to liver damage and a splitting hangover? Or will the music prevail and carry this evening out to the elation of national pride?
The Dirty Nil @ The Cherry Cola Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret
The night began innocently enough at The Cherry Cola Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret. I decided when I started off on this Toronto musical journey that I wouldn’t get lost trying to find The Great Hall like last year. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed on my first night, and with the intention of settling in I decided that I would intentionally get lost, in the music. What bands would I see? and would they be any good? It could have been a disastrous evening, however luck was on my side as most of the bands had great, if not, triumphant stage performances.
Settling into Canadian Music Week, I went to the venue closest to to my hostel to see The Dirty Nil. The band was rocking high strung shinny nineties tunes. They made me feel dirty with their raw grungy guitar licks that kept the crowd bopping on this very warm March evening.
They’re a three piece that liked to scream and howl and belt out fuzzy distorted grunge, but with catchy songs that power through pop rhythms. It was one grungy experience in the very cool, red-themed Cherry Cola venue. Give a listen to their track Fucking Up Young. Grab your old Weezer T-shirt and mosh around your room.
Galaxie and Half Moon Run @ El Mocambo
Afterward, I went to El Mocambo on Spadina to check out the Belle Province Showcase. The event sponsored by Sirius and CBC radio 3 brought out a full contingent of bands from Quebec. The featured headliners were The Dears and Martha Wainwright, big names that pop up on local radio stations from time to time.
But there were two bands that really stood out:
Galaxie put on a very impressive show, starting off with some ambient noise before breaking into some wicked poppy riffs. This trippy Quebecois garage troupe brought on some new singers that really helped the band capture the audience.
The highlight of the Quebec show was Half Moon Run which knocked me in my corner beside the wall, where I usually like to hide and take notes. Their textured riffs along with impressive guitar playing kept the audience on their feet and moving around. Cerebral at times, rocking at others, this band created emotional states and moved the audience through them all. Listen to Full Circle, a great song from this up and coming band.
Teenage Kicks and Tim Chaisson and the Morning Fold @ The Hideout
One thing I noticed throughout the evening was the resurgence of nineties rock. It seemed that grunge and early nineties hard rock never died here in Toronto to the ecstasy of this music critic’s ear. Dirty Nil, brought the grunge but Teenage Kicks brought the hard rock sound of the nineties to a packed crowd at The Hideout.
The venue was packed tighter than a can of spam. The crowd got to see a rock star performance from a band that played the nineties riffs while the signer’s distinct singing style made the music come alive. Those boys just looked like they were having fun on stage and the pleasure of playing came out. Please feel free to rock out to Setting Son.
The last act of the evening was Tim Chaisson and the Morning Fold, hailing from PEI. They made me remember all my east coast friends. Tim’s gentle Maritime sound seemed to bring many east-coasters to the show and he’ll be playing at the East Coast Showcase. Checkout their tune Would You Go So Far.
Everything seemed to be going so well. The randomness was working. I was buzzing around from venue to venue. And I almost made it through the weekend without a “shit show”. That was until 3 a.m.
Let’s just say the end of the night deteriorated into a boozy concoction of madness and elation. I won’t get into the details but imagine the room-service scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas without the room-service.
Now that I’m recovering, expect to see more from me on Day 2.
This is Jerry signing off from Canadian Music Week.
Forget the Box takes you through what indie rock events are not to be missed at this years’s Canadian Music Week Festival in Toronto.
The Apache Relay
Hard to believe it’s already that time of year again, but in less than two months, another Canadian Music Week will be upon us! What is Canadian Music Week, you ask? It’s when, for five days, people from all over the world gather in Toronto for an orgy of high profile music and comedy stars, come discover the next under the radar indie band, or enjoy kick ass music inspired film at the CMW Film Fest (and just maybe if you’re lucky, sit down the aisle from Sammy Hagar).
We here at Forget the Box had an amazing, sleep deprived experience at the 2011 CMW. So in early January, when we began to sketch out ideas of what festivals and events we wanted to cover over 2012, going back to Toronto for another CMW was an obvious choice. Now without further ado, here’s a preview of some of the acts Forget the Box is excited to catch at this year’s festival:
Ben Caplan and the Occasional Smokers An Indie folk group from Halifax, lead singer Ben Caplan is not only a strong lyricist but has one of those great raspy Tom Waits-style voices that sucks you in immediately. Track to check out: Down to the River
The Balconies is a sibling indie rock band from Toronto, and I am ashamed to admit I’ve never seen them perform live. With CMW 2012 I aim to change that. Track to check out: Kill Count
Acres of Lions This pop rock band from Victoria, BC has been voted one of the top 20 bands in the province two years in a row by Music BC. Track to check out: December
Avalanche City is sweet lo fi pop music from New Zeland, and darn it if they don’t make some of the cutest music videos you’ve ever seen. I dare you not to fall in love with this band. Track to check out: Love, Love, Love
French Wives This band from Glasgow is the only group I saw when perusing the CMW website that didn’t have a long flowery description of themselves. In fact, they didn’t have any description at all. It’s a good reflection of the simple yet throughly enjoyable indie rock they produce. Track to check out: Covered in Grace
Lovely Killbots is a Grindcore group from Toronto, and they’re destined to become your new favorite band to dance drunkenly to. Track to check out: Hello my dear
The Apache Relay is a indie rock band from Nashville that toured with Mumford and Sons this past year. As I went through the long list of bands this week, I was giving them each a ten second chance to impress me with their songs. Yet when I reached this band, I realized I’d spent the past half hour searching through their song list. Track to check out: Home is not Places
Over the next six weeks, make sure you check back at Forget the Box to see more CMW previews of this year’s film fest and other interesting concerts and events happening during the festival. Check out the entire CMW 2012 schedule for yourself.