Adam and the Am

There are a few things that I learned about myself at Canadian Music Week: 1) I wish I was a Muppet 2) Spanish rockabilly is officially my new favourite kind of music. 3) Life would be way cooler if I could use a press pass to breeze through any tough situation or long line ups in life. Sigh…

The Triple Gangers set that had capped off my night on Friday evolved into a full blown 3am after-hours dance party. I kept dancing along to MGMT and Timberlake knowing full well I had another full day of CMW activities ahead of me anyways. As I’ve learned over several years of festival going, sleep is something you can worry about when its all said and done. When Saturday morning did finally rear its ugly head a coffee, egg McMuffin and hour of trashy reality TV got me ready to start my day.

Being a film geek at heart, I wanted to watch at least one movie at the film festival portion of CMW. The moment I perused the CMW film fest line-up I knew immediately which one it was going to be: A screening of the 1979 The Muppet Movie. While I loved the new muppet movie that came out last year and A Muppet Christmas Carol has become a holiday staple for me, until Saturday I had never seen this movie. I was thrilled to spend the afternoon indulging in childish delights and clearly I wasn’t alone; there wasn’t a single person under twenty in the entire audience. I also can’t believe that I’ve gone this long in life without ever having hearing the theme song to the movie, The Rainbow Connection. Simple, yet beautiful.

Speaking of the music from the movie, after the screening the audience was treated to a Q & A from one of the music composers Paul Williams. Williams is charming in that very Hollywood kinda way; worlds apart from the quiet and humble Q & A I saw last year with indie filmmaker Panos Cosmatos. Williams talked about what inspires Muppet stories and amused the audience with stories of how when the cameras weren’t rolling Frank Oz would make sure Miss Piggy would insult him with some of “the filthiest language you’ve ever heard”.

After stopping for dinner with some Toronto friends, I was ready to go listen to some music. Carefully planning out my route so that I could end the evening in Parkdale where I was crashing, I decided to work my way down Queen street. When I lived in Toronto this fall I had often walked past The Drake Hotel on my way home and thought to myself it would be fun to stop in and check out what all the hype was about. That combined with the fact that the Drake is where Pop Montreal was having their showcase cemented where I started out.

When I first arrived at The Drake, I wandered around the venue waiting for my fellow Forget the Box CMWers to join me. My honest first impression was that I was shocked that Pop Montreal would want to put on a showcase in such a yuppie kinda place. I admit it was more then a little satisfying to show my press pass and breeze past the long line up of club kids with their expensive high heels and suits, but this was not the kind of dirty hole reeking of beer and sweat (or as we joke here at FTB, “eau de partaye”) that I was used to seeing at indie rock shows.

But then FTB photographer Chris Zacchia arrived and showed me where we were headed, The Drake Underground was at the back of the venue down a winding staircase. Standing amongst dudes in converse sneakers and plaid shirts and girls with high buns and oversized glasses, I sighed and knew I was where I belonged.

Adam and the Amethysts

The show I caught was Adam and the Amethysts. A duo for the night (the website is vague on how many people are officially in the band) I didn’t realize until I caught the set that I’d actually known about this band for awhile; the song “Bumblebee” is on an old Pop Montreal CD I have from 2008. “Prophecy” and “Flickering Flashlight” are two other really great tracks I recommend you check out from them as well.

Unlike SnowBlink the night before, Adam and the Amethysts managed to make low-key folk rock chill yet completely engaging. The intimate lighting that accompanied the set may have made Zacchia’s job of capturing good photos a bitch, but I was absolutely caught up in the moment. Seeing the Pop Montreal showcase washed the lacklustre taste of the Arts and Crafts showcase the night before right out of my mouth. Could it be a matter of feeling more connected to my own kind? Who knows.

guadalupe Plata

While the boys then ran off to catch a bunch more shows, I wanted to go check out another full set before calling it a night. Making an effort to pick a show that wasn’t the same Parkdale/Plateau/Brooklyn indie bands I usually see, I thought the Sounds from Spain showcase (whose logo looks suspiciously like that of Pop Montreal’s) at the Gladstone hotel might be worth checking out. And what would you know the band that I saw, Guadalupe Plata, ended up being my favourite show of CMW 2012. Even without understanding Spanish it’s impossible not to love the fun rockabilly/blue punk sounds these guys produce. Go check out their bandcamp page and I dare you not to bob your head along to “Pollo Podrio” or “Boogie de la Muerte”.

Immediately after arriving at The Gladstone I was dancing the night away for the second time in a row; and thank goodness for that. If only we could end everyday dancing!

After the show I managed to chat with the band outside along with members of Bigott, another band that had played earlier that evening. While we couldn’t exactly conduct a full blown interview due to language issues, it was fun to chat up the boys. I could tell how excited they were to be in Toronto, and that they looked forward to doing the tourist thing for a few days before returning home.

Crazy to think that another CMW has come and gone. Hopefully next year I can find a way to make it out for the full five days, but then again who knows if my ear drums, liver and bank account could possibly handle it.

gold & youth

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.

 gold & youth
Gold & Youth at CMF 2012 - Photo by Chris Zacchia

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).

The Triple Gangers

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.

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Marysia Florczyk


The last night of Canadian Music Fest, after having gone to bed at 11am that morning, one can say I was not in the best of shape. So with almost no sleep it was any wonder I found myself dozing off to some folk music band. I had to go take an emergency disco nap to keep going. It was 10pm and none of my Forget The Box colleagues believed I’d wake up from that nap.

I gladly proved them wrong, when to everybody’s surprise that I showed up right on time at The Garrison to catch the Yardlets’ set. It was the first time I got to see this, now four-piece, band from Montreal. They play a very raw, in-your-face garage rock; the type of music that would fit well in a dive bar like Barfly or  but wasn’t as suited to the Toronto venue.

My only criticism was that they could use a bit more energy on the stage; if they’d been jumping all over the place they could have communicated with the crowd better. But they’re still a new band and they’re still learning how to interact with their screaming fans. The bassist, Marysia Florczyk is a recent addition to the group and we’ll see how she helps their sound evolve.

Recently they were joined by Sebastien Grainger formerly from Death from Above 1979 in studio, which will probably be help get them on the hyped band map.
Montreal people, you’ll be able to catch them live @Divan Orange on April 21st. They’ll be playing with Aunty Panty! and Man Legs (Calgary).

Yardlets Marysia Florczyk

Marysia Florczyk

Marysia Florczyk

Marysia Florczyk




Photos by Chris Zacchia
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It’s official! The Forget the box team is at CMW and there’s no way back. Personally, it’s my first year attending this event and the least I can say is that I wasn’t prepared for such an intense weekend.

The whole city is turned upside down. Bars are closing at 4am, people from everywhere are gathering together, every single venue in the city has at least four bands playing every night and, of course, everybody is on a beer diet. Here’s the report of my first Canadian Music Week night…

First of all, Toronto is a wide city. So wide, that you can easily walk for an hour to go from one venue to another. It can be tiring on your feet (especially if you have the “good” idea of wearing high heels) but it’s also an opportunity to walk by many venues and randomly discover your new favourite band.

While stepping out in search of food, we noticed a venue right in front of our hostel. We put the food search on hold and entered Cherry Cola. This tiny red bar decorated in a rococo style was the perfect way to start our adventures. The Dirty Nils were on stage and impressed us all (Jerry already wrote about them so go see his review if you want to know more about this grungy band).

We headed out to catch Chinatown at Lula Lounge. Unfortunately, it was a bad scene, as the Montreal band was the last one to play this big, empty venue. I’ve seen them before and the least I can say is that they had the worst conditions for their Toronto debut. For some strange reason they weren’t allowed to play with their own gear, the venue was way too big for a francophone band doing their first show in this city, and they were playing their new songs for the first time live. A show to forget, but they still a bright future, since their new drummer Maxime Hébert (formerly of the High Dials and Final Flash) will brings a great dynamic to the band.

After half an hour of walking and a couple of PBRs, we arrived at Wrongbar, a hip Toronto bar that I’ve wanted to check out for a while. We were right on time to catch the beginning of The Lava & Ash’s set. They’re a blues, surf, garage rock-infused band who describe their latest release as “Wynonna Ryder’s favorite album to just put on and weep, just 100 hard copies, up there with dance mix 94, hotter than a pepper sprout.” I strongly suggest you visit their Bandcamp , as you can grab their music for free. (Venue note: minus point for Jäggermeister’s half naked promo girls that were giving out caps and boxers…excuse me ladies, but all we want is free shots.)

Next stop was Parts and Labour, where Rituals and Little Girls were playing.  We got in a little early so we had to entertain ourselves. That’s pretty much where we lost control.

The venue was in the basement but the restaurant upstairs was hosting a Belvedere Vodka private party. I tried to sneak in, but the girls at the door, not seeing my name on their V.I.P list, wouldn’t let me past them. Little did I know that all I needed was a charming personality, but mostly a camera around my neck. That’s how our FTB photographer got us in.

With complimentary shooters and delicious mixed vodka drinks, we headed back downstairs to catch the end of Rituals who were good but the following band, Little Girls, really stole the show. What started as Josh McIntyre’s solo project rapidly became an underground post-punk sensation. The four piece band released an EP last fall and is currently working on their second LP.

That’s about it for our first day. Well, there’s more but it would be inappropriate to write about the end of the night, wouldn’t it? There are plenty of bands I’m looking forward to seeing today, but it’s mostly going to be a Nicolas Jaar kind of day. I’ll finish with these words of wisdom: when the Indian pizza guy tells you to taste the spicy sauce before putting it all over your slice, one must listen or end up crying.

* photos by Chris Zacchia

Dirty Nil at Cherry Cola

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?

Dirty Nil at Cherry Cola

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 Adam bunch CMW
Galaxie photo by Adam Bunch of The Little Red Umbrella

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 cmw

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.

Galaxie photo by Adam Bunch of The Little Red Umbrella

Other photos by Chris Zacchia

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