CMW Day/Night 4: Light Organ Records at The Supermarket, Music PEI at El Mocambo & More

Friday, March 22, 2013

Canadian Music Week 2013

Aidan Knight & the Friendly Friends – 1:30pm @ Church of the Holy Trinity

The weight of the week starting to take its hold on me, I rallied to make it downtown in time for Aidan Knight. The Church of the Holy Trinity was a spectacular venue for the Friendly Friends; as the sunshine attempted to cast its rays through the windows, the light shone on Knight. Especially with Julia Wakal on keys and trumpet, the intricate orchestral arrangements from the band added to his humble folk sound, fitting the vibe of the lovely church setting perfectly.

The band played much of Side A from their most recent LP Small Reveal, coming to a climax with the huge sounding “You Will See the Good in Everyone,” before Knight ended on a quieter note with a solo rendition of “Margaret Downe.” Always one for endearing banter, Knight mentioned that he woke up that morning in the city realizing he could do whatever he wanted. So he ate a burrito at a food court for breakfast. If that’s not enough to make you like him even more than you already did, I’m not sure what would.

Poor Young Things – 3pm @ instinct entertainment

Unsure of how to spend the rest of the afternoon, I got a last minute invite to attend an acoustic session by 3 of 5 members of Poor Young Things at the instinct entertainment office. The Toronto company places music in films and television shows such as Cracked, Beauty and the Beast and Degrassi and were hosting invite-only acoustic artist sessions throughout the festival.

Afternoon beers, getting to hear some of the new songs like “Revolver” and “Black Lightning” as well as the normally shouted “we fight the war on the weekend” chorus of “Let It Sleep,” stripped down and intimate, and making new friends in the industry made for a great time. Thanks again to instinct entertainment for having me!

Statue Park – 6pm @ Model Citizen (Audio Blood)

After a bit of a breather I headed to Model Citizen in Kensington Market for some of the in-store performances put on by Audio Blood. First up was Montreal four-piece Statue Park. Playing bright indie rock that was at times supplemented with electronica, their short set left me with the desire to see them again.

Miesha and the Spanks – 6:45pm @ Model Citizen (Audio Blood)

I always feel a little bit weird wearing earplugs at an in-store but once Calgary’s Miesha and the Spanks got going, I knew I was going to need them. The gritty duo dialled things up volume-wise with their punky garage rock. Heavy hitters like “Leather Jacket” positively reverberated throughout the small space.

Folly & The Hunter – 8pm @ The Supermarket (Light Organ Records & The Agency Group)

The first band of the night at The Supermarket was Montreal five-piece Folly & the Hunter. Having missed them opening for Half Moon Run a few weeks prior, they were a band I had been wanting to see for quite some time. Having already had a busy week, they were playing their third show of the festival. There wasn’t much to them performance-wise, with the focus largely on the music.

Touches of the xylophone and shakers often graced their songs, lending a soft and magical quality to their gorgeous indie folk rock. With a new album coming out, it was these new songs that really thrilled me. While there was a light airiness to “Whatever We Can Make,” the combination of the deep baritone feel to the keys with the tinkling xylophone beneath guitarist Nick Vallee’s choir-like vocals on last song “Tragic Care” was exceptionally haunting. Turns out, they were well worth the wait.

The band’s sophomore album Tragic Care was recently released via Outside Music.

Fine Times – 9pm @ The Supermarket (Light Organ Records & The Agency Group)

Technically just a pop rock duo, vocalist Matthew Moldowan and bassist Jeffrey Josiah Powell of Vancouver’s Fine Times were joined by a full band, including Devon Lougheed (Hey Ocean!, beekeeper, Sidney York, etc) on keys/synths.

One of my favourite records of 2012, their self-titled debut album carries a feline theme. When not pounding away on the tom drum, Moldowan adopted many exaggerated cat-like attributes throughout their set, beginning with clawing hand gestures during the sunny synth-filled “Lions.” If that weren’t enough, he climbed up onto the tables set up in front of the stage, and hung from the ceiling before leaping down, carrying the mic with him as he ran off trying to encourage everyone from the front room to come back and watch. Perhaps the only person capable of matching Moldowan’s energy level was Lougheed, enthusiastically cranking out beats on an extensive synth setup and then just dancing away during last song, single “Hey Judas.”

Showing the audience more than merely just a “fine” time, their set was honestly one of the most entertaining forty minutes of the entire festival for me. The band dashed off for The Indies at the Kool Haus immediately after where they were up for Emerging Artist of the Year.

White Ash Falls – 10pm @ The Supermarket (Light Organ Records & The Agency Group)

Vancouver’s White Ash Falls is the project of former Yukon Blonde bassist Andy Bishop, backed by a rotating cast of friends. Looking very much like a tough biker when he emerged on stage in his leather vest, Bishop instead proceeded to play some rocking dirty ashtray country, that often transcended into outdoorsy folk and even went so far as to have a honky tonk flavour at times. Few bands can get away with naming a song after themselves, but in this case the breezy harmonica-infused “White Ash Falls” actually ended up being one of the set highlights. What was perhaps most memorable however was the emotive quality to Bishop’s rough vocals; drawing the listener in, afterwards I was left with the immediate desire to pick up his album.

You can check out 2012’s By the River Bend on Bandcamp.

Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs – 11pm @ The Supermarket (Light Organ Records & The Agency Group)

Originally planning to head to the El Mocambo for the Music BC and Music PEI showcases, word of a basement fire and required evacuation of the venue kept me where I was. It worked out, however, as I was able to see Toronto’s Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs for the first time. A new EP in the works, the band entertained the audience with what could end up being the final tracklist from front to back. Playing upbeat rock with a folk twinge, I ended up being really enjoying Cash as a performer. With a swagger to his step and a knack for telling stories with his songs, he earns the compliment of reminding me of Jason Collett or Bahamas at times.

The band has multiple shows coming up in May, with full details on Facebook. You might want to check them out at least one of those nights!

The Matinée – 12am @ The Supermarket (Light Organ Records & The Agency Group)

Vancouver five-piece The Matinée brought with them their own own vintage mic, an extensive array of guitars, plus banjo and an electric upright. What they also brought was a crowd. The fire situation at the El Mocambo worked in BC band’s favour as many attendees at the Music BC showcase migrated over to The Supermarket for their set instead. After being relatively sparse in attendance for much of the night, the venue finally filled up, giving the band the audience they deserved.

A righteous boot-stomping party from the beginning of opener “L’Absinthe,” the band’s grizzled roots/alt-country rock made you feel like you had been picked up and dropped off the beaten path into a barn burner. Honey, we were not in the city anymore. With lyrics about a girl with “an empty heart of gold” who is “waiting for a better man,” the band incorporated a few lines of Neil Young’s “Old Man” into second song “Let Her Go” that seemed to fit right in. After a few more songs from We Swore We’d See The Sunrise, the first strains of single “Young and Lazy” were met with rowdy screams as the ladies in attendance begged frontman Matt Layzell to unbutton just one more button on his shirt. Raring to continue on, unfortunately the band’s would-be last song was quickly cut off as they had used up their allotted time. Disappointing for sure, it was obvious this crowd had the appetite to continue dancing the night away.

Tim Chaisson – 12:30am @ The El Mocambo (upstairs) (Music PEI)

Dashing over to the El Mocambo afterwards, everyone had been let back into the venue and the schedule was back on track. Tim Chaisson was just finishing up his set when I arrived. There is a pretty simplicity to his folk songs that is only heightened by the look in his eyes when he is on stage.

High on Poor Young Things just winning the Sirius XM Emerging Artist of the Year award at the Indies, the Bumstead family and friends had brought the celebration here, and all were in great spirits. Ending with a traditional East Coast fiddle song, Chaisson had much of the exuberant crowd dancing right along.

The Danks – 1:30am @ The El Mocambo (upstairs) (Music PEI)

Led by Brohan Moore (vocals, guitar) and featuring Alec O’Hanley, formerly of Two Hours Traffic on guitar/synths, spunky power-pop rockers The Danks closed out the showcase. Having lost track of the band since Are You Afraid of the Danks came out all the way back in 2009, it was good to see that they hadn’t lost any of their fun charisma or energy. The elevated poppiness of their sound was rejuvenating and a great way to end the night.

The four-piece have a new album Gank which came out in April via Hidden Pony Records. | CD

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Categories: Canadian Music Week 2013, Live Music


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