May 2 2015 – Canadian Music Week is Toronto’s best festival for rock and the event recently expanded from 5 days of music to 10 days. While that may seem like a good thing on the surface our main concern is that there is not enough good rock bands to fill out 10 days worth of venues needing filling and the quality of the bands may not be as good as in the past. Clearly for us it is quality over quantity.
The first night of Canadian Music Week had T-Mak World on Queen St. doing the stops at the 4 rock joins – The Horseshoe Tavern, The Hideout, The Bovine Sex Club and Cherry Cola’s. That jaunt is the usual spot because if one band is not to our liking there is another venue 3 minutes away. Here is what we saw
10 PM @ The Hideout – Hotel Royal
One of the hardest slots to fill is always early on opening night because the audiences are sparse and the expectations are high. Hotel Royal delivered a kick ass set that stood out as deep bass grooves littered with tasteful guitar riffs. We really enjoyed this set and are glad we got to check out Hotel Royal.
11 PM @ Bovine – Those Gulls
Those Gulls are from Ottawa and delivered a polished and very likable set that did not have the aggressiveness that most bands that play The Bovine seem to have. The chill grooves were highlighted by male/female vocalists and Kate Schroder seemed to radiate excitement. The band obviously has some punk influences but with a much more musical undertone. Speaking about punk music, we believe the programmers of CMW must have a great affinity for that style of music because there is a disproportionate number of bands playing this year that describe themselves as punk of some sort. But we digress, great set from Those Gulls!
11 PM @ The Horseshoe – Daniel Lanois
We expected The Horseshoe to be rammed for such a big name and sure enough it was almost at capacity. We were very curious to see what the Grammy award winning producer of the biggest names in rock such as Neil Young, Peter Gabriel and U2 was up to so we popped in. We couldn’t get photos as it was too packed but you can see the video below to get a sample of his ambient sound. The show was not a rock show by any means but a showcase of electronic ambience with machines. Very cool vibe and very nice to see some variety to our rock focused coverage!
12 AM @ Bovine – City Gates
The City Gates are a band from Montreal and the last thing I needed to see as my beloved Habs lost to a devastating double overtime playoff game earlier that night! Just joking guys. Their bio describes their sound as “a combination of melodic and ambiant elements, the result of mixing Indie Rock, Shoegaze, Post-Rock and Dream Pop.” I must admit I am a bit too much of a rock purist to have any idea what some of those genres are, but their showcase was very good. We were drawn to their excellent musicianship and emotional vocals. Would be really cool to catch a full set from these guys sometime in the future.
12 AM Cherry Cola’s – The Graffiti Crimes
Becca Chambers was the vocalist to this group that certainly had some punk influnces and they gave Cherry Cola’s a healthy dose of energy. Slick guitar to accompany the uptempo bass and drums foundation for what was apparently the band’s 3 show. Great stuff!
It was a relatively slow night for us as we usually catch 10-15 bands on a given night but since the festival is so long we decided to pace ourselves. As usual we give out the T-Mak World Gig Of The Night to the artist/band we saw that our editors enjoyed the most based on our personal musical tastes as well as the band’s sound and onstage presence and tonight we give that honor to Hotel Royal.
Bring on day 2 of CMW 2015!