A report from Canada Music Week in Toronto
by Ryan O’Connor
The East Coast Music Awards—Atlantic Canada’s yearly celebration of its music industry—is well known to Prince Edward Islanders. But what about Canadian Music Week? Billed as “Canada’s largest annual entertainment event dedicated to the expression and growth of the country's music, media, and entertainment industries,” it is the big one for the Canadian music industry, and is held annually in Toronto.
Being in the neighbourhood, I decided to take in CMW 2004, from March 3-6, to see what the hype I’ve been hearing is all about. As could be expected I saw my share of good, not so good, and even downright rotten bands. But there’s no need to focus on that. Instead, I’ll fill you in on some highlights.
Thursday and Friday proved fairly interesting. I saw great sets from Montreal’s psychedelic garage rockers Tricky Woo, as well as Dartmouth’s Matt Mays and El Torpedo. I was amazed by the amount of Islanders I ran into, especially on Friday, when I bumped into four-fifths of the Rude Mechanicals. The strangest event that night came when Todd MacLean and myself were heading outside of the Horseshoe Tavern after the El Torpedo set. Running into Mike Smith, who plays Bubbles on Trailer Park Boys, we stopped to chat. After discussing the upcoming season and a variety of sundry topics, Todd and I headed outside. Moments later we saw Smith and cast mates Jean Paul Tremblay [Julian] and Robb Wells [Ricky] jump into a humongous white limo parked on Queen Street West.
Saturday night trumped the previous nights. Once again attending the Horseshoe Tavern, I caught a performance by The Smugglers, a British Columbia-based rock outfit featuring CBC Radio personality Grant Lawrence. A long-time fan of the band, this was my first time seeing them in concert, having missed their only Charlottetown date ten years ago. This show proved extra special, as it was the launch of their latest CD, Mutiny In Stereo. The Smugglers were great, delivering a raucous mix of old and new material, even incorporating one of their patented dance contests into the works. And while this was great, the next band, Nardwuar the Human Serviette’s Evaporators, would rise even higher.
The Evaporators’ amusing punk songs, such as “[I’ve Got a Disease] I’m Addicted to Cheese” were alright, but their performance was incredible. Nardwuar’s crazy antics—like crowd surfing while playing his organ—got everyone going. The highlight came when his surprise guest, Canada’s metal legend Thor, took the stage. Singing two of his classics, “Keep the Dogs Away” and “Anger is My Middle Name,” Thor proceeded to amaze us all with his feats of strength—blowing a hot water bottle up to the size of a beach ball with his awesome lung power, and bending a thick piece of steel with his bare hands.
If you love music and are in the Toronto area next March, I highly recommend you take in the festivities of CMW.