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She Does The City Does Canadian Music Week 2013

In Concert Reviews, Music on March 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm
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Mac Demarco at Sneaky Dee’s
Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Here are our top picks from Canadian Music Week 2013, which included discovering new talent, finally seeing old favourites, and catching a glimpse of one notable Montreal artist’s nether regions.

Thursday: PS I Love You, Wildlife, The Darcys at The Great Hall 

The sickness gods decided that this would be a great week for me to have a cold, but what they didn’t know is that CMW trumps colds every time. So after nursing my stuffy nose with soup and tea, I made my way to The Great Hall to catch PS I Love You, Wildlife, and not-so-secret-guests The Darcys.

I’ve been a fan of Kingston noise rock duo PS I Love You for a while now but had yet to see them live until Thursday night. Needless to say, they made my first time a memorable one; performing at a level that made it so I could literally feel their music moving through my body. I will always be a sucker for guitar shredding and Saulnier did things to his that made my (and the rest of the crowd’s) jaw drop.

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Wildlife at The Great Hall
Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Toronto’s Wildlife have a very dedicated Toronto following and the venue filled up exponentially when they took the stage. I’d been dying to hear their song “Born To Ruin” live ever since it was released back in January and, as expected, it had the crowd fist pumping and singing along with the band.

Capping off the night were Toronto band The Darcys, who people quickly figured out were the special guests of the night. (Fun fact: while I was in Marfa, Texas this past September, a local told me that one of The Darcys’ dads had been in town the week before I was and he was really cool and convinced her to come visit Toronto.) I’ve always been impressed with the band’s stage presence and was a little bummed that their set was a short one. More Darcys! Always!

Friday: Kopecky Family Band at The Dakota Tavern

I’ve been waiting for Nashville’s Kopecky Family Band to play Toronto ever since I did a Q&A with them back in 2011 and it finally happened last Friday. The Dakota provided the perfect backdrop for the band’s feel-good folk music, which included several songs off of their new (very good) debut album Kids Raising Kids.

M for Montreal (M for Mac DeMarco!) at Sneaky Dee’s

Walking into Sneaky Dee’s for the M for Montreal showcase, I was greeted with the smell of poutine and sweat. Montreal, meet Sneaky Dees! Pre-Mac DeMarco highlights included the very danceable, synth-heavy We Are Wolves from Montreal, and Grounders—a Toronto band who make music that should be a part of your 2013 summer soundtrack. This was, of course, the calm before the beautiful storm that is Mac DeMarco.

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Mac DeMarco at Sneaky Dee’s
Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Upstairs was packed to the brim with people trying to catch a glimpse of the quirky 22-year-old Montreal-based artist who, in true Canadian form, was clad in denim on denim on denim. (In contrast, his bass player Pierce McGary was dressed very James Franco in Spring Breakers—cornrows and all.) It’s impossible not to bop along to DeMarco‘s brand of smooth, catchy rock ‘n’ roll, and songs like “Freaking Out The Neighborhood” and “Ode To Viceroy” had the crowd doing just that…plus moshing and crowd surfing. Even DeMarco got in on the crowd surfing, bringing his girlfriend Kiki along for a makeout sesh towards the end of his set. Things got even crazier when lit cigarettes began popping up throughout the crowd and DeMarco’s friend was escorted out of the venue after passing off several to DeMarco during his performance. Other notable moments include a cover of Weezer’s “The Sweater Song” and DeMarco giving us a glimpse of his, er, man parts. I have never been to a show like this before and probably never will again. #MACDEMARCO4LIFE.

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Grounders at Sneaky Dee’s
Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Saturday: Savages & Suuns at Lee’s Palace

No CMW is complete for me without checking out a show at Lee’s and Saturday was the perfect night to do so with London’s (England, that is) buzzworthy Savages and Montreal’s Suuns performing.

Savages‘ music is dark and wonderful, and lead singer Jehnny Beth’s live performance is so badass and intense that it’s kind of scary. (She’s the kind of woman I would never mess with.) The crowd was very much into their set, which made for an awesome show.

Like Savages, Suuns have also garnered plenty of buzz with their psychedelia-meets-experimental-meets-post-punk sound being compared to the likes of Clinic, My Bloody Valentine, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Their set was soothing and beautiful; a perfect end to a chaotic week.

* Published on March 25, 2013 at She Does the City

Wildlife’s Dean Povinsky talks to us about SXSW, pre-show rituals, and what it means to be a Southern Ontario kid

In Interview, Music on March 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm
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Photo credit: Wildlife

Wildlife are four friends from Ontario –  Dean Povinsky, Graham Plant, Dwayne Christie, and Derek Bosomworth –  that came together in the name of music back in 2006. Their sound is rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s the kind of rock that makes you feel something; evidence that the band puts everything they have into each song.

It’s been a busy month for Wildlife having released their new album …On The Heart and being a part of the SXSW music festival in Austin, and things don’t appear to be slowing down for the band any time soon. Currently in town for Canadian Music Week, I sat down with lead singer and guitarist Dean Povinsky at Bloorcourt coffee shop The Common to discuss all things Wildlife-related.

SDTC: You guys played SXSW very recently –  what was that experience like?
Dean:
It was lots of fun. We’d never been down before so it was our first time. It was hot… the shows went well, the people were really nice. It was really hectic; it’s crazy down there.

You also released your sophomore album earlier this month. How does this one differ from your debut in terms of approach and style?

We worked with different people making this record – the last one was sort of done ourselves with our friend Mike. We did a lot of [this record] in the States with Peter Katis and Gus Van Gogh and so we had more at our disposal in terms of sound. It’s sort of an extension of our last record; our last had a very loose concept, everything was supposed to follow a certain arch and this one’s sort of the same. It’s a progression of the themes we dealt with the last time.

What’s your experience with Canadian Music Week been like?

Any of those things where it’s just five or six bands and you go, don’t really soundcheck and you play and you get off – it’s all very cut and dry. It’s more fun to do your own thing but we’ve had some good opportunities doing it.

What five words best describe Wildlife?

Does it have to be five? My stock answer is always romantic and violent. A-combination-of-romantic-violence.

What is your earliest musical memory?

My mom playing the Fraggle Rock theme song on piano and me doing somersaults on the living room floor.

Who inspires you musically?

My parents do; they definitely inspired me when I was young to do stuff. I think a lot of the same people that a lot of people would say in terms of rock ‘n’ roll – Stars, Bruce Springsteen, and Joe Strummer. I’m a really big fan of Dan Beckner from Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs; I wanted to see his new band down at SXSW but didn’t get to. Robyn I like a lot.

How did Wildlife come to be?

I was in Glasgow doing music stuff in the first version of this band and my friend and I decided we weren’t going to stay; he was going to move to Halifax and I was moving to Toronto. I talked to my friend Graham on the phone and he was about to move in with Dwayne and I said “I’m coming home, I’ve got all this stuff I want to keep working on” and that was when we decided to do it. Then we found Derek, our bass player, on Craigslist and that’s kind of it.

What influence has growing up in Southern Ontario had on your music?

My experience growing up in Southern Ontario has been pretty positive and so being positive is a big influence on it. Not being afraid to be silly and be dumb is a thing that I think a lot of Ontario kids have. They have a lot of freedom.

How does the writing and composing process work with their being several members?

It started out differently than it is now. At the start, it was all of these songs that I had and a lot of things were set and dry, and we sort of just learned them and recorded them. Over time, it’s definitely grown into more of a group participation. Most of the time, I have a song idea and some main parts, and I bring it to the band and we start jamming on it. Then we all just sort of butt heads until it becomes the thing that it is.

Any pre-show rituals?

We’ve got uniforms that we always wear –  so it’s like the putting on your uniform, doing stretches, tying up each other’s armbands, doing a couple shots maybe. Doing a bastardized version of “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts” [from] Friday Night Lights, the show. We do some stupid version of it, it’s like, “clear eyes, full hearts, get loose” or something like that.

How has the band evolved and grown from the time you formed to now?

We started out doing things a certain way and then one day we decided that we were going to try and do everything democratically. That was a really good shift in the band because it sort of centralized everyone’s vested interest in the band. Also, always trying to be conscious of our levels of communication has avoided us having to go to therapy. Trying to be really open with each other; you can fight about things and learn that the other person doesn’t hate you, they’re just trying to express themselves. Stuff can get pent up over months and months and months and then get explosive so we try and deal with things as they come now.

What are your favourite spots in Toronto?

This spot’s good; I like The Common. There’s a taco place I went pretty recently that was amazing called Playa Cabana. I go to The Ossington a lot… I go there for trivia called Brass Facts that my friends do and I usually end up there at some point during the week.

What does the rest of 2013 hold for the band?

We just put our record out and we’re doing a lot of prepartion to get that moving; a lot behind-the-scenes things for the last couple of months. We’re going to be doing a tour across Canada in late-May, early-June and then that will sort of dictate the way the rest of the year goes. I’d like to go to Europe in the Fall so that’s a possibility for us.

(Check out Wildlife’s music video for “Born To Ruin” from their new album …On The Heart and their Facebook page for band stuff.)

* Published on March 21, 2013 at She Does the City

A word to the creeps

In Life Stories on March 13, 2013 at 6:17 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Nothing ruins a night out quite like a creep. You know the type: bad pick-up lines, unwelcome touching, general awkwardness/incoherence. We’ve all encountered them at some point and after experiencing three separate incidents involving them in the past week, I’m seriously dreading ever going out again for fear of being creeped on.

Some people are creeps by nature but I’m pretty sure that the majority I’ve encountered are just drunk guys behaving like creeps. Which is so much worse. I’m sure they’re fine upstanding young men under different circumstances but give them a few beers and a shot of whiskey and suddenly, you find yourself reciting the lines from a TLC song: “I don’t want your number (no); I don’t want to give you mine and (no); I don’t want to meet you nowhere (no); I don’t want none of your time (no).”

My first encounter of the week involved a guy complimenting my perfume and asking what scent it was. Innocent enough. I tell him and he asks me to smell his neck and tell him what cologne I think he’s wearing. I tell him that I don’t know and he says, “Me neither” with a wink. WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! Did he really think that I’d be dying to go home with him in hopes of finding out what cologne he uses? First of all, guys, please don’t ever use this line (if you can even call it that) on a girl. And if you’re going to compliment us, don’t then direct the compliment back to yourself. If we’re at all interested, we’ll let you know.

My second encounter involved a guy inviting me to follow him and his friend to another area of the bar to dance. Again, innocent enough, but I shook my head because a) I have a boyfriend and b) I was already having a great time dancing with my friends. About 10 minutes later, he walks up and starts pointing at me while whispering something in his friend’s ear. Not wanting to deal with whatever this was, I had my friend inform them that they should probably move along. The guy then asks me if that was my boyfriend and when I tell him, “No, but I do have a boyfriend,” he proceeds to make out with a girl within elbow distance in what I’m assuming was an attempt to make me jealous. The thing is, the girl he was making out with and aggressively pulling the hair of (?!) was very wasted and so I was very much concerned for her. Guys: if we tell you that we aren’t interested, respect that and move on. Like, literally move on to another area of the bar. Also, don’t take advantage of too-drunk girls. Just don’t.

My third encounter was probably with an actual creep, but there’s still some valuable lessons there. I received a call on Monday at 8 a.m. from a guy who had been given a number by a girl he met on the weekend. Turns out, the girl had given him a fake number that turned out to be mine (lucky me). The conversation should have been him asking for the girl, me telling him he had the wrong number, and him hanging up. Instead, the phone call lasted five minutes because he refused to believe that I wasn’t this girl. At one point, he even asked if I lived on a particular street because that’s where this girl told him she lived. Still, the weirdest part of this phone call was the fact that he was calling her at 8 a.m. on a Monday.

That evening, I receive a text from the same guy that says, “Hi.” I inform him right away that, again, he has the wrong number. He then tells me he wishes it was the “rite #” [sic] and when I don’t reply, apologizes and says goodbye. A few minutes later, he tells me that I “did sound pretty sweet on the phone” and then proceeds to ask me out for a drink. I tell him that I have a boyfriend and I’ll have to pass, to which he says, “Iwas just saying, yes or no. If it’s no we just going leave it like this I won’t text or call back ok” [sic]. Apparently, this guy thought it was fate that he was given my number as a fake by some girl who obviously wasn’t interested in him and refused to believe that I also wasn’t interested. So, yeah, don’t ever assume that you can sway a girl you don’t know into suddenly liking you and please don’t ever be this guy.

If you’re a fellow who likes to hit the town, please know that creeps are not bad boys and being a creep is not being suave. If you can’t drink and flirt properly, don’t. You will have a far better chance at picking up/getting a date with/dancing with a girl if you skip the cheesy pick up lines and keep your hands off until they’re welcomed. A guy playing hard to get is always sexier than a guy trying too hard and chances are, if you’re trying too hard, you’ve entered the creep zone.

* Published on March 7, 2013 at She Does the City

ZZ Ward sings the blues at the Mod Club

In Concert Reviews, Music on March 13, 2013 at 6:14 pm

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The best kind of shows are the ones that bring out all demographics. Case in point: ZZ Ward at the Mod Club last night. The 24-year-old singer-songwriter has been compared to everyone from Adele to Fiona Apple, so it’s no surprise that her music has wide appeal.

Currently on the road with Delta Rae, ZZ has sold out every show along her tour down to SXSW. If Thursday’s show at the Mod Club is any indication, you’ll be seeing and hearing her everywhere very soon.

Her setlist included the stunning acoustic offering “Save My Life,” “Charlie Ain’t Home” (her response to Etta James’ “Waiting For Charlie”), a very authentic cover of Son House’s “Grinnin’ in Your Face,” and her hit “Put the Gun Down,” to name a few. She revealed that several of her songs were written about a certain person who broke her heart, and I’m sure he’s kicking himself now.

ZZ’s hour-long set was not only a testament to her voice (it might have been one of the best vocal performances I’ve seen live) but also her stage presence, which commanded the attention of the entire venue. She engaged with the audience, rocked out with her band, and showed off her ability to play everything from guitar to keyboard to harmonica. She may hail from Oregon, but the girl does the blues justice.

* Published on March 4, 2013 at She Does the City.

Rising singer/songwriter ZZ Ward talks to us about performing on Conan, making the move to L.A., and getting a puppy

In Interview, Music, Q&A on March 1, 2013 at 8:30 pm
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Photo credit: ZZ Ward

From late night talk shows to mentions in Rolling Stone magazine, ZZ Ward is taking the music world by storm. And really, it’s no surprise—the girl is talented, has collaborated with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, and has a song that was remixed by Passion Pit. Her debut album Til the Casket Drops is a unique blend of blues, hip-hop, soul, and pop, and includes the hits “Put the Gun Down” and “Criminal.” Currently on tour with Delta Rae, we spoke to ZZ before her show at The Mod Club (which is tonight!).

SDTC: You performed on Conan recently. What was that experience like?
ZZ Ward: It was the second late night TV appearance that I’ve done, and I had a ton of fun on it. I wasn’t really expecting to go talk to Conan and Andy on the couch at the end and that was pretty exciting!

SDTC: What’s your earliest music-related memory?
ZZ Ward:
When I was a little kid, my dad would always try to get me and my cousins to sing for him. We actually have it on video. I think we were around five years old. My cousin would be too shy to sing but I was a total camera hog.

SDTC: Your album Til the Casket Drops has a unique blend of soul, blues, and hip-hop. Who do you draw inspiration from?
ZZ Ward:
I draw inspiration from a lot of old blues like Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, Howlin’ Wolf, and Tina Turner, and then hip-hop like Outkast, Nas, and Jay-Z.

SDTC: You’ve collaborated with Kendrick Lamar and Fitz of Fitz and the Tantrums—is there anyone else you’d love to work with?
ZZ Ward:
Yes. I would love to work with Salaam Remi, Azealia Banks, or Gary Clark Jr.!

SDTC: What was it like making the move from Roseburg, Oregon to L.A. to pursue a career in music?
ZZ Ward:
It was terrifying. I really didn’t know where to start—I just knew that I wanted to do music professionally. I felt really lost when I first came down; I didn’t know anyone or have any friends. I just started booking my own shows and going from there.

SDTC: What 5 musicians/bands are you really into right now?
ZZ Ward:
Lately I’ve been listening to Azealia Banks, Lianne La Havas, Gary Clark Jr., Frank Ocean, and Alt-J.

SDTC: What’s it been like touring with Delta Rae?
ZZ Ward:
It’s been really fun. They are all really great people and that’s always really important when you’re touring with someone. We have similar styles of music, so it’s kind of a party on the road every night. Every time fans come up to us afterwards they’re usually really into both bands.

SDTC: Besides touring, what else does 2013 hold for you?
ZZ Ward:
I’m getting a Border Terrier on March 17! I’m super excited and obsessed with my new puppy. I just keep looking at photos of Border Terriers. Her name is Muddy Waters and she’s going to be a road dog and be out with me on tour.

* Published on February 28, 2013 at She Does the City

I’m becoming my mother…and I’m embracing it

In Life Stories on March 1, 2013 at 8:21 pm
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Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

The mother-daughter relationship is a complicated one. Mothers represent our first encounter with womanhood, but also our first rejection of it. For years, I told myself that I was nothing like my mother, firm in my belief that the only similarities between us were our genetics. I’m not sure when it began (truth be told, it was probably always there), but I am becoming my mother. And for the first time in my life, I’m embracing it.

Growing up, I always considered myself more of a daddy’s girl. I was the only one of his kids who shared his love of sports and sense of humour, and I guess I had that whole first-born thing going for me. It’s not that I wasn’t close to my mom, though—I feel very blessed to have had the wonderful childhood I did, and to have parents that are still together after 27 years of marriage. I’ve looked up to my mom my whole life, but for a good chunk of that time, I was afraid to admit it.

For all the changing I did during my teenage years—in my mind, body, and every aspect of my personality—I spent just as much time, if not more, rejecting the one person closest to me who been through it all before. In the back of my mind, I knew my mom was the ultimate resource for my venture into womanhood, but my adolescent self was too stubborn to admit it. I shudder when I think of how I would knock over chairs and scream at her just because she was concerned for my well-being. Or how the day I got my period for the first time, she was so eager to explain menstruation to me, but I told her I already knew everything and subsequently locked myself in the bathroom while trying to figure out how a pad worked.

I remember spending hours looking through her high school yearbooks from the ’70s, trying to grasp the fact that my mom was once a 16-year-old girl. They were filled with notes from friends about skipping class, with the words “hunk” and “babe” written beside the class portraits of the boys she had crushes on. The funny thing was, she was exactly the kind of girl I was envious of in high school: pretty, popular, and always dating older guys. But maybe that’s why I pushed her away.

Today, our relationship is nothing like it was during those years (thank goodness). I am no longer a stubborn teenage girl, but a 25-year-old who has embraced her own womanhood and has a newfound respect for the person who brought her into this world. I enjoy sharing details of my life with my mom and actively seek her advice because, hey, the woman has 27 years on me and knows far more about the way things work in this world than I do. I understand why she wants her living space to be clean, and why nothing is worse than a sink filled with dirty dishes, and the importance of stocking up on groceries. We share interests and mannerisms, and sometimes I’ll get off the phone with her and think to myself, “We are so much alike.” Like mother, like daughter, right?

* Published on February 26, 2013 at She Does the City