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Bonnaroo 2013 Highlights

In Concert Reviews, Music on June 26, 2013 at 7:05 am

Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

Went to Bonnaroo and loved it. Here are some highlights.

  • Major props to the Wal-Mart in Manchester for making our pre-Bonnaroo shopping trip quick, easy, and fun. Being first-timers, we had heard that stopping here beforehand was a rite of passage—and it most definitely is. Upon entering, we were greeted by a giant “Welcome to Bonnaroo” banner and friendly staff decked out in tie-dye. Everything we needed—beer, snacks, baby wipes, bug spray, tie-dye shirts—was easily accessible and well-stocked, which made navigating the store a breeze.
  • The ladies of HAIM and Deap Vally are worth the hype. Both put on great shows.
  • I don’t think I stopped smiling during Father John Misty’s set.
  • Passion Pit’s Friday afternoon set was one big dance party under the sweltering Tennessee sun.
  • Wu-Tang Clan proved they Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit and their ASL interpreter was incredible.
  • I can now say that I’ve seen a Beatle live. Paul McCartney’s three-hour performance included songs from the Beatles and Wings era plus his own solo material and stories about Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and John Lennon. There were two encores, fireworks, and 80,000 people singing along to “Hey Jude” so yes, it was epic.
  • I tried alligator for the first time and it was delicious!
  • When it’s so hot that you can barely move, you need beautiful music to lounge to. Local Natives and Solange were just that.
  • We met a guy from Alabama and he asked us to explain Canadian money and healthcare to him.
  • On Saturday night, I had to decide between R. Kelly and Billy Idol and that is just not fair. Ultimately, I went with Billy because seeing an ’80s icon perform on a farm in Tennessee was a once in a lifetime kind of thing. His costume changes included a leather jacket, a leather vest, a dress shirt, a suit jacket worn open, and no shirt at all.
  • Mac DeMarco’s show at Canadian Music Week in March was one of the craziest I’ve ever been to, so I knew seeing him perform at Bonnaroo was a must. His Sunday afternoon show was far more tame, but it wasn’t any less fun—it’s impossible not to have fun at a Mac DeMarco show.
  • Tame Impala probably should have performed on the main stage because their Sunday evening set was overflowing from The Other Tent. I had a prime spot near the front which meant that I was able to experience the band in all their psychedelic glory and high-five crowd surfers after they floated across the audience.
  • “It smells really good at Bonnaroo. I swear it smells like pot,” Tom Petty said during his closing set on Sunday night. Naturally, smoke filled the air during “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd


Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd


Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd


Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd


Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd


Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd


Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

* Published on June 24, 2013 at She Does the City


The Killers take us back in time at the ACC

In Concert Reviews, Music on May 16, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

There are certain bands that came along at a very influential time in your life (your teenage years, most likely) that will forever hold a special place in your heart. The Killers are one of those bands for me.

I was 17-years-old when Hot Fuss came out and it changed everything for me. Up until that point, I was either listening to classic rock that my dad had introduced me to (the good) or emo (the bad). Then the Killers and their cohorts came along in a sort of indie revolution and I had all this new music to call my own. I can still remember driving with friends to the mall to buy Hot Fuss on CD and then blasting “All These Things That I’ve Done” as we drove home.

On Wednesday, the Killers played the Air Canada Centre in what was both a nod to their new album, Battle Born, and the songs that got them there – which meant that I got to relive 2004 in all its glory. The band opened the show (which had been rescheduled from a December date due to Brandon Flowers’ laryngitis) with “Mr. Brightside” and the house lights still on, bringing every person in the ACC to their feet. (Which meant it was nothing like their performance on The O.C. Remember this?) The rest of their hour-and-a-half show was played with the lights down (save for a few fireworks) and included songs from across all four of their albums plus covers of “Shadowplay” by Joy Division (one of the best I’ve heard), “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James & the Shondells, and “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” by Bruce Cockburn.

The crowd favourites were the ones you would expect – “Smile Like You Mean It”, “Somebody Told Me”, “All These Things That I’ve Done”, and the encore of “When You Were Young” – but people were on their feet and singing along for every song. The band was obviously enjoying themselves and does arena rock well; Flowers as the charismatic frontman working the crowd while the rest of the band rocks out. Lines that resonated with me some eight years ago (“I got soul, but I’m not a soldier”) still do and when they’re accompanied by falling glitter, well, it’s a good night.

* Published on May 16, 2013 at She Does the City

We talk to Lovelife’s Lee Newell before the UK/NYC band plays Toronto

In Interview, Music on May 10, 2013 at 10:25 am


“Essentially, we’re a pop band. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be a dirty word,” Lee Newell says through the phone from a parking lot somewhere in Boston. He is talking, of course, about his band Lovelife, who are currently touring across North America with Capital Cities and Gold Fields before joining The Neighbourhood.

Hailing from London, England, Newell and bandmate Ally Young (previously of Mirrors) moved to New York City last year to carve out a name for themselves. With their current tour in full swing and a recent appearance at SXSW, Lovelife is doing exactly that.

“We saved up what we had; the scraps from the sofa,” Newell says of the relocation. “It turned out to be the best thing we could have done.”

Lovelife chose NYC because of its vastness, but amidst the much-needed isolation, they also found new friends and a music scene much bigger than the one back home in the UK. “Everything is bigger in America,” Newell laughs. “The quality of the smaller up-and-coming bands is a lot better.”

Before forming Lovelife, Newell was a part of a somewhat up-and-coming band himself: Viva Brother, who received plenty of press both before and after their split in 2012. “It’s a natural thing; you shed your skin every so often,” he says of his evolution since then. Current bandmate Young was the catalyst for that evolution, for which he’s very grateful.

While Viva Brother was pure indie rock, Lovelife isn’t as easily defined. Synth-pop is what their music is commonly referred to as, but there’s certainly some R&B in there, too. Their lyrics often centre around failed relationships and a lack of love life—not unlike The Smiths who, along with ’90s pop music, Newell lists as influences. (He credits the latter—both “the really good songs and the horrible, horrible shit”—to growing up with Top 40-loving parents.) As for their musical process, Newell says that it varies song-to-song. The popular “Your New Beloved”, for example, was written in their Brooklyn apartment (while Hurricane Sandy was raging outside, no less) as a sort-of afternoon throwaway song.

Lovelife will be releasing their new EP Stateless next month which, as they’ve done with their previous EPs, is named after the place it was written – in this case, across several different states and continents over the past four months. (Their previous EP 4th Floor was written in their fourth floor apartment while El Regreso’s origin is in Brooklyn.)

“A platinum-selling, number one,” Newell jokes when I ask him what we can expect from the new EP. But with hype building and his band’s first full-length album on the horizon, he might not be far off.

Lovelife play the Virgin Mobile Mod Club next Monday, May 13 ($16 tickets are still available both online and at the door).

* Published on May 10, 2013 at She Does the City

She Does The City Does Canadian Music Week 2013

In Concert Reviews, Music on March 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm

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.


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.


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.


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

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?
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

ZZ Ward sings the blues at the Mod Club

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


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

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

Matt & Kim and Passion Pit at the Koolhaus

In Concert Reviews, Music on February 20, 2013 at 11:08 am

Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

On the surface, Passion Pit’s latest album, Gossamer, is an offering of catchy synthpop songs. Beyond that, though, it represents frontman Michael Angelakos’s ongoing struggle with bipolar disorder—evident through lyrics laden with sadness, guilt, and confusion. Though Angelakos’s disorder has resulted in multiple hospital visits, attempted suicide, and cancelled shows, it has not brought down the band. The proof is in last Saturday’s (Feb. 16) show at Toronto’s Koolhaus, which felt like one big love-in.

Opening up for Passion Pit was Matt & Kim, who had the crowd pumped up from the moment they walked on stage. Between their energetic electropop songs, Kim’s booty-popping, and Matt dedicating a song to Timbits, the Brooklyn duo kept the crowd dancing and laughing throughout their 45-minute set. There was also the moment of Matt introducing Kim as his “partner in crime and partner in sex” to which Kim responded, “yeeeah, we hit that last night, didn’t we?!”

The couple’s setlist included popular songs “Let’s Go,” “Lessons Learned,” and “Daylight” among others spanning across their four albums. My personal favourite was their unexpected cover of the 1999 hit “Sandstorm” by Darude, which can only be described as epic. (To put the audience’s age in perspective, only a handful of people appeared to recognize this song, which broke my heart a little. No, a lot.)

Passion Pit kept the energy high for their set, which saw the Boston fivesome perform songs from both Gossamer and their debut album, Manners. The memorable moment of the night came when Angelakos paralleled the audience’s willingness to trek through the heavy snow outside to his own battle with mental health: “Seven months ago, they told me I would never tour again.”

“Take A Walk,” “I’ll Be Alright,” and “Carried Away” were obvious favourites of the crowd—many of whom were seeing the band live for the first time, a midset poll by Angelakos found. Still, every song was greeted with just as much enthusiasm by both band and audience. “Constant Conversations” had them swaying, “Love Is Greed” had them shouting out “love, love, love,” and “Moth’s Wings” sparked some makeout sessions, for whatever reason. Their set finished with an encore of “Sleepyhead,” which was the most perfect nightcap.

* Published on February 19, 2013 at She Does the City.

Iceland’s Sóley and Of Monsters and Men dazzle at the Kool Haus

In Concert Reviews, Music on November 22, 2012 at 9:06 am

Photo credit: Caitlyn Holroyd

As if you needed more proof that Iceland is oozing with musical talent: enter singer/pianist Sóley and indie folk band Of Monsters and Men. Both performed last Friday in the second of two sold out Toronto shows and did not disappoint a packed Kool Haus.

Sóley opened the night with a collection of hauntingly beautiful songs that had several people around me asking one another, “Who is this girl?!” Between songs, she thanked people for showing up early to watch her perform and expressed her love for Toronto – a statement that obviously garnered plenty of cheers. (I honestly could have just listened to her talk…her accent is the best.) Maybe it’s her lyrics, or the dramatic piano pieces, but something about Sóley’s music makes me feel as though I’m in a film noir. Her 30-minute set ended with “I’ll Drown” – by far my favourite song off We Sink, her full-length debut – a song that, like it’s subject matter, seemed to render the audience speechless.

With song titles like “Mountain Sound” and “Lakehouse”, I expected a sea of plaid shirts and beards to show up for Of Monsters and Men’s set but, surprisingly, that wasn’t the case. They’re a band that appeals to many, which explains the rapid success they’ve experienced. The six-piece band exploded onto the music scene in the summer of 2011 with their single “Little Talks” off debut album My Head Is an Animal and haven’t slowed down since. Their set at the Kool Haus included nearly every song off that album as well as a cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Skeletons.” The singles were obvious favourites of the audience, but – as their 90-minute set proved – there is not one Of Monsters and Men song unworthy of an epic sing-a-long.

Iceland, don’t ever change.

* Published on November 19, 2012 at She Does the City

She Does The City Does Canadian Music Week 2012

In Concert Reviews, Music on April 10, 2012 at 8:19 am

Canadian Music Week was a week of tests. It tested out your decision-making skills (Which bands to see? Which to skip?) It tested out your 416 navigating abilities (The true experts know how to efficiently hop from bar to bar, using bikes and back alleys if necessary to make as many sets as possible). It tested out your stamina – the long lineups, sweaty front row, and 4 am last call were like a Survivor endurance challenge for an immunity win. It tested out your taste in music, your knowledge of Canadian history and the capacity of your eardrums.

Let’s just say we passed.

She Does the City did Canadian Music Week and while we couldn’t possibly split our bodies in two (or eight), we tried our best to tackle the best of CMW.

Thursday March 22

The Postelles, Tribes and Wildlife at Lee’s Palace 

The Great Escape showcase on Thursday had a pretty stellar lineup: New York City rockers The Postelles, Brit indie rockers Tribes and a foursome of local bands that included San Sebastian, Wildlife, Dirty Mags and Indian Handicrafts. Add Lee’s Palace to the mix and you’ve got yourself a rock n’ roll show, baby! (Which is probably why I stuffed my face with poutine guilt-free beforehand; leather jackets are very forgiving.) Highlights included The Postelles revealing a new song and girls going crazy for Tribes (it’s that British Invasion thing, right?). It’s tough to pick a favourite band of the night, but Wildlife did it for me with their great chemistry and lyrics that have the ability to take you to another, greener place. ~ Caitlyn Holroyd

Reggie Watts at The Danforth Music Hall

On Thursday, I scored a two-for-one deal as Reggie Watts stunned me with his hip-hop electro beatboxing slash improv comedy set as part of the Canadian International Comedy Fest. The Brooklyn-based ?uestlove doppelganger and Conan O’Brien fave, Reggie Watts’ brand of comedy was, well, different. Weird streams of out-there consciousness mixed with heavy beats and prolonged loops made Reggie one of the most interesting cats to tickle our funnybones since Zach Galifianakis. After his series of quips about time travel, Hammy the Hamster and other Canadian references paired with his fake French banter, Reggie finished his almost two-hour set with an impromptu dance party that rattled our insides and got the audience out of their seats. ~ Desiree Gamotin 

Martha Wainwright and The Dears at El Mocambo

Speaking of French (Canadian), right after Reggie’s comedy set I was able to catch the last couple of acts at La Belle Province Night at El Mocambo presented by SiriusXM and CBC Radio 3. Rufus has nothing on his sister, the lovely folk-rock warbler Martha Wainwright, as her short but sweet set struck all the right strings in our hearts. Cut to 1 a.m. and the crowd was still going strong. Montreal favourites The Dears “survived the night” despite standard mic and sound problems and satisfied nostalgic fans with “Lost in the Plot” and “The Death of All the Romance” only to bounce back onstage for a final encore. After being around for 17 years, The Dears still got it. Don’t mess with them. ~ Desiree Gamotin 

Friday March 23

East Coast music by day, Arts and Crafts by night
What could be better than a post-work week East Coast music party while the sun’s still out? Can’t think of anything. Following the deep-dimpled roots rocker Tim Chaisson and Morning Fold, I caught a snippet of Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers on the Sneaky Dee’s stage. Already having played a boatload of shows including the Official Opening Gala with Joel Plaskett at the CN Tower and Sonic Boom early during the day, Ben Caplan was a CMW hot commodity. Kicking off his set with “Drift Away,” his deep, raspy voice and melodramatic melodies filled my belly like a mug of Baileys hot chocolate.

And then the decision-making skills really went into full gear, but my long time love affair with Broken Social Scene and Co. sold me on the Arts and Crafts Showcase, where newly signed on bands like Snowblink and Gold & Youth impressed the rammed venue. Familiar faces also graced us with their presence as Justin Peroff from BSS and members of The Stills combined talents to create their latest moody project Eight and a Half. The Darcys and Zeus made waves soon after while “Secret Guest” Dan Mangan played a long set, which made the around-the-corner lineups outside The Horseshoe worthwhile. ~ Desiree Gamotin 

I wrote about BADBADNOTGOOD back in September when they were about to play their very first show, and the trio of guys from Humber College have come a long way since then. Jamming with Tyler, The Creator, opening for jazz-funk pioneer Roy Ayers at the Mod Club, and performing at BBC personality Giles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards in London, England. Not bad for a band that never really intended on being a band. Their show at Wrongbar covered everything from James Blake to Kanye and I was mesmerized the entire time. Also, ever heard of a mosh pit at a jazz show? It happened. ~ Caitlyn Holroyd

Saturday March 24

Teeth & Tongue at the Aussie BBQ, Brendan Canning’s curated night at The Garrison
The El Mocambo played host to the Aussie BBQ Saturday afternoon and I arrived just in time to watch Teeth & Tongue (a.k.a. Jess Cornelius) perform. The woman has killer vocals and stage presence, and her soulful songs provided the perfect soundtrack to a lazy afternoon. Also, more shows should have a BBQ component.

Come nighttime, I made my way to The Garrison for Young Lions Music Club’s Artist Select Series featuring Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning. Considering he was DJing/hosting, I was surprised The Garrison wasn’t packed to the brim (in the words of Milli Vanilli, blame it on the rain). The Balconies took to the stage just as I arrived and played a fun, energetic set that had the crowd trying to keep up. “Can we get sexy for a minute?” asked singer/guitarist Jacquie Neville at one point. It’s impossible to rival Jacquie when it comes to getting sexy, but I tried. Next up was ALX, the synth-pop band fronted by Allie Hughes, a theatrical singer who has previously worked with musical mastermind Andrew Lloyd Webber. In what was just the band’s second performance, ALX was haunting and catchy, and Hughes’ eccentricity had my eyes glued to the stage. ~ Caitlyn Holroyd

Sunday March 25

Oberhofer and The Temper Trap
After my pre-concert stretches and last can of Red Bull, sleep deprivation couldn’t keep me from catching the sold-out Temper Trap show at the Phoenix – my last CMW hurrah. The uber popular Aussies of The Temper Trap were pitch-perfect with faves like “Sweet Disposition” and “Love Lost” generating happy madness from the crowd. But more of my excitement stemmed from the openers Oberhofer, a bunch of moppy-haired, unassuming indie rock lads picked up by the music blogosphere and gearing up to play Coachella next month. With short, sweet and simple lyrics from songs like “Away Frm U” and “Gold,” I felt like a teenager in love. ~ Desiree Gamotin

Whew, we’re all tapped out from Canadian Music Week and ready to take a break from concert marathons. At least until North By Northeast, that is.

* Published on March 27, 2012 at She Does the City