CMW 2013: Wednesday

By Emily Scherzinger

Canadian Music Fest is a music festival featuring artists from all genres in venues across Toronto, running from March 19th to March 24th.

King Dylan at Annex Wreckroom

I began my first official night of spring at Annex Wreckroom to see King Dylan, an artist hailing from Calgary, Alberta who was the winner in the hip-hop category of the 2012 international John Lennon Songwriting Competition. With that high praise bestowed on him, as well as multiple favourable comparisons to Down With Webster, I was excited to see his performance.

King Brian at Annex Wreckroom

King Dylan at Annex Wreckroom

Despite a small crowd, Dylan’s energy did not falter one bit as he literally bounced from song to song, easily intermixing rap in between heartfelt singing while jerking his body across stage in an enthusiastic form of dancing.

I quickly made the evaluation that Dylan’s music is more akin to later Down With Webster rather than their early material. While I was prepared for more rock, Dylan’s music is more radio-friendly, with soft piano and lovelorn lyrics. And, while I appreciated the rap intermixed with singing, I just could not bring myself to appreciate his music because of this. Nevertheless, I was extremely impressed by the constant energy Dylan kept throughout the show, which looks hard because he must wear himself out with that jerky and jumpy dancing.

Techromancer at Annex Wreckroom

Once Techromancer stepped on stage, I was transported to a different universe, as the space-y, high-pitched introduction to their first song filled the room. Suddenly, a strobe light was flashing and they jumped into their first song, a catchy, electronic dance number that got people moving almost immediately.

The set continued on, and Calli, the lead singer, began flexing her vocal chords. It became increasingly apparent that their music is an eclectic but amazing mix of electro-pop melodies, violently dance-y drumbeats, and jazzy female vocals. If Calli’s voice was set to an acoustic guitar, you can bet that her CD would be sold in Starbucks across the world.

Techromancer at Annex Wreckroom

Techromancer at Annex Wreckroom

As their set came to an end, Techromancer jumped into a song that easily fits their described influences of “video games, sparklers, hairless cats, flashing lights, and lunar eclipses.” Fast-paced, synth-heavy music combined with the strobe light flashing like a siren caused Calli to joke to the audience, “We should probably call that song ‘Seizure Alert.’”

Shiny Darkly at The Garrison

I personally enjoy when music is so loud that you feel nauseous, and, for that, I turn to The Garrison, where I saw the contemporary shoegazing Copenhagen band, Shiny Darkly. Their set was full of lonely, quietly angry, and honest music akin to Echo & The Bunnymen, but with more distorted guitar.

Shiny Darkly at The Garrison

Kristoffer Bech of Shiny Darkly at The Garrison

As they began their set, the audience held back from the stage, either because of the overwhelming wall of sound or the actual desire to gaze at their shoes. However, people eventually began moving towards the stage and, despite minimal crowd involvement from the band, the audience was swaying and loving the music for the entire show. Shiny Darkly played an unrelenting, viciously honest show that harked back to 80’s post-punk. This describes their style perfectly, as their songs were almost all filled with shouts intermixed with monotonous singing and graceful tempo changes, making me think I was at an Echo & the Bunnymen concert.

Sweatshop Union at Global Village Backpackers

There was perhaps no show I was more excited about during CMW than Sweatshop Union, a politically minded hip-hop collective formed in 2000 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The minute I stepped into the already packed venue, I knew it was going to be a good show. The crowd was shaking, moving, throwing their hands in the air, and going crazy as they listened to Union’s tight set.

Their flow was unrelenting and powerful, with beautiful delivery in the trade-off between each of the rappers. This was a pleasure to watch, because live performances by hip-hop collectives can sometimes turn into a competition of stardom between the members. Instead, Sweatshop Union came across as more than just another hip-hop collective – they came across as a team.

Sweatshop Union at Global Village Backpackers

Sweatshop Union at Global Village Backpackers

This made their show one of the best rap concerts I have been to, along with the fact that they genuinely reached out to the audience. With Toronto’s bad reputation of being a dangerously vicious city to rap artists, it is not surprising that many rap artists avoid audience contact at their shows. But Sweatshop Union threw this out the window and tried to get as much hype as possible from the crowd, with great success as the audience gave feedback in the form of screaming, dancing, and applause.

Apparat Organ Quartet at The Garrison

I ended my night back at The Garrison to see Apparat Organ Quartet, an Icelandic band that cannot easily fit into one genre. While their instruments of choice are synthesizers and revamped home organs, they do not easily fit into the electronic genre due to the rhythm of their music. Instead, they self-describe their music perfectly as “machine rock and roll.”

Úlfur Eldjárn of Apparat Organ Quartet at The Garrison

Úlfur Eldjárn of Apparat Organ Quartet at The Garrison

As their electronic melodies filled The Garrison, the drummer pounded out rhythms in the style of rock and metal, stomping on a double bass pedal and using the cymbals heavily. This intermix of electronic melody and metal and hard rock-style drums separates this quartet from other electronic music out there by providing their instrumental songs with a driving background force, the drums, to create an ethereal musical experience.

After their set, I found myself discussing Icelandic music with three of the band members of 41st and Home. I waved my arms around, attempting to explain that Icelandic music is “philosophical, in a way.” Garth Covernton, the drummer of 41st and Home, said that the music of Apparat Organ Quartet makes him feel as though he is “battling the meaning of life in a video game and winning.” The best analysis of a genre-bending organ quartet? I think so.

I stepped outside of my regular domain of rock and rap by seeing more electronic bands than I had ever seen in one night. But is that not what CMW is about? I experienced bands (Apparat Organ Quartet, Shiny Darkly) that I never would have been able to see before, discovered a new band (Techromancer), and was able to see an amazing rap concert (Sweatshop Union). I am sure it is pretty obvious that the night was a win in my books.

Follow Emily and other Demo contributors during CMW on Twitter and Instagram for live updates.

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