CMW 2013: Friday

By Adam Bernhardt

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

The Great Wilderness at The Garrison

This Friday night’s lineup at The Garrison promised an evening of noisy fun and pleasant surprises. The first band to play was Costa Rica’s The Great Wilderness who played unjustly to an almost empty room, but such is life as a festival opener. Conjuring up a dense wall of cooing vocals and twin fender guitar noise, The Great Wilderness brought to mind an interesting synthesis of post-punk, shoe gaze, and dream pop, all of which was played with a vigorous energy. The drummer accomplished this especially, who pounded his kit mercilessly into submission. The weaving guitar lines and haunting vocals of The Great Wilderness were definitely an early highlight; it is just a shame that few people were around to see it.

First You Get the Sugar at The Garrison

They were followed by Montreal’s First You Get the Sugar, a band whose stage uniform of blue jeans and matching white t-shirts with their faces printed on them may come off as a bit gimmicky, but underneath the goonish shenanigans lies a carefully developed melodic finesse.  Being able to play the best bar mitzvah-come-reggae anthem complete with high kicks and frequent tempo changes just demonstrates their instrumental prowess. Equally adept at storming high-energy garage rock as they are soothing vocal harmonies, FYGTS’s set left a very good impression. Able to comfortably channel a wide variety of influences into their own unique humorous sound, First You Get The Sugar can definitely claim to be one of the best Simpsons reference bands playing today. Also, I cannot help but add, they had their grandparents in the audience, which was super cute.

Rikers at The Garrison

Toronto’s own synth-pop band, Rikers, played a rather unremarkable set of lethargic electronic jams which would have been ignorable were it not for the antics of the lead singer, who frequently jumped off stage, threw around his mike stand, and his malarkey eventually culminated in him passionately hurling a chair at the bemused audience (i.e., me).  This kind of confrontational stage presence might work well with other types of music, but contrasts harshly with the mid tempo, minor chord new wave of Rikers. This disparity between the music and the stage presence creates a confusing performance for the audience.

Rikers at The Garrison

Rikers at The Garrison

This is Head at The Garrison

Swedish art pop quartet, This is Head, followed Rikers with a captivating brand of off-kilter pop that was heavy on the glacial synths and hypnotic tribal rhythms.  A refreshing change from the previous act, This is Head frequently appealed to the audience to come a little bit closer and stop standing so far away. Occasionally upbeat and danceable, and on occasion sullen and reflective, the eccentric pop sensibilities and angular rhythms of This is Head left many wanting more.

Funeral Suits at The Garrison

Funeral Suits, an Irish indie band that incorporates electronic and contemporary rock influences to make a uniquely energetic yet melancholy sound, followed them.  Frequently recalling bands like M83 and Stereolab, Funeral Suits added a healthy dose of energy to the dense electronica of those bands and made for a captivating live show.

A Place To Bury Strangers at The Garrison

The evening climaxed with the appearance of the secret guest, A Place To Bury Strangers. This band is notoriously so loud that they have their own brand of earplugs. And, with an album titled “Exploding Head”, they definitely lived up to their reputation for aural carnage. Cloaked in a percolating wall of fog, APTBS projected images of flowers, and color onto this moving wall that produced an eerie environment and rendered them almost completely indiscernible.

A Place To Bury Strangers at The Garrison, photo by Nyssa Komorowski

A Place To Bury Strangers at The Garrison, photo by Nyssa Komorowski

Matching this wall of imagery was, of course, their signature wall of noise, which, despite the presence of earplugs, was still tinnitus inducing.  Flailing around wildly, the sound and the fury of APTBS was perfectly complemented by the small confines of The Garrison.  Drawing on songs new and old, they bludgeoned the audience into submission underneath rolling tidal waves of feedback that reverberated in your skull for hours afterwards. This guitar frenzy culminated in vocalist and guitarist Oliver Ackermann playing his guitar with a strobe light, coaxing Geiger counter-like clicks and sweeping clangorous glissandos out of his beat-to-hell Fender before finally ripping the strings off with his hands and pointing the strobe light into the defeated audience.

Despite the relative lack of Canadian talent, The Garrison hosted a great night bookended by two fantastic bands, and complete with several unexpected gems.

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

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