Revelations from CMW: Tampons, A&R hawks and heavy metal acceptance
Having recovered from Canadian Music Week, we have a few observations to share beyond the usual “this band played, they were good” reviews.
Major labels: Good luck scouting the underground
As major labels continue to cannibalize each other, some say into complete irrelevency, you might think big deals at CMW are a thing of the past. So I was shocked to see a group of grey-haired suited-up men from one of the “Big 4″ major labels scouting Toronto jazz-hip hop fusers Badbadnotgood and Montreal DJ/producer Lunice at Wrongbar Friday. “He’s a cute little bugger isn’t he?” one of them remarked of Lunice. Bugger? I responded that I’ve been eyeing him for a while. Interest in Lunice has likely doubled since he’s paired with Scottish electronic prodigy Hudson Mohawke to for a bass-hip-hop project called TNGHT. The president of said major label was particularly smitten with Montreal singer-producer Ango, who took the stage with BBNG for a rendition of Sade’s No Ordinary Love. Still, I don’t see any of these acts wanting to sign to a major, and the A&R reps were too busy drinking to notice a more unknown breakout act, a last-minute opener from Montreal named Black Iris Black Atlass – a doomed soulful voice which could rival The Weeknd. - Marsha Casselman
The date change wasn’t such a bad thing after all
There was some hand-wringing this year about CMW’s controversial decision (at least among insider types) to move the festival from its usual pre-SXSW perch to the week after the Texas fest. The date change didn’t exactly bring in a huge payload of notable names, and surprisingly tacked CMW on after Austin, but it did even one score between it and its superior Toronto summer festival, NXNE: the weather. Instead of its usual freezing rain, the festival coincided with unseasonable summer-like weather that allowed for more NXNE-style daytime events (typically our favourite part of any festival). Audio Blood Media’s Thursday party, for instance, screamed NXNE, taking place as it did on a Chinatown rooftop, with free cold beer, Sneaky Dee’s nachos and the “Jagerettes” handing out branded underwear. Okay, that last bit was a bit strange. - Richard Trapunski
Bands should use props more often
In a sea of indie bands who often just stand there and play, it was refreshing to see a little theatrics at CMW. We projected there would be blood on stage for gothic punk-metal band Dentata at our Comfort Zone showcase Saturday, but we didn’t expect this kind of blood. When frontwoman lifted her skirt to reveal her stained underpants, then from somewhere pulled out a bloody tampon AND put it in her mouth – the audience was in shock, awe and delight. Luckily it was fake blood – at least that’s what we’re hoping. You might want to double check the Untold City’s footage. Truthfully though, this kind of stunt might be relegated to the punk and metal world. (Dentata’s new lineup certainly beefs up the metal content with their flawless cover of Metallica’s “Jump in the Fire”.) - Marsha Casselman
Toronto likes metal, so where’s it at?
Okay, we get it. Toronto is an indie rock/electronic/Drake-centric city. At least, that’s what the Toronto press would have you believe. The amazing crowd at the CMW Metalliance Showcase would have disagreed with you entirely. Featuring a stellar bill of heavy metal artists including Dying Fetus, Job for a Cowboy, DevilDriver (and more!), the Metalliance showcase was sparsely attended by media and CMW staff. An utter shock, I can assure you, given the fact that the show was one of my most exciting festival experiences. The love and loyalty Toronto displays to heavy metal is without par. Vancouver’s ‘3 Inches of Blood‘ were the only Canadian heavy metallurgists to appear on the bill (considering the impressive body of heavy metal to come out of Canada recently, this is in itself a shock. I would have liked to have seen Calgary’s Mares of Thrace on the bill) . 3 Inches of Blood is touring in promotion of their hot-off-the-press NWOBHM-inspired release Long Live Heavy Metal, which is a fine sentiment for a showcase that saw little to no attention from the festival itself, but a truly inspiring turnout from Toronto metalheads who moshed and headbanged up a storm in support. (though the moshers got their share of pushing and shoving in. One kind gentleman gave me a rather unpleasant shot to the sternum in his attempts to start a one-man moshpit). Given the fact that the Opera House was packed to the gills, I can only hope that CMW hears the call and offers more (and better promoted) Canadian metal next year. - Chris Wright