CMW 2015: Dear Rouge @ Tattoo

SATURDAY — Canadian Music Week's Saturday night found us within the dark recesses of Tattoo on Queen West. And it was the surprise guest on the bill who might very well have been the highlight of the Universal Music showcase. Dear Rouge appeared out of nowhere. Frontwoman Danielle McTaggart tore threw a blistering set. She was hard to take your eyes off, glittering boots and disco pants taking us back to the raw days of 1970s rock 'n' roll, the stage engulfed in a swirl of smoke and bathed in colour. 



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Read all our coverage of CMW 2015 here.

Photos by Carmen Cheung, the Arts Editor for The Little Red Umbrella.

Words by Adam Bunch, Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project and Toronto Historical Jukebox. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at adam@littleredumbrella.com.


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CMW 2015: Pkew Pkew Pkew (gunshots) @ The Silver Dollar

SATURDAY — Okay, so, to be honest, things tend to get a little... uh... blurry by the time we reach the wee hours of a festival's final night. And this year's CMW Saturday was even blurrier than usual. It was a little after one in the morning by the time we stumbled into the Dollar. We'd started drinking on the roof of the Bovine about twelve hours earlier. Everything after about nine that night starts to get hazy. Hell, everything after Thursday does: drunk on top of hangover on top of drunk on top of hangover...

So here's what we remember:

Beer. Sweat. Mike Warne's raging electric guitar. The ever-changing lights. Red. Purple. Green. Blue. The relentless, earth-shaking pulse of Dave Laino's drum kit. The crowd, a swirling confusion of people. Stefan from PUP grinning in the front row, moshing with the manic energy of a punk frontman on his night off, half-drenched in sweat and booze. Vince from Stella somewhere nearby, bathed in blue. Someone from the band — was it Mike? was it Ryan? was it Emmett? — heading down off the stage into the writhing mass of the audience, microphone outstretched into the singing faces of strangers. And a whole room screaming along to the chorus of "Asshole Pandemic." And to "Stop Calling Us, Chief." And the air in that room come alive.

Then, the fuzzy-eyed hangover. An early Mother's Day Sunday morning. The too-bright sun. The headache, vicious and unfair. Finding these grainy photos on our phone. And nothing but vague, half-lost memories of the night before.



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Read all our coverage of CMW 2015 here.

Words and photos by Adam Bunch, Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project and Toronto Historical Jukebox. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at adam@littleredumbrella.com.


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CMW 2015: Ben Lee @ The Great Hall

THURSDAY — Ben Lee has been a massive part of my life ever since I first ‘discovered’ him late one night in the mid-1990s, while I was watching an episode of Much Music’s The Wedge. They played the video for “Away with the Pixies” (from his first solo album, Grandpaw Would) — which was the start of a 20-year long love of his music.

I hunted down everything I could find about him; ordered albums as imports from HMV after countless blank stares from sales clerks; joined an internet fan club to get mix-tape bootlegs from live shows around the world; defended him against my friends who just didn’t understand my love for his sometimes sugary sweet, sometimes goofy, sometimes depressingly sad music. His music was the starting basis for one of my now longest friendships — discovering we were both the biggest Ben Lee fans we’d ever met, listening to those bootleg cassettes on a school bus trip to NYC in 1999 as we stayed awake through sunrise in the Adirondacks, bonding over our shared love of this relatively unknown Australian artist (relatively unknown at least to suburban Etobicoke – our world was not that big).

I’ve seen him live countless times, but seeing him again on Canadian Music Week's Thursday night at the Great Hall filled me with glee. As he bantered with the crowd, excitedly sharing that he’d just played a gig at the Qantas Lounge in L.A., I could feel all the stress of my week washing away. His affable, silly nature has an amazing way of putting a crowd at ease, and making a show feel like an intimate set in your very own living room. Beginning with "Into The Dark" from his album Awake is the New Sleep, he played a solid set of old classics and songs from his upcoming album, Love is A Rebellion. His new music had that rare feeling of instantly becoming new favourites; one — “Everything is OK” — stood out to me as being particularly special. As a chronic worrier, I can see the chorus of “Everything is OK… even when it’s not” becoming a new anthem in my life, to help get me through any new anxious moments. It’s not a complicated song, and the chorus is simple… but that’s one of the reasons I love his music so much. Its simple poignancy has a way of cutting right to the heart of the matter, stripping away all bullshit, making things easy.

Ben Lee's music is honest, and earnest, and true… and that’s the way I like it.



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Read all our coverage of CMW 2015 here.

Words by Laurie McGregor is a Toronto-based dilettante. She likes books, music, soft things, baking, unicorns, robots and has an unnatural love of vending machines. You can find all her posts here and email her at laurie@littleredumbrella.com.

Photos by Adam Bunch, Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project and Toronto Historical Jukebox. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at adam@littleredumbrella.com.


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CMW 2015: Midday Swim @ The Bovine Sex Club

SATURDAY – Saturday afternoon found us high above Queen Street, getting day-drunk on the rooftop of the Bovine Sex Club. There's a whole Tiki bar up there, making it a natural fit for the laid back sunshine tunes of Midday Swim. They played as part of the Canadian Music Week day party hosted by AB Co. (fresh off their new re-brand from their original Audio Blood moniker) and the Planetary Group, on a bill that also boasted acts like Ivory Hours and Cairo.

But it was Midday Swim we were most excited to see — their single, "Summer Eyes," promises to be a staple of our iPhone playlists during the sunny months to come. And they didn't disappoint, with chill frontman David Krygier-Baum leading the band through their dreamy, catchy, laidback tunes.



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Read all our coverage of CMW 2015 here.

Words by Adam Bunch, Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project and Toronto Historical Jukebox. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at adam@littleredumbrella.com.

Photos by Carmen Cheung, the Arts Editor for The Little Red Umbrella.


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CMW 2015: LYON @ The Mod Club

FRIDAY — The most pleasant surprise of our Canadian Music Week came on Friday night. We already knew we liked LYON — at least, we did on record. In fact, we included the slow-burning synth-pop of "Indian Summer" as part of our preview podcast before the festival began. But this was our first time seeing the Toronto group — fronted by Lauren Malyon — live. And you can never tell how the songs you love on SoundCloud are going to translate onto a stage. Especially when that stage is as big and bright as the Mod Club's.

Turns out they translate pretty fucking well. The set launched with the understated "Indian Summer" and took off from there. By the time they reached the full-on dance-pop of "Catch Me If I Fall" it was obvious that LYON's songs are even better live, the kind of anthems that demand to be heard in a big room crammed full of people late on a sweaty festival night. Malyon was a tall, charismatic figure, her long, psychedelic print dress bathed in the ever-changing light. There were synths and electric guitars and two electric violins. And there was a cover of the Eurythmics' "Here Comes the Rain Again". Finally, there was "Cut Me Loose" — the catchy climax of the set had the crowd dancing along.

We'll have the records to tide us over, but the next time we get the chance, we'll be seeing LYON live again.



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Read all our coverage of CMW 2015 here.

Words and photos by Adam Bunch, Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project and Toronto Historical Jukebox. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at adam@littleredumbrella.com.


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CMW 2015: Brave Shores @ The Mod Club

FRIDAY – When we think back to this year's Canadian Music Week, the set we'll remember best is this one. And that's despite the fact that we were appropriately drunk by the time the Toronto dance-rockers in Brave Shores took the stage. They headlined the Indie88 showcase at the Mod Club on the festival's Friday night, taking their places under the bright lights an hour before midnight. The club was packed by then — a throng of people crushing forward at the lip of the stage, stretching all the way back to the doors. But even though the band have only been around for a couple of years, as soon as they launched into their set it was clear they were up to the challenge of a slot with such a high profile.

The audience was on their side from the beginning. Brave Shores' barn-burning electro-rocker "Never Come Down" has been getting played on Indie88 since long before their debut album hit the shelves last fall. It seemed like everyone in the room already knew the words — not just to one song, but to most of them — and they didn't hesitate to sing along. The band's own enthusiasm — with constant, broad smiles spread across the faces of front-siblings Stefanie and Jay McCarrol — was infectious. It's not often that a Canadian Music Week set earns an encore. But as the band headed off into the wings at the end of the night, it was obvious one was coming: the audience wasn't going to accept anything less. By the time it was all over — including a final climax that saw the band briefly break into Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" — it was more than clear: Brave Shores have arrived. 



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Read all our coverage of CMW 2015 here.

Words by Adam Bunch, Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project and Toronto Historical Jukebox. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at adam@littleredumbrella.com.

Photos by Carmen Cheung, the Arts Editor for The Little Red Umbrella.



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