CMW 2013: The Danger Bees @ The Rivoli by Adam Bunch

SATURDAY— We spend a lot of our time on The Little Red Umbrella talking about the excellent, new, young, '90s-ish powerpop groups in Toronto — Topanga, Dangerband, The Dirty Nil — and Saturday night at the Rivoli was a helpful reminder that we owe some of that awesomeness to the East Coast. The Danger Bees might live in Toronto now, but (like Sloan before them) they originally called Nova Scotia home. And with that province's flag draped behind them on stage, they played a hell of a set at the Music From Nova Scotia showcase in the Rivoli's sweaty, packed backroom.

It was  a pretty raucous crowd filling the space between those brick walls (maybe predictably so? given the number of Martime ex-pats in attendence?) and they were happy to cheer and bounce along as frontman David Macmichael delivered what the band's website calls "woe-is-me, I-suck, girls-suck lyrics". But if you weren't listening closely to the words, you'd never guess Macmichael was signing songs about alcoholism and a Sisyphean lovelife — most of The Danger Bees' tunes are exactly the kind of upbeat, hook-filled powerpop you'd expect to come from happy people.

But there's more going on with The Danger Bees than that — Macmichael can write a quiet melancholic song just as well as he writes loudly melancholic ones. As the set drew to a close, the rest of the band left him alone on stage. He brought Mary Stewart up with him. They ended the night with an acoustic rendition of the clever ballad of "Heartless Jane." ("She has a fear of public speaking / Not of public nudity / Why do you girls do-do-do-do-do-do-do this to me...? / She is too good-looking / For her own good / She reels me in / With a figure like a fish hook / But I just don't know / When she takes off her clothes...")

The band is disappearing into the studio for a while to concentrate on recording their new EP. Here's hoping they'll emerge again soon. Toronto can use more shows like this one.


Find all of our coverage of Canadian Music Week 2013 here

Photos by Adam Bunch.

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at


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