THE TORONTOPIA MOMENT
For a three- or four-year period in the early 2000s, a sense of pride overcame the music scene in Canada’s biggest city. Frustrated by its reputation as the land of soulless money-grubbing, communities around events like Wavelength, labels like Three Gut Records and Blocks Recording Club, and music collectives like Hidden Cameras and Broken Social Scene rallied around a more positive view of the city’s creatives. Ironically, the global success of key members like Feist and Owen Pallett took them from us and deflated the movement’s central momentum, although its spirit remains.
After the inaugural shortlist for the first Polaris Music Prize was announced, I noted, in an editor’s column, how many nominees had recently been on the cover of Exclaim! Reader Chives2 took offense, writing: “We’re great, see, we had a bunch of the no-talent losers nominated for Polaris ‘awards’ on the cover. How about for a change your magazine talks about bands other than Broken Social Scene, Stars, Metric, Arcade Fire, Wolf Eyes, AIDS Wolf, Final Fantasy or the New Pornographers? The fact that you’re proud that a bunch of lightweight artists ‘graced’ the cover of your publication reeks of desperation and insecurity.”