Best and worst of CMW

From Fucked Up’s subway show to Alice Glass’s home­town de­but, th­ese are the shows that turned our heads at CMW

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STEVE GUNN at the Great Hall, Mon­day, May 7. Rat­ing: NNNN Steve Gunn took his time fin­ger­pick­ing his way into his solo set, ex­plain­ing, “I need to wake my­self up and re­mind my­self that I’m play­ing a show.” The New York song­writer had driven 11 hours to be here and looked zonked. But a few songs in, Gunn shifted to­ward new songs, which seemed to fo­cus him and the au­di­ence. Be­tween them he played a cover of Michael Chap­man’s beau­ti­ful Among The Trees at the re­quest of Toronto gui­tarist Matt “Doc” Dunn be­fore get­ting even more cos­mic with the open-tuned bluesy slide guitar and just-loud-enough dis­tor­tion of his own Mr. Franklin.


BEAMS at Lee’s Palace, Wed­nes­day, May

9. Rat­ing: NNN Beams flew through a set of mini epics, a folk-in­flected sprawl that un­furled into noisy crescen­dos, while a list­less au­di­ence re­ceded to the back of the room for not-so-muted con­ver­sa­tion. It was a bum­mer, al­though a mild one con­sid­er­ing that this is pretty much the ar­che­typal Wed­nes­day-night CMW ex­peri-

ence, which tends to cater more to the mu­sic in­dus­try than the city’s or­ganic com­mu­nity of fans. Nev­er­the­less, the lo­cal group seemed un­fazed, and gave off a col­lec­tive en­ergy that soared above what they got in re­turn. This is the sort of band who drag a vi­bra­phone on­stage to dou­ble a melody played by a banjo. They know ex­actly what they’re do­ing.


CUPCAKKE at the Mod Club, Thurs­day, May 10. Rat­ing: NNNN There is no one on this earth quite like CupcakKe, and that is a gift. The Chicago rap­per brought her sen­sual and ex­plicit bars to an in­sa­tiable crowd. Mo­ments be­fore she ca­su­ally walked on­stage, the lights dimmed slightly and fans rushed to the front. CupcakKe, at first mo­men­tar­ily dumb­founded by the en­thu­si­as­tic re­sponse, quickly as­sumed a pow­er­ful and mes­mer­iz­ing slow strut. She ran through Vag­ina, Duck Duck Goose, her lat­est sin­gle Quiz and the an­themic, in­clu­sive LGBT, which elicited pro­found cries of joy. The only draw­back was the set’s length: at only 30 min­utes, we were all left still hun­gry. SARAH MACDON­ALD

YONATAN GAT at Sneaky Dee’s, Thurs­day, May 10. Rat­ing: NNNN Yonatan Gat and his band set up right on the floor and blasted through a set of end­less modal solo­ing that squawked, pealed and churned. The re­lent­less riffage would per­haps be ex­haust­ing if it weren’t for the fe­ro­cious dy­namism of the band, who made ev­ery song feel like a dis­as­trous weather event. Tor­rents of melodic shred­ding were buf­feted and ca­joled by mon­strous drum fury and pre­car­i­ously teth­ered by an un­sink­able bassist. After punc­tu­at­ing the set with sev­eral dozen guitar-wind­mill ex­cla­ma­tion marks, Gat qui­etly thanked the au­di­ence and killed the lights. Ev­ery­one stood blink­ing in the dark for a mo­ment, as though we’d all just stepped off a play­ground carousel a little too quickly. MS

LY­DIA LUNCH at Hard Luck Bar, Thurs­day, May 10. Rat­ing: NNNN About half­way through a set of atonal guitar scrape and vi­o­lent rasp, some­one screamed out “Ly­dia, you’re a le­gend.” The 58-year-old no wave pi­o­neer replied, “Oh dar­ling, in your own mind, not mine. I’m not dead yet.” It fits with the genre

she helped build, which is anti-legacy, anti-in­flu­ence and anti-most things, yet still full of hu­mour and camp. Lunch her­self was both con­fronta­tional and invit­ing, full of twisted, gothic charisma. She de­light­edly re­fused re­quests (“this is not the Ly­dia Lunch box”) but also de­fended a fan who was told to shut up when he was talk­ing dur­ing the quiet part. “If this set makes sense to you,” she said to­wards the end, ”then you’re about as fucked up as I am.” RICHARD TRAPUNSKI

JAUNT at the Gar­ri­son, Thurs­day, May 10. Rat­ing: NNNN In just 40 min­utes, Jaunt proved them­selves to be one of Toronto’s most ver­sa­tile bands, ef­fort­lessly mix­ing jazz, dreamy R&B, ex­per­i­men­tal folk and straight-up catchy pop. They drew from their re­cently-re­leased EP, Cue, but the songs jour­neyed be­yond the record­ings via ex­tended in­stru­men­tal out­ros and mid-song break­downs, with­out ever feel­ing self-in­dul­gent. The high­light was 2016’s Gen­tle Re­minder, which seam­lessly tran­si­tions into a chilled-out ren­di­tion of Usher’s U Re­mind Me, that some­how had me ac­tively long­ing for awk­ward, pre­pubescent ju­nior high dances while I was bliss­fully sway­ing along.


THE BEACHES at the Opera House, Fri­day, May 11. Rat­ing: NNNN Be­fore the Beaches took the stage for the sold-out fi­nal stop of their first head­lin­ing tour across Canada, Avril Lav­i­gne’s voice thun­dered through­out the Opera House. (The Toronto rock four­some are self-pro­claimed Lav­i­gne lovers.) They had pure rock ’n’ roll en­ergy rip­ping through Loner, Mo­ment and hit sin­gle Money. But it was their spec­tac­u­lar cover of The Ronettes’ Be My Baby that showed their true po­ten­tial as a group. Their set sounded like the Strokes but looked like if that band were in a 90s teen com­edy. Truth­fully, it was quite a sight. SM

HAN HAN at Su­per Won­der Gallery, Fri­day, May 11. Rat­ing: NNNN Han Han is a nurse by day, poet/MC by night, and she pulled an overnight shift prior to her show. But it didn’t hin­der her per­for­mance, which evoked the chal­lenges, tri­umphs and com­plex­i­ties of

be­ing oth­ered. Per­formed in Ta­ga­log and Ce­buano with a bit of English (“My songs are in Filipino, so too bad,” she joked after her first song), it fo­cused on dual iden­ti­ties, sep­a­ra­tion and long­ing and laugh­ter in the face of pain. She was joined by a fierce group of dancers, in­clud­ing chore­og­ra­pher Fly Lady Di. After play­ing pri­mar­ily from her 2014 epony­mous de­but, she de­buted two new tracks, in­clud­ing one ded­i­cated to peo­ple of colour, and left the au­di­ence eat­ing out of her hands. Chaka V. Grier

Belly at Rebel, Fri­day, May 11. Rat­ing: NNN “We came here to fuck­ing party!” said Belly dur­ing his set at the iHeartRa­dio FanFest, and boy did he know how to party. The crowd couldn’t help but bounce with the Ot­tawa rap­per. He brought a lot of va­ri­ety, from his re­bel­lious Mum­ble Rap to the saucy Con­suela, with lyri­cism that proved that he’s more than just a hit­maker. Where he fal­tered was keep­ing ev­ery­one en­gaged dur­ing Might Not, which promi­nently fea­tures the Weeknd. He did his best, but you can only try to hype the crowd so much be­fore it just feels forced. Ser­Gio araNGio

aliCe GlaSS at the Mod Club, Fri­day, May 11. Rat­ing: NNN

Alice Glass has picked up where she left off with Crys­tal Cas­tles: di­al­ing back the abra­sive scream­ing to em­pha­size melody and vul­ner­a­bil­ity. She has a rep as a fullthrot­tle per­former, but her de­but home­town solo head­liner felt tepid – al­beit loud. The pit was jump­ing but most in the laid-back crowd po­litely drank in her two-mem­ber band’s gothy and mus­cu­lar synth, bass and drum rhythms as Glass dropped airy vo­cals into the icy din. She left the ban­shee wails to the back­ing tracks, but danced through­out, climbed on top of the drum kit and made a cou­ple of trips into the pit. “Please don’t grab my ass – it’s not cool,” she said upon re­turn­ing to the stage at one point. Per­haps sens­ing the ten­ta­tive vibe in the room a woman’s voice called out: “We sup­port you!” The set fea­tured al­most all of Glass’s solo songs plus a hand­ful of CC sin­gles and left the mosh pit beg­ging for “one more song.” They wouldn’t get it, but she re­turned for a round of thank yous and hand­shakes. keViN ritChie

at the Baby G, Satur­day, May 12.

aN­Nie hart

Rat­ing: NNN If you watched Twin Peaks: The Re­turn, you should be fa­mil­iar with An­nie Hart’s band Au Revoir Si­mone from their two Road­house per­for­mances. Her solo ma­te­rial is a more min­i­mal­ist ver­sion of the trio’s al­ready un­der­stated synth-pop. The song­writ­ing on her de­but solo LP Im­pres­sive Ac­com­plice is sharp and hooky, so part of the fun of watch­ing her per­form was how she – and one band­mate – cre­ated rich at­mos­phere us­ing few el­e­ments: synths, guitar, loops and some sim­ple chore­ographed moves. The set’s high­light was when she built the porous bal­lad Cal­i­for­nia Song us­ing synth loops and then lay on her back in front of the stage to in­ter­pret it. Her aes­thetic isn’t far from the Chro­mat­ics’ neon cool, but Hart has a droll play­ful­ness that mixes a the­atri­cal edge into her dreamy vibes. kr

FooNyap at Small World Mu­sic ñ Cen­tre, Satur­day, May 12. Rat­ing: NNNN Dur­ing the hus­tle and bus­tle of CMW, Foonyap’s hour-long set felt like a sooth­ing ex­hale. The Calgary-based ex­per­i­men­tal artist art­fully looped and lay­ered vi­o­lin and man­dolin, along­side her power-

ful voice that re­ver­ber­ated across the in­ti­mate the­atre. She’d of­ten be­gin songs by sim­ply pluck­ing her vi­o­lin, grad­u­ally adding whis­pers of man­dolin strums, dra­matic bows and oth­er­worldly ef­fects. And just as the songs grew into boom­ing sound­scapes, she’d un­ravel them piece by piece. The per­for­mance was a wel­come re­prieve from the reg­u­lar rock show fod­der of CMW and left me feel­ing re­ju­ve­nated. se

DusteD Rat­ing: nnn “I know it’s early by [CMW] last call stan­dards,

at the Gar­ri­son, Satur­day, May 12.

but we’re go­ing to start this off a little chill,” Brian Borcherdt an­nounced when he came on shortly after 1 am. The Dusted front­man be­gan with Sea­sons, the breezy opener from his re­cently re­leased al­bum, Black­out Sum­mer, be­fore launch­ing into a se­ries of rol­lick­ing songs that show­cased his full new back­ing band. Al­though Borcherdt’s been play­ing shows with Dusted on and off since 2012, he told the crowd that it felt like one of his first and that he needed to get over the nerves. And while he didn’t seem par­tic­u­larly ner­vous, he def­i­nitely looked the most com­fort­able when play­ing Prop­erty Lines, a throw­back from his de­but. Un­for­tu­nately, that was the last song of the night so the new­found con­fi­dence was short-lived. se

Moscow ApArt­Ment at the Rivoli, ñ

Tues­day, May 8. Rat­ing: NNNN Moscow Apart­ment were stoked for their CMW set, and for good rea­son: if they weren’t play­ing, they wouldn’t be al­lowed in. The high-schooler duo of Brighid Fry and Pas­cale Padilla – backed up for some songs by an equally teenaged rhythm sec­tion – skirt the lines be­tween folk and in­die rock. Their har­mony-rich songs tack­led top­ics like un­re­al­is­tic beauty stan­dards, peo­ple who be­lieve in ghosts and pe­ri­ods – plus cov­ers of Big Thief and Ra­di­a­tor Hos­pi­tal – with the un­jaded wis­dom of youth. “Some­times it’s hard to be a teenager, I don’t know if you peo­ple re­mem­ber,” Padilla said in a bit of charm­ingly goofy stage ban­ter, which con­tin­ued through­out. “Is any­one here un­der­age?” Trick ques­tion. rt

Nate huSSer at the Drake Ho­tel, Wed­nes­day, May 9. Rat­ing: NNN Nate Husser’s mu­sic rev­els in con­flict which makes the push-and-pull dy­namic be­tween the Montreal per­former and his au­di­ence at a live show the ideal set­ting for his mu­sic. Though the...

Pa­trick Pent­land of Sloan. CMW’s free con­cert at Yonge-Dun­das Square was mostly shruggy vibes be­fore Sloan took the stage, but it only took a cou­ple of songs for them to chan­nel the crowd’s list­less en­ergy into rap­tur­ous at­ten­tion. The band’s...

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