Saturday, March 30, 2013

Canadian Musicfest - Diana @ Virgin Mobile Mod Club, Toronto (March 20, 2013)

Carmen Elle of Diana: photo by Michael Ligon
  Carmen Elle of Diana: photo by Michael Ligon

For all the criticisms directed towards Canadian Music Week / Canadian Musicfest, some of which I must agree with, I've taken it as a challenge to sift through the schedule and choose acts who are mostly unknown to me, that pique my interest and will hopefully deliver if I do end up checking out their set. I was less inclined this year to doing the festival hardcore but was more focused on catching at least a few acts a day. I took in the festival from Wednesday to Saturday and managed to catch a number of bands that really delivered the goods.

The festival kicked off quietly on Tuesday March 19 but was in full gear by the night after which is the night choose to begin. Although originally I had plans earlier in the evening to check out Swiss singer-songwriter Heidi Happy at Supermarkert, I had a change of heart and decided choose locals, Diana, instead. Fortunately, I had come early (although, not too early) enough to get in with my media wristband with no problems and without lining up in the cold. There was a bit of confusion (to put it politely) with a scrum of media wristbands, myself included, not initially being let in to the venue itself, but after a few minutes, things were sorted out and we were let in. Four-piece outfit Diana were a mysterious band that I believe quietly surfaced last summer but then started to build some hype around the time I went to CMJ in New York City in October. Diana were apparently at CMJ but I didn't even know who they were. Now I'm more in the know, aware that the band consists of Carmen Elle (Army Girls), Kieran Adams (Warm Myth and Bonjay), Joseph Shabason (Destroyer), and Paul Mathew (Hidden Cameras), and with a background like that and with what little I'd read about them, I was immediately interested even though I don't think I'd heard a note of their music. The band's soulful, electro-pop made me think of a cross between M83 meets Wham, with the band's drum / bass / guitar foundation augmented with their scintillating melodies, supple drum-pad electro-beats, whirring Roland synths and the occasional saxophone. Amidst stage light hues of mostly red and blue, the band were interesting to watch, most of it due to frontwoman Carmen Elle's subtle swagger onstage. I hadn't quite connected with the guitar / drums, pop-rock duo-ism of Carmen's other project Army Girls, but her current participation with Diana, I can wholeheartedly say I enjoyed immensely. They're apparently working on a album to be released this year - as to when it'll be released, isn't known - but they do have a vinyl 12" of their song "Born Again" which is available for order (check out their Soundcloud page below).

Photos: Diana @ Virgin Mobile Mod Club, Toronto (March 20, 2013)
Facebook: Diana
Soundcloud: Diana

Friday, March 29, 2013

Canadian Music Week moves to the month of May for 2014

The music festival that most people love to hate, Canadian Music Week (CMW), have revealed through their Facebook, that next year's festival in 2014 will be be taking place May 6-10. Yes, it is a plus that it will be in a warmer month, but it appears the organizers have chosen to the ignore the myriad of other criticisms that people have of the festival overall.

The fact that CMW took place in March was never really a concern for me; March could be cold, it's Canada, and I think people just have to suck it up. The fact that CMW took place in March meant something to look forward to earlier in the year. I'm more concerned that next year's CMW is about a month before NXNE which takes place in June. The buffer between the festivals will be much shorter and I'm wondering how this will effect artists / bands who consider registering for these festivals. Will the net effect be that NXNE, which seemed to be really hitting it's groove over the last 5 years, will now lose some of that momentum to CMW? I am also concerned with the potential that CMW might overlap with Hot Docs, which traditionally starts at the end of April and into early May, or at the very least, having no recovery time between attending Hot Docs and CMW. I guess we'll have to wait and see how it goes next year.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Second Wave of NXNE announcements plus The National documentary at Hot Docs

The second wave of announcements for the upcoming NXNE festival were just announced. (Check out the first wave of announcements here.) Just spreading the word. Looks to be a decent festival this year. The second wave of announcements for NXNE include:

Social Distortion and Big Boi will each be headlining free shows at Yonge Dundas Square on different nights (Social Distortion on Thursday June 13 and Big Boi on Sunday June 16).

Other acts include Toronto hardcore band Fucked Up, French Canadian singer-songwriter Coeur De Pirate, Hip hop Brooklyn duo Smif N’ Wessun, American alternative hip hop act WHY?, California five-piece The Soft Moon, English guitar-rockers Peace, West Coast melodic punks White Lung, Toronto chillwave group DIANA, B.C. garage punks NĂ¼ Sensae,noise-punk rockers Destruction Unit, Synth popsters Majical Cloudz, UK new wave poppers Still Corners, Copenhagen punks Lower, electro rock from Toronto band Moon King, Improv jazz out of Lean Left, and old school indie rockers Blinker the Star.

Also as already announced, New York City band The National will participate in this year's NXNE by headlining a free show at Yonge Dundas Square on Friday June 14 but if your in the mood for more Berninger and company, you can check out Matt's older brother Tom Berninger's intimate and up-close documentary on the band entitled Mistaken for Strangers as Tom joins them on tour as one of their roadies. The documentary will be at this year's Hot Docs festival in Toronto with screenings as follows:

April 30, 9:15 pm @ The Royal
May 2, 11:59 pm @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema
May 5, 4:00 pm @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Canadian Musicfest Picks (2013)

Another edition of Canadian Musicfest (the music showcase component of Canadian Music Week) quietly kicked off yesterday evening but it gets into full gear tonight. I've gone through the list of artists, skimming bios, listening to audio, checking out videos, what-have-you, and have cobbled together a long list of artists that I found interesting, both from abroad, and from our own fair country / city. On a side note, I must mention that the whole process of 'researching' who I might be interested in seeing is an entirely un-fun experience - it's long, boring, and tiring - but in the end it pays off. Like the Boy Scouts motto goes - be prepared. I've also learned there's an inordinate amount of folk / roots acts taking part in the festival, so many that I almost want to strangle someone, but that's another story. There is no way in heck I'm going to catch all of these artists - I haven't even gotten around to laying out an actual schedule, and I already know there's some overlap with some of my picks. Most of the picks below are artists I've never even heard, and the buzz-factor of bands playing this festival is much lower compared to Toronto's own North By Northeast (which happens in June) but traditionally I've taken this as an opportunity to try to discover new music and hopefully keep the stink quotient to a minimum. Be sure to check out my picks below as well as the individual artist sites where there are audio / video samples:

Aidan Knight (Victoria, BC)
Friday March 22, 2013 @ 1:30PM, Church of the Holy Trinity
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 10:10PM, Horseshoe Tavern

A singer-songwriter and also namesake of a experimental folk band.

Alba Lua (paris, france)
Wednesday March 20, 2013 @ 8:00PM, Czehoski
Thursday March 21, 2013 @ 9:00PM, Silver Dollar

Favourably reviewed on Pitchfork, the band's helium-voiced lead singer leads the trio in their supple brand of warm, hazy pop music.

badbadnotgood (Toronto, ON)
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 12:10AM, Horseshoe Tavern

The young free-jazz, hip-hop influenced, groove trio can almost be classified as festival veterans having played Coachella, NXNE and others and have collobarated with Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean. I've always meant to check them out.

Ballroom Jacks (New York City, New York)
Friday March 22, 2013 @ 10:00PM, Annex Live

Scruffy trio from the streets of New York City (Queens that is) playing music that medls "1960's American girl groups, Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, and the aesthetic of new wave 80's music" in a not so unappealing way.

Beams (Toronto, ON)
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 9:00 PM, Silver Dollar

Multi-harmony, banjo-laden, musical saw twinged, folk and bluegrass.

Boats (Winnipeg, MB)
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 12:00AM, Rancho Relaxo

Comparisons to The New Pornographers, the band's third album of 'hooky pop songs' entitled "A Fairway Full Of Miners" just came out through Kill Rock Stars recently.

Boy (Hamburg, Germany) Updated
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 4:30 PM, HMV (333 Yonge St.), acoustic performance and autograph session
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 11:00PM, El Mocambo (Upstairs)
Sunday March 24, 2013 @ 10:00PM, The Dakota Tavern

Female pop duo founded in 2007, comparisons to Feist, yadda yadda, yadda yadda. That said, what I've heard from them is sunny and charming. And they're cute to boot.

The Breezes (Montreal, QC)
Thursday March 21, 2013 @ 8:30 PM, Horseshoe Tavern

Psych-pop goodness, the band's debut album self-titled album was released independently this past December.

Castle-if/Cell Memory (Toronto, ON)
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 10:00PM, Comfort Zone

These locals might just be too cool for school to me, but I might perhaps satiate my more experimental tastes by taking in their set. What I've heard is sort of trippy.

Charlotte Church (Wales, United Kingdom)
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ :PM, El Mocambo (Downstairs)

Yes, that Charlotte Church. The girl's grown up, still has amazing vocals but now is backed by a band with a much edgier musical approach than you've heard her or ever imagined. Quite spectacular actually.

CHVRCHES (Glasgow, Scotland)
Wednesday March 20, 2013 @ 10:00 PM, Virgin Mobile Mod Club

Electro-pop trio with guitars and synths, reviews on Pitchfork, you know you want to see them. Advanced tickets to their set are sold out but there'll be tickets, and presumably limited wristbands/passes, let in at the door.

Decades (Toronto, ON)
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 9:00 PM, Lee's Palace

I've seen the band a few times recently in an opening slot and was somewhat invigorated from what I'd heard - a lead singer with maybe just a little bit of a Morrissey influence, fronting a band whose music takes an ethereal, post-punk yet melodic direction.

Diana (Toronto, ON)
Wednesday March 20 @ 9:00 PM, Virgin Mobile Mod Club

Apparently a band I should check out according to sites like BlogTo. The band consists of Carmen Elle (Army Girls), Kieran Adams (Warm Myth and Bonjay), Joseph Shabason (Destroyer), and Paul Mathew (Hidden Cameras).

Fine Times (Vancouver, BC)
Friday March 22 @ 9:00 PM, Supermarket
Saturday March 23 @ 2:00 AM, Sneaky Dee's

The duo, their name perhaps a take on the New Order LP "Fine Time", play synth-infused, melodic rock.

First Rate People (Toronto, ON)
Thursday March 21 @ 9:00 PM, Annex Live

The band's first single was reviewed by Pitchfork back in 2010, garnering a favourable review. Been meaning to check them out. They released a new single entitled "You Won't Get This Joke At All" just recently.

Ginger and the Ghost (Sydney, Australia)
Wednesday March 20 @ 10:30 PM, El Mocambo (Upstairs)

I hear traces of Kate Bush in this male/female duo's music, while lead singer Missy has a penchance for visual flamboyance and colourfulness similar to Alison Goldfrapp of Goldfrapp.

Heidi Happy (Lucerne, Switzerland)
Wednesday March 20, 2013 @ 8:00PM, Supermarket
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 10:00PM, Cameron House - Backroom

The Scandinavian singer-songwriter I believe played last year's festival (or was it NXNE?) and has returned, presumably because she likes Toronto. What I've heard falls in line with breezy Scandinavian pop like The Cardigans, good stuff if you're into that.

Jesuslesfilles (Montreal, QC)
Saturday March 23 @ 1:00 AM, Silver Dollar

Franco-phone garage rock, featuring co-lead, male / female vocals. I liked this much better than I expected.

Let's Build Machines (Toronto, ON)
Friday March 22 @ 9:00 PM, Revival

Acoustic folk outfit The Wilderness of Manitoba's Will Whitwham, gets off his electro-pop cajones with this side project, with decent results.

Lowell (Toronto, ON)
Friday March 22, 2013 @ 9:30PM, Lee's Palace
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 12:30PM, Church of the Holy Trinity
Saturday March 23, 2013 @ :PM, The Danforth Music Hall

The GridTO recently named the 21 year old as one to watch, already a fast-rising star in much of Europe at the same time never having even performed at home. The dates above will be her first proper live performances at home. She's a classicaly-trained pianist and her music has drawn comparisons to Lykke Li.

Maica Mia (Toronto, ON)
Friday March 22 @ 9:00 PM, Silver Dollar

Desolate, atmospheric, mood rock comes to mind as a description.

Mount Moriah (Durham, North Carolina)
Wednesday March 20 @ 11:00 PM, Drake Underground

I caught the female-led trio at last year's CMJ festival in New York City where they played a Merge Records showcase.The band's self-titled debut was re-released on Merge last October. The band's music merges American folk & rock music in a very appealing way.

Mozart's Sister (Montreal,QC)
Saturday March 23 @ 1:00 AM, Comfort Zone

From the Pop Montreal site, Mozart's sister are described as the "electro-pop solo project of Shapes & Sizes’s Caila Thompson of indie rock, new wave, 80s pop and a little R&B ting".

Mise En Scene (Winnipeg, MB) Updated
Thursday March 21 @ 11:00 PM, Bovine Sex Club
Friday March 22 @ 5:00 PM, Sonic Boom (782 Bathurst St), in-store (info)
Friday March 22 @ 8:15 PM, Model Citizen (279 Augusta Ave), in-store
Saturday March 23 @ 3:30-6PM, Goorin Bro’s Hat Shop (320 Queen St. West), in-store (info)

Not nearly as surfy as Best Coast nor indebted to 60's girl groups as Dum Dum Girls but yes this female guitar / drums duo will probably appeal to you if you're fans of those bands.

Ocean City Defender (Thunder Bay, ON Canada)
Wednesday March 20 @ 1:00 AM, Cabin 5

Comparisons to M83, and from Thunder Bay of all places. The outfit is the work of multi-instrumentalist K. Preston Merkley, his debut EP The Golden Hour was released in January of 2012.

Persian Rugs (Toronto, ON)
Friday March 22 @ 10:00 PM, Rancho Relaxo

Guitarist Ian Jackson of the defunct Toronto indie band The Diableros, took his guitar chops and formed Persian Rugs, a band whose love for C86 / Sarah Records-influenced indie pop is quite apparent.

Savages (London, England United Kingdom)
Friday March 22 @ 11:10 PM, Horseshoe Tavern
Saturday March 23 @ 12:00 AM, Lee's Palace

British all-female post-punk rock band who were one of the buzz bands of last year's CMJ festival in New York City, who I didn't get a chance to see when I was there. The band's debut album Silence Yourself is due out on Matador Records on May 7. (via Pitchfork)

Un (Montreal, QC)
Thursday March 21 @ 12:00 AM, Drake Underground

The female duo, consisting of Jen Reimer on drums and Kara Keith on vocals and 'other stuff', released their self-titled debut disc this past Valentines Day. Their icy, post-punk synth tunes remind me a little of Ladytron.

Valleys (Montreal,QC)
Saturday March 23 @ 10:00 PM, Lee's Palace

Elements of ambient, dreampop and electropop, they're hard to pin down, but quite interesting overall.

Vimes (Cologne, Germany)
Wednesday March 20, 2013 @ 10:00PM, Gladstone Hotel, (North Ballroom)
Thursday March 21, 2013 @ 10:00PM, Annex Live

Duo consisting of Azhar Syed and Julian Stetter specializing in electro-house music. Chilly Gonzales and Hot Chip are fans. (via Noisey)

Unlike last year's festival and the mild temperatures that the city got, this year looks to be a chilly one, so bundle up, don't forget your earplugs, grab your schedules and have a good festival!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Summer Festivals 2013 - Festival (Toronto)


There's a new music festival in town and it's all-Canadian...almost. CBC Music, the streaming music service of CBC/Radio-Canada, which recently celebrated its first year in operation, will be curating and hosting its own music festival called Festival [doesn't quite roll off the tongue, hmmm?]. It will take place at Echo Beach in Toronto on May 25 on two stages, with doors opening at 2 pm and the music starting at 2:30 pm. Co-headlining the festival are Montreal's Sam Roberts Band and Iceland's Of Monsters and Men(the only non-Canadian act of the lineup). Rounding out the lineup are Kathleen Edwards, Sloan, Jarvis Church, blues/jazz vocalist Shakura S'Aida, country music band Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans, up-and-coming Montreal indie band Half Moon Run, Inuit singer Elisapie, Victoria-based songwriter Aidan Knight, and Kae Sun, a Ghanaian-Canadian singer-songwriter. The festival will also include a special episode of CBC’s The Debaters and Q host Jian Ghomeshi interviewing Of Monsters and Men. Tickets are available through CBC, Facebook, and Live Nation presales this Friday March 16 and through Ticketmaster starting on Saturday. May 25 is sort of an iffy time of the year for a outdoor show and you can only hope it doesn't rain that day. The lineup has the potential to draw a diverse cross-section of people - I don't particularly think the 'kids' will have much interest in this except for Of Monsters and Men, Sloan and Half Moon Run but then again you never know.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Summer Festivals 2013 - Osheaga Music and Arts Festival (Montreal, Quebec)

So the big Canadian summer music festival announcement was made yesterday with the release of the line-up / official poster for Montreal's Osheaga Music and Arts Festival. The festival will take place as usual at the beginning of August, specifically August 2-4, at Parc Jean-Drapeau and tickets go on sale Friday March 15 at noon. The big headliners are British post-punk legends The Cure and current Brit folk favourites Mumfords and Sons. There is a lot of overlap with a bunch of artists already scheduled to have Toronto shows either in the near future or later this spring and summer(eg. Phoenix, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Hot Chip, Pretty Lights, The Gaslight Anthem who are playing the much smaller, and perhaps more desirable, Grove Music Festival in Niagara-on-the-lake on August 3) but there are a bunch of artists also that are so far only scheduled for Osheaga, with no Toronto dates on the horizon including Explosions in The Sky, New Order (well technically they already played Toronto last Fall for two shows) and Kendrick Lamar (who played Sound Academy last September). According to the poster, there are still over 20 artists still to be announced. From a Toronto / Golden Horseshoe perspective, Osheaga may not seem all that essential, but on the other hand it's the biggest music festival in Canada, and in my opinion has a decent enough and diverse line-up to make this worthwhile. And it's an outdoor festival, so if you're fretting that much about the line-up and not capable of enjoying yourself there, then maybe you're no fun.

Facebook: Osheaga
Twitter: Osheaga

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review --- Patti Smith @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Toronto (March 9, 2013)

This past Saturday night, Patti Smith graced the stage of Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto for a spectacular show, the final event in what had been a whirlwind few days for the so-called 'Godmother of Punk'. It started with two extremely sold out shows billed as An Evening of Words and Song with Patti Smith at the Art Gallery Of Ontario (AGO) this past Thursday. The performance was in conjunction with an exhibition of her black-and-white Polaroid photography entitled Patti Smith: Camera Solo. She apparently also signed copies of her 2010 memoir "Just Kids" at the AGO's gift shop at noon for a few hours, prior to her AGO performance, and then on Friday night attended a sold-out screening of the documentary Patti Smith: Dream of Life at Jackman Hall at the AGO. If punk in the mid-70's was her rise to fame, in the decades that followed she became a true renaissance woman, furthering her artistry in not just music, but poetry, writing, and photography. Frankly, I originally wasn't planning to go to any of these events since I wasn't that acquainted with her music but when Collective Concerts, at the last minute, released a handful of tickets for her show at Queen Elizabeth Centre, I decided that as a music fan owed it to myself to check out a musical icon.

The date of the show, March 9, was a meaningful one as it being the date that her friend photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (whose photos of her became the covers for the Patti Smith Group LP) passed away in 1989, and so the show was in tribute to him. Originally this show wasn't even on her schedule, as Patti herself mentioned during the show, but then she decided that rather than go back to New York to play the tribute show, why not just stay in Toronto for it. Of course the audience responded gleefully to this. March 9 was also an important date for Patti as she mentioned it was also the day she met the true love of her live, Fred 'Sonic' Smith (ex-MC5) with whom she had two children, her son Jackson and daughter Jesse, who she performed with this night on guitar and piano respectively. Joined by Tony Shanahan on bass guitar and backup vocals, Patti and her three band mates performed an almost two-hour set of Patti Smith favourites and later songs, including a bunch from her 2012 release entitled Banga. Interspersed throughout the night, Patti graciously offered us some beautiful poetic readings which never felt out of place.

What probably isn't apparent, if you've read this far, was how damn charming and full of humour Patti was. Her love for Fred was on full display as she revealed that she wrote many songs about him. She told us the back story of how she finished writing the lyrics for the verses to her biggest hit "Because The Night", a song for which had been co-written by Bruce Springsteen - the back story involving Patti waiting for a 7:30 phone call from Fred which didn't happen so she decided to listen to the tape that Jimmy Iovine had been bugging her to listen to and see what she could do to complete it. She bantered with the audience on occasion like when she told the audience that she wrote several songs using the D chord, to which an audience member yelled out 'We like D' and to which Patti responded in return, well then we were about to get 6 1/2 minutes of it. Earlier in the night, an audience member giddily yelled out that she wanted to stand up, I guess hoping that would prompt the audience or something [it didn't] and when Patti responded for her to get up herself, the audience member and a friend took a spot near the stage, to which Patti jokingly told them that were standing in the $500 spot.

Musically, it was such a tight performance and combined with the clarity of whomever was working the soundboard that night, it was one of the more satisfying auditory experiences I've had the pleasure of hearing. Her son Jackson was very fluid with his guitar lines while her daughter Jesse exemplified a very solid, melodic performance on piano. Bassist Tony Shanahan was pretty much Patti's right hand man, holding down the low-end with his solid bass guitar work and providing enthusiastic background vocals. Patti showed her versatility showing a vulnerability like on her cover of Neil Young's "It's A Dream" during the encore, and previously during the main set exuding a world-weary snarl on "My Blakean Year". Patti had read poetic passages sporadically throughout the night, one of them being in memory of her friend Robert, which then segued appropriately into her heart-aching song tribute to the late Amy Winehouse entitled "This Is The Girl". When the encore ended with her call-to-arms-of-sorts "People Have The Power" with Patti chanting all the powers that we do have, it felt at that moment that anything was possible. This point in her life, as she at once looks back at her career and moves forward with new artistic endeavours, and to see her perform with both her son and daughter on stage, is undeniably a beautiful thing to see. That some of us were fortunate to witness this, we can hold dear.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Summer Festivals 2013 - Sled Island (Calgary, Alberta)

  photo via ffwd

Sled Island, based in Calgary, is an annual music and arts festival that started in 2007 and has been a festival that has been on my radar since its inception. It consistently has featured an interesting lineup and this year is no exception. Recently the first wave of headliners for this year's festival were announced. Taking place from June 19-22 in Calgary, with its mainstage at Olympic Plaza in downtown Calgary this year's headlingers include The Jesus and Mary China, Explosions In The Sky, Swans, Divine Fits, Joel Plaskett Emergency, Mac DeMarco, Colin Stetson, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and Metz. The guest curators for this year's festival are influential sound artist Tim Hecker and John Dwyer of the Krautrock-inspired garage band, Thee Oh Sees. In addition to these headliners, expect to see more than 250 other bands, filmmakers, artists and comedians? Pretty sweet if I do say so. Enough for a trip to Calgary perhaps? The festival starts a week after Toronto's NXNE ends, so it is perfectly do-able. Festival passes are on sale now with limited individual tickets to shows to be available in the future.

Facebook: Sled Island
Twitter: Sled Island

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Summer Festivals 2013 - Ottawa Bluesfest

Happening from July 4 to 14 in our nation's capital, the Ottawa Bluesfest (sponsored by RBC Royal Bank) will be taking place in the neighbourhood of LeBreton Flats. That the festival is still promoted under the banner of a blues festival is somewhat surprising given how varied the lineup is this year as well as previous years, but so be it. If I lived near Ottawa, I'd most likely hit it up, but given that a bunch of the acts that I'd most like to see (Belle and Sebastia, Neko Case) will be playing Toronto this summer, Ottawa Bluesfest is entirely non-essential for me. On the other hand, I've never actually visited our nation's capital and I have family there who I could stay with. Hmmm. Check out the festival website for full event details.

Facebook: Ottawa Bluesfest
Twitter: Ottawa Bluesfest

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Summer Festivals 2013 - The Grove Music Festival (Niagara-On-The-Lake)

The chill in the air isn't going away and the official start to spring is literally only a few weeks away. Maybe the only way to get through this cold spell is to think about summer, and it appears that summer concert festival organizers have been thinking the same thing with summer concert festival announcements coming on strong today.

The most interesting one so far seems to be the inaugural edition of The Grove Music Festival that will take place in Niagara-On-The-Lake on August 3 at The Commons At Butler’s Barracks National Historic Site, co-presented by indie record label Arts & Crafts and concert promoter Goldenvoice (probably best known for it's association with Coachella). Quite a bit more compact than some multi-day festivals, The Grove Music Festival will feature the likes of Parisian group Phoenix, UK's Hot Chip, American mash-up extraordinaire Girl Talk, up and comers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Gaslight Anthem, Bob Mould, Odd Future standout Earl Sweatshirt, Pretty Lights, Icona Pop, Wavves, Palma Violets, plus local groups, Young Empires and Nightbox. Early bird tickets went on sale this morning but regular priced general admission tickets go on sale March 8 at 10 am.

As the date of the festival overlaps with Montreal's Osheaga Festival and it remains to be seen if the bands I'm most interested in seeing, Phoenix, Hot Chip or Girl Talk, may be playing any Toronto dates, I won't be making up my mind about this festival right away. But it's on my radar.

Facebook: The Grove Fest
Twitter: The Grove Fest

Saint Etienne, Snowblink @ The Opera House, Toronto (October 24, 2012)

Sarah Cracknell of Saint Etienne: photo by Michael Ligon
  Sarah Cracknell of Saint Etienne: photo by Michael Ligon

Well hello blog readers. You still here? Back in October of last year, I finally got to see UK band Saint Etienne live in Toronto. Apparently the last time they'd been to town was a decade earlier. Fortunately, I'd got to check off the band off my bucket list when I saw them live in Barcelona, Spain in 2009 during the Primavera Sound Festival. The band came to town to promote their newest album "Words and Music" (which I still haven't listened to, even though I bought the album at the show, shame on me). Much like the first time I saw the band live, it was really centered around vocalist Sarah Cracknell and her sunny smile, her charming personality, her vivacious dancing and her somewhat demure yet cool vocals. Can't really say anymore other than it was an enjoyable set,nothing more nothing less.

Photos: Saint Etienne, Snowblink @ The Opera House, Toronto (October 24, 2012)

More reviews (proper ones) over at Exclaim, Chromewaves, Indie Kid Vs. Dance Kid, The Panic Manual and The Golder Year.