A battle is coming

What audiences can expect from Winterfest's Battle of the Bands

A battle is coming

Each year, U of T’s Winterfest promises a week of exciting events to invigorate students returning for the winter semester. This year’s Winterfest itinerary includes not only a seemingly infinite number of pancake breakfasts, but also the return of Battle of the Bands, a musical competition that’s free for U of T students. The Varsity sat down with the four finalists who will be competing at Lee’s Palace on Wednesday, January 11 to give students a preview of what they can expect at the show.


Dorval

Drummer Adam Moffat and guitarist Daniel Lewycky are the duo behind Dorval, a rock and blues band that’s previously played at Victoria College and Hart House, as well as other venues across Toronto. “As a two piece, Dorval’s margin for error is small,” they say. This requires them to take their songwriting and rehearsal processes very seriously, carefully constructing a setlist where every song serves a purpose. The audience should expect a “practically acrobatic, energetic live show. Daniel and Adam do all their own stunts.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF DORVAL BAND

PHOTO COURTESY OF DORVAL BAND

 

FOMA

The six members of FOMA met studying in York University’s music program, before keyboardist Cole Mendez transferred to the University of Toronto. They describe their music as a fusion of genres, specifically funk, jazz, neo-soul and RnB. For comparison, they cite Kamasi Washington, the saxophonist and composer who was featured on Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly. This will be their first time playing a show at U of T, and they promise “fresh songs with soaring, improvised solos.” Drummer Jon Catanus adds, “expect to dance. A lot.”

Pictures of Richard

Pictures of Richard began playing together about a year and a half ago, and has since graced the stages of many venues across the GTA, including The Smiling Buddha and Mod Club. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Jonah Kissoon describes the band’s sound as “jazz infused rock.” The band’s writing process is extremely collaborative, and the members enjoy experimenting with meter and tempo changes, inspired by their wide-ranging musical tastes. Says Kissoon, “we’re just four guys who really like music. We think that comes across in live settings where you can watch us do what we love.”

The Accolades

Formed in 2013 as a rock and blues band, The Accolades now describe themselves as a collection of musicians from across Toronto that aim to “bring a new definition to prog punk fusion.” While their singer, guitarist, bassist, and drummer stay consistent, they also regularly call upon other musicians for performances. Wednesday will be their first performance with a full horn section, and the band is excited to take their momentum to the next level for what they promise will be a “high energy, high intensity show” that will lead the audience through “a musical, funky journey.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ACCOLADES

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ACCOLADES

Growing up with The Tragically Hip

A personal reflection on Canada’s iconic band

Growing up with The Tragically Hip

Unlike most music I listen to, I couldn’t possibly say where or when I first heard The Tragically Hip. Which is odd, because I know exactly where I first heard Arcade Fire (my backyard; the eighth grade; trying to skateboard even though I have notoriously poor balance), The Arkells (an overnight summer camp; the ninth grade; eating a very culturally appropriated Chinese stir fry), and pretty much any other musical ensemble that I would eventually label a favourite.

Most Canadians appear to share this problem. Many of us grew up with The Tragically Hip, but few can point to a time when we first acknowledged the band’s presence. The Hip were always around, whether we intended to hear them or not — on CBC radio, in our parents’ CD collection, or in local concert venues. They recorded prolifically and toured regularly. Whenever they performed in Toronto, I would always think, ‘I can go next year, when they inevitably return.’

The winter was peak Hip season for me. As a teenager I spent the colder days in Toronto playing pick-up hockey at the local rinks in my neighbourhood, and I would often listen to the band on the way to and from the makeshift arenas. Skates and stick in hand, I would first listen to “New Orleans Is Sinking” and “Three Pistols”—two songs expertly crafted to act as pre-game pump-ups—and then “50 Mission Cap.” It’s The Hip’s hockey song—a song about Bill Barilko, a former defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs who died on a fishing trip shortly after winning the Stanley Cup.

It was no coincidence that my interest in Canadian history peaked around this age, either. The Hip were meticulous chronicler’s of Canadian history. Early education failed to instill in me the excitement of our home-and-native-land’s vibrant past, but a rock band whose eccentric lead singer sang about the Group of Seven and Quebec separatism certainly did.

Playing in a few bands throughout high school, Downie quickly became an inspiration to me and to many of my fellow bandmates. His poetry was far better than ours, but inspired us to see the value in our immediate surroundings as potential musical subjects. We didn’t have to sing about California; Orillia would work just fine.

He found value in the crevices of Canadian lore where others failed to look. Few may have known the small town of Bobcaygeon before Downie deemed it worthy of a song, and few may have remembered the wrongful rape and murder conviction of David Milgaard before the story was archived in “Wheat Kings.” But Downie did, and we’re better for it.

During The Hip’s early years, Downie developed a cult following of sorts. Prairie kids and ‘hockey bros’ would flock to Hip shows donning their team jerseys as coats of arms. Something about Downie, perhaps his upbringing in Kingston or his fondness for the pseudo-national sport, must have struck a chord amongst them. He never seemed anything like these people, though. Nothing about his lyrics appeared to purposely tap into their culture, and rarely would he address the youthful masses that attended the shows. Instead, he would lose himself in the songs —twitching, dad dancing, and spewing stream-of-consciousness nonsense like the victim of an exorcism gone wrong.

For many Canadians, Downie is a familiar — if not comforting — presence. When it appeared as though all Canadian rockstars were the poor man’s Bruce Springsteen or a wannabe Tom Petty, Downie was unabashedly himself, ranting about Killer Whale tanks and double suicides in the shadow of a hit-churning mega-industry down south. He and the band gave Canadians something to be proud of — something to point to when the calibre of our artistic product came into question.

That’s why the late-May announcement of Downie’s diagnosis and the subsequent implication of The Hip’s numbered days felt like an irremediable stab wound in the collective solar plexus. Downie has brain cancer —glioblastoma, to be exact — and there’s no known cure. Ninety per cent of victims live for less than five years upon diagnosis and, in the meantime, are subject to early onset dementia and countless other side-effects.

For the band, it’s an end when there shouldn’t have been an end in sight. For Downie, we can only hope that modern medicine prevails, and that he’ll have the good fortune of surviving despite the odds. It’s a daunting assignment, but as we’ve seen throughout the past few months, it’s one that he’ll undoubtedly approach with will and determination.

And grace, too.

“The show will go on while there is money to be made”

Considering the impact of summer music festivals in broader context

“The show will go on while there is money to be made”

Sitting cross-legged in the dry, dirt-covered grass, my friends and I, along with other music-lovers, waited to hear The Killers — a band that spawned dance-inspired American classics over the last dozen years. We were near the main stage, the closest we’d get that weekend in Oro-Medonte, a town between Barrie and Orillia. The final day of facing heat, exhaustion, and constant dehydration had arrived. Nostalgia-seekers had shelled out $500 or more to hear Brandon Flowers shout to a crowd that would have otherwise filled nearly every seat in the Rogers Centre.

Excitement refused to dwindle from the previous nights, which saw the same stage stomped on by LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire – two other bands that defined a generation. The three made up the headliners of WayHome, a music festival in its sophomore year. Drawing in a reported 40,000 attendees this year, many festival-goers sought to satisfy their wanderlust by camping under the steamy summer sun.

It is interesting, however, that we rarely consider the long-term impact of music festivals after the tents are packed and the bands go home for the year. Fast-forward to today, weeks after the event, numerous patrons who had previously lounged around their tents, sipping on beers or finding refuge in the shade underneath cars, are battling cold-like symptoms or worse.

For those who consider the immediate side effects of summer music festivals such as WayHome to be worth it, attention should also be paid to the impact of festivals on a grander scale.

Firstly, the economic impact of music festivals is considerable. The American leg of the Bonnaroo festival annually lures over 80,000 concert-goers to Manchester, Tennessee. In 2012, the city saw an indirect contribution of $51.1 million to the state, with $27.2 million brought to Coffee Country’s business. Jobs flourished and businesses witnessed soaring revenues due to the burgeoning impact of festival buzz. NXNE boasts that its 2014 festival brought $55 million to the City of Toronto. More centralized festivals such Field Trip, TIME Fest, and the Toronto Urban Roots Festival regularly bring in cash.

For those who consider the immediate side effects of summer music festivals such as WayHome to be worth it, attention should also be paid to the impact of festivals on a grander scale.

This is not to mention the reasons why people seek out festivals in the first place. Thousands will gather to escape from the real world, indulging in choral harmonies that demand all our energy. At WayHome, pushing through minor setbacks in the form of security lapses and drunken buffoonery, it was clear that the weekend was one to make memories. Memories of the spinning disco ball behind an aged James Murphy, or the mistakenly-but-appropriately-delayed fireworks during Arcade Fire’s encore of “Wake Up,” are memories that festival-goers are unlikely to forget soon.

As an attendee, without considering the cons of WayHome, all that I could see while at the festival was the illuminated faces of those whose dreams were coming true.

But while WayHome hit the right notes by scheduling a strong lineup, creating gorgeous stages, and featuring non-musical attractions, it also lacked in some areas. If you are not a fan of poutine, pulled pork sandwiches, or Molson beer, there was not much else to live off of for the entire weekend. Attendees were forced into opting into RIFD wristbands, a cashless system that came with a processing fee. Showering was expensive, water stations were scarce on certain days, there were no recycling bins to be seen, and security would change their policies at the gate without advance notice to festival-goers. None of these things appear on Instagram feeds or Snapchat stories, but they do culminate in unpleasant experiences for many festival-goers.

Driving the pegs for the tent down into the rocky soil was the first challenge of the weekend, yet this and other minor inconveniences are nothing compared to the more meaningful issues behind festivals like WayHome.

I would learn only later that ancestors of the Huron-Wendat Nation had used the same site at Burl’s Creek up until 1650, where villages and burial sites were once present. A protest I had heard about only after everything had wrapped brought to light this controversy of organizers using sacred First Nations land. WayHome organizers had allegedly used more than the permitted 92 acres to operate the festival, which resulted in fines of $200,000 last year alone.

WayHome organizers had allegedly used more than the permitted 92 acres to operate the festival, which resulted in fines of $200,000 last year alone.

Members of grassroots group Save Oro strongly oppose music festivals using this land, believing some degree of archaeological investigation should be required before any special events are held. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport have also weighed in, stating in a letter dated May 19, 2016, to the Township of Oro-Medonte that, “Temporary uses such as overnight camping, parking, concession booths…pose risks to potential archaeological sites.”

Local residents of Oro-Medonte and members of West Oro Ratepayers Association also stood in solidarity with the Huron-Wendat Nation, claiming any construction would degrade the environment, bringing in traffic, noise pollution, and rowdiness within the community. They weren’t wrong. The township received close to one hundred phone calls of complaints over the course of the weekend, many made by the same citizens.

Festival impact on the surrounding community certainly requires thorough examination, but unearthing the controversies behind music festivals ensures that things get even murkier than the mud on the fields. It is evident that a tremendous amount of people are disappointed by these operations, and for good reason. Yet, with the increasingly popular trend of music festivals bound to reach new heights in 2017, only one thing is certain – the show will go on while there is money to be made.

 

Shaq Hosein is a fourth-year student at St. Michael’s College studying English and Cinema Studies. He is The Varsity’s Video Editor.

In review: Luminato’s Unsound

Sonic abstraction and hallucinatory effects comprise this year's Unsound

In review: Luminato’s Unsound

Unsound is an amorphous, genre-spanning festival that fractures the idea of what belongs inside a club.

While only in its second year in Toronto, Unsound began in 2003 in Krakow, Poland and has become an annual event. The festival marks an emerging sensibility in Toronto’s musical community. Sponsored by Luminato Festival, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, Unsound took place at the Hearn Generating Plant, June 10-11.

The various visual installations that were featured throughout the power plant sought to esteem the event beyond being a space where debauchery and delirium are encouraged.Interactive audiovisual accompaniments were paired with several performances to create a conceptual experience.

The fusion of technology and sound manufactured a multi-sensory environment for audience members. Several artists, including Roly Porter, presented strobe lights that produced borderline hallucinatory effects. During the pair’s performance, audience members were asked to close their eyes in order to “hear with them” — the intention being to hear with your eyes rather than ears.

Their strobe lights were almost blinding, deliberately so, in order to facilitate a “light show beneath the lids.” Later in the night, Evian Christ closed the main stage’s set. He paired his laser light show with fog machines to obscure audience members, and provide a more solitary environment in which audience members could experience club music.

The industrial setting augmented the nostalgic and authentic revival of rave culture. Despite being housed in a generating plant, abstract forms of electronic music, such as Tim Hecker’s noise, were tolerated by an audience whose palates have been limited to more conventional soundscapes.

Genres that were heard were not exclusively limited to sonic abstraction — rather, in the side room, audience members were invited to watch as Olivia Ungaro and Aurora Halal, among others, performed sets rooted in techno. That said, even these artists used technical finesse to deconstruct canonic genres, and manipulated their qualifying parameters into new forms. Aurora Halal produced a live demonstration of how analog performance can yield the same perfection as a digitally produced track.

The artists on the lineup ensured that the sounds heard payed homage to the traditions of their respective genres, while paving a path for the future of the clubbing experience.

Toronto is small enough as a music city to be monopolized by management and public representation brands. These brands not only own their talent, but own the spaces in which their talent will perform. The monoculture that emerges from this hinders the growth of more experimental ecologies of genres that could flourish in a metropolis like ours. Unsound is a step against this monoculture, and a step in the right direction.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

CMW does DIY

Do-It-Yourself bands strive to be different

CMW does DIY

Ripped tights and public drinking had a moment during Canadian Music Week (CMW). With headliners like SWMRS, Foreign Diplomats, and Dilly Dally, the festival shed a spotlight on punk rock and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture.

The CMW industry conferences and evening performances were characterized by an unrelenting spirit of youth and DIY mentality. The conferences were hosted at the Sheraton Hotel, and they detailed practical tips for independent artists, such as touring ethics and etiquette and engagement via social media tools. Moguls and musicians alike advocated for individuality, authenticity, and an objection to mass-production — an unusual notion to encounter in the modern music industry.

Staple venues across the city like Sneaky Dee’s, Bovine Sex Club, and Lee’s Palace, proved to be the warmest hosts to many emerging DIY bands.

The DIY aesthetic of tech-dependent genres, like electronica and hip-hop, emerges primarily through manipulating technology into instruments, such as laptops or digital sample kits available online. Referred to as ‘bedroom producers,’ these artists can record and publish their music autonomously.

River Groves is a high-energy punk band from Streetsville in the Peel Region that participated in CMW this year. According to bassist Brian, the only expectation a DIY band should have of itself is a collaborative effort between band members. As a band, the members “act as a producer in tandem” with their studios.

Kevin, the vocalist, adds that DIY bands should consider looking to professional agencies for booking or management only when they can “no longer balance the managerial and the business side of [the] music with the art of it.” An inability to “coordinate scheduling and band practises” or to fulfill other basic, day-to-day responsibilities would signal the changing need for a band.

Hometown glory and building strong relationships with the local community can prove to be more beneficial than opting for professional marketing.

For now, River Groves is largely self-sufficient. “We book our own shows. We usually drop our own merch. We take care of all that stuff,” says Kevin.

Promotion is often the most coveted perk from an independent band’s perspective. Hometown glory and building strong relationships with the local community can prove to be more beneficial than opting for professional marketing.

According to Brian, “Independent artists can get away with a lot for a while. I think they really should — they could and they should be DIY for as long as possible, instead of rushing into a management deal or a record deal that they don’t really need.” Kevin adds, “There’s a respect level too, when you’re doing your own booking, promotion. People really notice that.”

Bike Thiefs, another band from Peel, consists of Kris Pandeirada, Andrew Fasken, and Marko Woloshyn. While the band knows people in the commercial industry, they “haven’t for the past two releases tried to court any labels. We’ve tried to do ourselves.” The label system today relies heavily on exposure.

To Marko, “it depends on what you’re signing up for. Some labels will build a pop star, others will just take care of distribution and PR. Some labels will help you build tours. It depends on how much money the label has, and how much they want to put into you — risk.”

For some DIY bands, signing to a label is no more than attaching to a reputable name and receiving no more assistance beyond a commercial boost. “We’ve seen friends of ours sign to a label… it’s so far proved to be pretty fruitless. I don’t know the intricacies of it but it doesn’t look like they’ve helped them that much,” says Marko.

The River Groves at CMW./Corinne Przybyslawski

The River Groves at CMW./Corinne Przybyslawski

In the case of Bike Thiefs, each member works part-time for recording money. Every dollar earned by band members goes directly back into the band. With recording falling directly on their shoulders, word-of-mouth and a personalized approach to marketing become crucial. Bike Thiefs also depends on their online presence and a keen awareness of media consumption for  promotion.

They prefer to concentrate their recordings into small releases. “The EP thing is the smartest route, because people don’t really have huge attention spans…To a lot of people, we’re still going to be making a first impression, so you want your best songs, and you want the smallest package, the most easily digestible package for your song.”

The band utilizes in-house graphic design skills to create, distribute, and maximize profit from merchandise. They use silkscreen printing to press graphics onto shirts they purchase in bulk. This reduces the costs that the band would otherwise be invoiced for when outsourcing and printing. In punk culture, manufacturing garments is a part of the genre’s tradition, emphasizing individualism and a rejection of mainstream fashion.

In the case of DIY, successful bands have to take a more personal approach to booking, recording, and distributing their music. Since many expenses revolve around procuring, mastering, and recording live instruments, DIY bands require a more hands-on approach than other genres, with more practical and financial investment from their band members.

On rock and roll, not gender roles

A conversation with Death Valley Girls

On rock and roll, not gender roles

At Canadian Music Week, an event that brings together hundreds of musicians in Toronto for concerts at venues across town, several all-women bands showcased their musicianship.

On Thursday night, Mis-en-Scene and No Joy emerged onstage at Velvet Underground to deliver impressive performances. Mis-en-Scene, founded by vocalist/guitarist Stefanie Blondal Johnson and drummer Jodi Dunlap, powered through each song with uninhibited grittiness.

No Joy gave a similarly rapturous live performance, replicating the thick walls of fuzz heard on their album More Faithful. The heady, buzzing rendition of their song “Moon in My Mouth” enabled the entire band to get into a groove where the sound took centre stage.

We weren’t inspired to do it. We were forced to do it. We really had no choice. It was a bright flash of light and I felt a tickling sensation somewhere I won’t even mention.

Death Valley Girls is a garage rock band from Los Angeles that confounds audiences and shatters critics’ misperceptions about women in rock; its members are Bonnie, Larry, Nicole, and Laura (aka “The Kid”). The band’s sludgy, psychedelic riffs combined with the Riot grrrl attitude of Bonnie’s onstage asides made like a poison-dipped arrow aimed at the rock establishment’s heart.

During our interview, the band opened up about their musical inspirations, and the pressure of being women on the rock scene.

 

The Varsity: What inspired you to make music together?

Death Valley Girls: We weren’t inspired to do it. We were forced to do it. We really had no choice. It was a bright flash of light and I felt a tickling sensation somewhere I won’t even mention.

Bonnie: Then we woke up in my room all together holding hands.

TV: Since you’re from LA, I was wondering if anything about the musical history of that city or the scenes located there influenced your sound starting out?

DVG: Rodney’s English Disco has a huge impact on our sound.

Larry: All the LA sixties punk scene, it’s all in there.

TV: What do you think is the biggest challenge of being a band right now? Would it be social media or managing fan relationships?

Bonnie: I think the worst thing is knowing that warp speed is something that’s about to happen but we can’t have it right now. Also a challenge is not being in the band and any time we’re not playing shows. We could be in a band all the time.

TV: Do you think things are getting better for women in rock and roll, or do you there’s still a lot of sexism in the industry?

Bonnie: I’d like to plead the fifth here because I was perfectly fine on the women train, everything was fine until last night. Last night we had our most sexist situation of all where someone tried telling us ‘how cute we were’ and they tried giving us constructive criticism — a very big band — on how we could be better if only we played up the ‘girl thing.’ And usually we don’t like to talk about this topic.

TV: Right, I didn’t even want to bring it up first.

Bonnie: We believe in equality, we don’t care about who or what you are. We believe that everyone shouldn’t worry about their gender. Last night, something happened, and we might take this to the top. We’re not fighters, but we may have to fight.

Out of the class and onto the stage

These standout U of T artists captivated audiences at this year's Canadian Music Week

Out of the class and onto the stage

Canadian Music Week is one of the most diverse concert series in the country, showcasing up-and-coming artists alongside national juggernauts like Lights and Tegan and Sara. Among the hundreds of talented performers that took to stage across Toronto last week, several acts included students from U of T, proving that there’s more to campus life than lectures and sleep deprivation.

Good Kid
What do computers, video games, and indie rock all have in common? They’re the three things that make Toronto based indie outfit Good Kid the talented, jovial group that they are.

Climbing its way up to Spotify’s Canadian Indie charts, Good Kid’s track “Nomu” is a banger if there ever was one. Upbeat and fronted with Nick Frosst’s beefy, commanding vocals, it’s no wonder why the track has cleaned up online. But how does the band fare live?   

Good Kid’s live show is backed by arsenal of equally catchy tunes. Several match the energy of “Nomu” while others delight by slowing things down and letting Frosst’s vocals shine. But it’s not all smiles and laughs. Some songs delve into more sombre territory, leading Frosst to jokingly announce, “We’re Bad Kid now,” before kicking off a darker tune.

On Friday, May 13, the band premiered the single “Atlas,” which guitarist Jacob Tsafatinos says has the same catchy and fast-paced style of their first release. Whereas the release of “Nomu” had only been shared among the band’s peers, Tsafatinos believes, “this is our chance to try doing it right… We’re going to be hitting up every publication / blog we can think of … just promoting it as much as possible and see where that goes.”

Required Listening: Nomu

Beach Creep
Andy Friesen is hardly the creep his band name would imply. He is soft spoken, cheerful, and kind, but onstage he adopts an entirely different persona. When the music starts, the timid individual who asks the crowd to inch a bit closer to the stage is taken over by the creature who belts out his songs with ferocity and unencumbered spirit.

Musically, the group emits the sound of young, unchained kids who love to get loud, while vocally Friesen paints the picture of a tired, haunted soul. “Gone to the Garden,” for instance, is a fast-paced and nostalgic track that stirs up feelings of uplifting melancholy.

Beach Creep doesn’t aim to be a technical band, but the occasional syncopated rhythm or tempo shift led by drummer Mitch Clark impressed, showing off their musical chops and tightness as a unit.

When a musician’s art can bring out a side of them unseen in any other circumstance, it’s something truly worth noting. Music can have a transformative effect on people, and a Beach Creep show is certainly one way to see firsthand how musicians become consumed by their craft.

Required Listening: Gone to the Garden


Young Glass
Formerly The Writer’s Society, the indie pop quintet Young Glass have been performing together longer than most college bands, and, as a result, offer a sound that is noticeably more mature than many of their contemporaries.

Oliver Darling’s vocals are impressive yet subdued. Complimenting these melodies is Sophie Cameron’s cello playing, a much appreciated contribution to the band’s sound that adds a beautiful layer of longing to songs like “Haunt.” The guitar, bass, and drums powered by Matheson, Ferarro-Hallett, and Williams, respectively, each add a layer of individualism to the forefront of the their sound.

Live at the 300 Club, Young Glass gave a performance that matches the sound they have crafted on studio recordings for the most part. In some categories the live show outdoes the recordings —  the drums hit harder, for instance while at other times the sounds from the recording aren’t properly emulated; the cello parts are tragically drowned out by the bass guitar when they deserve to be heard in full.

Young Glass has gathered quite a large local following in their five years together and after hearing them play it’s not hard to figure out why. They plan to release a full length album sometime in 2016, but until then select songs are available on the group’s SoundCloud page.

Required Listening: Haunt

 

Canadian Music Week is here, and it’s loaded with indie bands

From Tegan and Sarah to The Sheepdogs, there's a lot in store for this year's CMW lineup

Canadian Music Week is here, and it’s loaded with indie bands

Spring is in the air and festival season comes with it. Canadian Music Week (CMW) kicks off the season from May 2 to May 8 and will feature over 1,000 bands at venues all across the city. The festival will include some of Canada’s best known artists, while showcasing its thriving indie scene. International acts from all over the world will also be in attendance, allowing for an eclectic festival-going  experience.

Featuring various events and performances, CMW includes a large array of Torontonian acts. This year will include Lights, ColinResponse, Wild Rivers, and The Dying Arts, amongst many others.

With Hamilton’s reputation for fostering talent, it’s no surprise that many featured artists hail from there. Coyote Black, Forever Distracted, and Billy Moon will be performing, to name just a few.

There is definitely no shortage of artists representing Canada, which includes  Vancouver/Montreal’s Tegan and Sara and Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs. Even so, some buzzworthy non-Canadian talent includes X Ambassadors and Wild Nothing.

Over 60 venues will play host to the festival this year; The Drake Underground, Sneaky Dee’s and Supermarket are some of the festival staples that will be hosting performances throughout the week.

General admission and VIP wristbands are available, which allow entry into the venues for the entire week. Alternatively, if you are just looking to catch a certain artist, tickets are available for each daily showcase at individual venues.

Music Docs at HotDocs is also happening until May 8, which is co-presented by CMW. It serves as the film portion of the festival that focuses on music-related documentaries. In addition to music and film, CMW Comedy features a spotlight on Canadian comics from around the country.