Third time's a charm—here's what you should see on day three of CMW.
It’s once, twice, three times the CMW, and here’s what’s going on tonight.
Because their name is BADBADNOTGOOD, one could be forgiven for thinking that this jazz/rap trio, born out of the Humber jazz program, are very, very bad and not at all good. Then there’s, you know, the pig mask thing. But wouldn’t you know it, the band’s Island of Dr. Moreau style of music has members Alex Sowinski, Matt Tavares, and Chester Hansen grabbing the cover of this week’s NOW as Toronto’s biggest, hottest, rockiest, moshiest party-makers. Acts like BADBADNOTGOOD are the poster children for the digital age we live in—friends goof off on camera (like when the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a jazz version of Odd Future’s “AssMilk”), people recognize its amazingness online, and fun and creativity turns into international praise and a real, promising career.
Go if: You’re interested in a mosh pit that’s a bit classier than normal.
Local purveyors of dark, sticky swamp blues, Catl are described on their CMW artist page as sounding similar to “dead Mississippi blues guys,” but that’s only part of the story. More accurately, they are an amalgam of Americana soul and rebel sensibility—purveyors of tunes that make a person think of spitting in defiance and slugging down Jack, though maybe not in that order. The trio, comprised of keyboard player/percussionist/vocalist Sarah Kirkpatrick, drummer Johnny LaRue, and singer/guitarist Jamie Fleming, may not be a household name, but in a relatively short amount of time they’ve garnered some solid accolades, including winning 2009′s Toronto Blues Society Talent Search and a couple of residencies at the Dakota Tavern. Not too shabby for a bunch of ex-punk rockers with a penchant for bourbon-tinged nostalgia.
Go if: You woke yourself up last night by sleep-speaking the words “Kentucky sour mash.”
What else can be said about Slash? The eternally top-hatted virtuoso guitar player has collaborated with seemingly everyone over the course of his career, and he’s managed to stay friendly with pretty much all but the one person with whom he had the most success: Axl Rose. After carving out a legacy of jams with Guns ‘N Roses that will forever live on in football stadiums and easy-listening Sheryl Crow covers, the flesh and blood muppet has moved on to add titles like author and actor to his already impressive resume.
For those hoping to witness a dramatic GNR reunion at CMW—or any time soon for that matter—it may be best to skip this show. But for anyone looking to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s best guitar players in person, this is a rare opportunity that is not to be missed. He will be appearing with vocalist Myles Kennedy, the frontman for rock group Alter Bridge who must now carry the cumbersome (and quite unfair) burden of not being Axl.
Go if: You want to be “that jerk” who shouts out ultimately unfulfilled requests for “November Rain” all night long.
Toronto’s Revelstoke is a bit of an enigma: arresting harmonies and soaring, symphonic arrangements, achieved with little more than a mandolin, a banjo and a slide guitar. Befitting Revelstoke’s celebration of spaces as living phenomena, its sound evokes a natural grandeur that elevates a tiny town like Revelstoke, British Columbia over even Toronto, which is a big part of the idea at the heart of the project. Perhaps that’s the operative word: elevate. Andrew Seale, the man in this one-man band, set out to celebrate what he found during a trip to the west coast a few years ago. In the world enshrined by Seale, trees sway, dance and laugh, and the Rockies themselves are the hands clapping to the music that Revelstoke creates. Is the town the music? The musician? If it’s the latter, what we have here is a study in the transcendental.
Go if: You like the idea of the most made from the least, dialed up to eleven.
It seems like the more obsessed a band is with a certain era’s sound and style, the more obsessed we become with them. That happened in 2010 when Zeus released their debut album Say Us, which was joyously influenced by the bouncy rock of the late ’60s. Their latest, Busting Visions, is a step forward into the ’70s, but it still has their signature fun style, and that’s sure to carry over into their live show. Catch them at The ‘Shoe tonight with fellow Arts & Crafts artists Snowblink, Gold & Youth, Eight and a Half, The Darcys, and a secret guest.
Go if: The 2010s have got you down.
Saul Williams apparently hates being labelled, which is good, because in his case, it’s not so easy. He’s a multi-faceted artist whose writing and acting have earned him acclaim. His music fuses hip-hop, soul and industrial sounds, and is steeped in the lyricism that launched his career as a slam poet. With such a varied skill set, his CMW show could take any number of directions—but we’re crossing our fingers for a high-energy, booty-shaking affair, which he certainly has the ability to provide.
Go if: You like a man with balls and brains.
Fresh from impressing audiences at SXSW, Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings are one act to which you might be tempted to bring earplugs. But don’t—that would only dull the experience. The group plows through songs at maximum volume, unleashing their rock fury like trained martial artists delivering relentless barrages of carefully considered punches and kicks. Raw, explosive, and guttural, there is an audible abandon that somehow manages to coalesce into a ramshackle vitality rather than the utter noise you may hear at first listen.
Though the group began as a solo project in the mind and basement of Dylan Baldi, Cloud Nothings have now expanded into a full-fledged band, even if their signature lo-fi post-grunge sound sometimes gives their performances the feel of a one-man show. Their newest album, Attack On Memory, was released in January, earning many raves, including some from the all-too-important website Pitchfork.
Go if: You don’t mind sacrificing your eardrums for the sake of a stellar rock show.
Cadence Weapon, aka Edmonton’s Rollie Pemberton, is something of a styistic sponge when it comes to hip-hop. The Edmonton-born rapper cites everything from Basement Jaxx to Daft Punk as having laid the groundwork for his style—an aggressively tight delivery that weaves effortlessly between high-energy beats and downtempo chill. It’s a unique way of doing things that inevitably invites associations with acts like Shout Out Out Out Out, whose 2009 release “Coming Home” notably featured a Cadence Weapon cameo. Also, Pemberton is really tight with Final Fantasy, otherwise known as Owen Pallett, and any friend of Pallett’s is a friend of ours.
Go if: The idea of having your face melted off appeals.
What better to end a raucous Friday evening than a gentle goodnight kiss from Sheezer, Toronto’s favourite all-lady Weezer cover band? These gals play the Pinkerton and Blue Album hits you know and love—none of that super-sad, space-age crap that came later—and are very adorable while doing so. Sheezer: If it feels good, do it. (Full disclosure: Sheezer member Robin Hatch writes for Torontoist, but she definitely did not ask us to say that her band is really cool.)
Go if: You like Weezer, and also girls.
The Cowgirl Choir’s self-description of their sound (“It’s like being in church, except you get to drink”) is sort of true—it is, after all, a choir, and performances do tend to be held in booze-friendly digs—but even the most shamelessly youth-pandering megachurch choir probably wouldn’t dare touch Dolly Parton, the likes of whom The Cowgirl Choir have happily covered on more than one occasion. The country-singing choral ensemble, comprised of 10-or-so women at any given time, were a last-minute scheduling write-in at NXNE last year; after their performance, legendary music booker Dan Burke approached the group to let them know they’d been a highlight of his night. Now, at CMW, listeners will have a chance to experience what Burke was on about: great tunes, wicked harmonies, and (probably) very little plaid. Yee haw.
Go if: You wear your heart on your cowboy boots.