From March 9 to 13, Torontoist is covering the crap out of Canadian Music Week, with daily concert and film previews, reviews of the latest action, words with your favourite and soon-to-be-favourite bands, and more.
Digits, a.k.a. Alt Altman, plays the El Mocambo tonight as part of CMW. Photo by Bryanna Reilly.
Alt Altman’s been championing a lot of local and Ontario-based bands with an electronic bent this past year, as the co-host and co-programmer of Silent Shout, a monthly showcase series dedicated to indie acts you can groove to. Of course, like a stand-up comedy host who keeps the show moving along, he’s also been taking the opportunity to polish his own solo act as Digits, the “house” (no pun intended) late-night act for the series. Silent Shout’s been attracting appreciative partiers with headliners like Light Fires, Bocce, and Put The Rifle Down, plus consistently great DJ-ing for the dance party that continues late into the night. Recent licence issues at host bar Teranga put a damper on the past two month’s shows, but for CMW, Altman intends to come out in a big way with his solo act (while still giving a shout out to plenty of Silent Shout alumni).
Why should we see you at CMW?
I play a combination of indie pop and electronic music, something there’s not too much of at this year’s festival. If you’re into dance-y electronic acts with soft vocals like Hot Chip, Junior Boys or The Whitest Boy Alive, we’re in short supply, so come check me out! I’m on early at 9 p.m., so you can still catch your favourite headliner elsewhere, or stick around to see Kidstreet and Madrid, two other great reasons to come to the El Mocambo on Saturday.
What’s your favourite Toronto venue, and why?
I’d guess I’d say the Polish Combatants Hall. There aren’t often shows there, but it’s such a fun and kind-of strange place to see a show. Also: giant Polish beers.
What’s your favourite Toronto band, and why?
Austra. Katie Stelmanis has always been one of my favourite Toronto acts, but her full-band formation as Austra has taken things to another level. Incredible operatic vocals over pounding beats and arpeggiated synths.
What are you excited about seeing/doing and adamant about avoiding at CMW?
Well, besides Austra, I’m most excited about seeing Powers and Foxfire on Friday at the Comfort Zone. Powers aren’t on a lot of people’s radar yet because they have yet to officially release any music, but they make noisy electronic pop that’s really cutting edge and put on a killer live show. And Foxfire‘s just the best goddamn disco band in town, about to release their first album and blow up huge.
I’m planning to avoid the multitude of bands with mainstream industry aspirations desperate to capture the attention of the various honchos in town. I mean, all power to them, they can do their thing, but I won’t be going near it.
What are the best and worst things about these monster-sized music festivals?
There’s something to be said for having lots of selection to choose from, and a wristband to wander from place to place. It’s a great opportunity to find out about new artists from across the country and to meet a lot of interesting people. Extended bar hours are also a great thing.
But as with all industry festivals, mediocre bands with money and publicity behind them tend to overshadow all the great underground Canadian acts that are the true talent of the festival. Some of this year’s CMW headliners are tired has-beens that I thought had gone away forever.