Canadian Music Fest 2012 Picks

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All throughout Toronto, musicians, music fans and journalists are gearing up for Canadian Music Week. Starting on Wednesday, we’ll pretend like our schedules are as gruelling as they were for those who went to South by Southwest last week. (Hint: they are not.) But enjoying live music for the better part of a week is the dream for most who go to these things. It takes some work going through the schedule to figure out what’s worth your time, so let me do it for you. Here are my picks for this year’s Canadian Music Week.

Here’s the full schedule.


Vancouver’s sweet pop rock dudes Redgy Blackout will bring the energy to Mitzi’s Sister at 10:30 PM.


At the Hard Luck Bar, Samantha Savage Smith (11 PM) and Sun Wizard (12 AM) will get all lovely and sunshiny even though it will be the earliest of morning by the time their sets are over.

Montreal’s electro mad scientist Armen at the Bazaar (12 AM) will bring his lively one-man performance to Rancho Relaxo.


Young Rival (8:15 PM) and Jenn Grant (9 PM) will get your feet tapping and body swaying at the (refusing to call it Virgin Mobile) Mod Club.


Or if you’re looking for more ruckus, Montreal’s Reversing Falls (8 PM) and Toronto’s Topanga (12 AM) and Sandman Viper Command (2AM) will be pelting high fives everywhere.

Adam and the Amethysts (8 PM) open up a nice, full night at the El Mocambo before Ariane Moffatt (9 PM) Half Moon Run (10 PM), Galaxie (11 PM), Martha Wainwright (12 AM) and The Dears (1 AM). If you want to get into this show, you’ll have to get there early.

Another stellar lineup will be at Parts & Labour with one of Dork Shelf’s former Band of the Month – Army Girls (10:30 PM) and Brian Borcherdt’s (of Holy Fuck) new band Dusted (11 PM), Rituals (12 AM) and Little Girls (1 AM).

Groovy Winnipeggers Royal Canoe will hit up the Drake at 9 PM performing before These Electric Lives (10 PM).


Lake Forest, the soothing solo project of The Wilderness of Manitoba’s front man Will Whitwham, will headline the Cameron House’s back room at 1 AM.


Half Moon Run definitely will give us enough chances to see them this weekend, and one should be taken. If you don’t catch them Thursday, another shot’s on Friday at the Drake at 10 PM.

Great Bloomers (8:30 PM) and Dinosaur Bones (9:30), new label mates, will rock out at the El Mocambo.


Parlovr is back for another Toronto festival, and if you’re like me and have missed them the last few times after North by Northeast 2009, you’re going to want to see them again upstairs at the El Mocambo at midnight.

Or if you’re not a Parlovr fan, perhaps American buzz band Cloud Nothings will tickle your fancy at midnight at Lee’s.

Arts & Crafts has a pretty swell lineup at the Horsehoe, with Snowblink (9 PM), Gold & Youth (10 PM), Eight & a Half (11 PM), The Darcys (12 AM), Zeus (1AM) and a secret guest (2AM).

Up Spadina, you can get nostalgic with Patti Cake (9 PM) and The Pow Wows (10 PM) at the Silver Dollar.


And pre-Sheezer’s usual Sneaky Dee’s craziness (3 AM), catch Paradise Animals at 11 PM.


If you can get into the Indies at the Royal York, you’ll be able to catch short sets by the Pack A.D. (8 PM), Young Empires (8:20 PM), Treble Charger (8:40 PM), Dan Mangan (9:05 PM), The Sheepdogs (9:45 PM), Rich Aucoin (10:25 PM) and even Passion Pit (11:15 PM).

If you haven’t caught Adam and the Amethysts (11 PM) or Reversing Falls (12 AM) by this point, you can catch them both at the Drake after Toronto’s warmth of The Weather Station’s opening set at 8 PM.

Royal Canoe also plays again at 9 PM at the Hard Luck, opening for Toronto pop rockers Papermaps (10 PM) and Vancouver anthemic rockers Rococode (11 PM).

The Horseshoe will be rammed for Bravestation (8:30 PM), Two Hours Traffic (11:20 PM), Wintersleep (12:40 AM) and Poor Young Things (2 AM) so get there early.

If you’re in the mood to dance by this point, it would be wise to head to the Garrison for the glittery The Balconies (10 PM) and Allie Hughes’ new band, ALX (11 PM). Then scoot on over to Wrongbar for Nightbox at 12 AM and Grahmzilla at 1 AM.


If you’re not dead by this point, you might as well really get your party on with two of Toronto’s most charming boy rock bands The Elwins (11 PM) and Topanga (12 AM) at Rancho Relaxo.

Helpful Hints for CMW:

If you’re in a bind and want to find new bands, hear if they’re any good before you trek across town or make a playlist of who you’re seeing, check out Toronto’s new listenable concert listings site, Show Gopher.

Always take into account TTC time. It will usually not be as good to you as you’d hope. So plan your schedule accordingly.

There are a ton of Toronto bands playing that are tempting to see, but if there’s someone in from out of town playing at the same time you’re curious about, that might be more adventurous to go to if you don’t know when they’ll be back next.

There are also some daytime shows happening such as Young Lions Club’s week-full of bands at the Toronto Institute for the Enjoyment of Music.

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