Canadian Music Week takes over Toronto May 6th-May 10th this year, hopefully leading to significantly nicer patio weather than when it was held in March in previous years. With hundreds of bands across dozens of venues downtown, CMW is one of Canada’s largest and oldest annual music festivals. If you’ve got a wristband and a pocket full of TTC tokens, here are a few of the best acts you can find off the beaten trail:
Paula Gomez – Singer/Songwriter
Hailing from across the pond, Irish singer-songwriter Paula Gomez combines her skillful percussive guitar work with dark and soulful vocals that fill one with longing. This captivating sound is hypnotizing and intimate in a way that feels like she could be playing in your living room or on the small stage at your favourite bar. Versatile and unrestricted by the boundaries of genre, Gomez’s music ranges from blues to country to folk, creating a sound that can be enjoyed by any fan of acoustic music. Gomez is kicking off CMW as the opening act of one of the strongest folk showcases of CMW. Check her out at 7 PM at the Cameron House on Tuesday May 6th.
The Rathburns – Rock/Blues
Toronto natives The Rathburns embrace the whiskey-soaked, smoke-filled lifestyle of dark, grungy blues. Passionate and raw, the band forces their high-energy set on anyone in the room, making it almost impossible not to groove along with them. Built on a simple foundation of classic blues rhythms, the band throws impressive guitar licks and shrieking vocals on top, which help them stand out from pack, thrusting their musical skills into the forefront. The result is an aggressive but addictive sound of musical ferocity. If you’re looking for an intense, sweaty show, check out The Rathburns as they tear apart the Bovine Sex Club, May 6th at 1 AM.
The Beer Patrice – Hardcore Funky Punk
St. John’s band The Beer Patrice combine hardcore punk rhythms with funk music and doo-wop vocals, resulting in an intense sound that somehow manages to get you snapping your fingers and tapping your feet. With more than half their songs coming in at under two minutes, the band often adds high levels of distortion and wailing vocals to cram five minutes of energy into a two minute blast. However, they also have a lighter side where they embrace the vocal aspects of traditional doo-wop music, putting their punk-rock spin on the lyrics to create a sound of chaotic tranquility. From the lighthearted “Zombie II” to the destructive “Changin’ the World, Doin’ Stuff,” the band’s contrasting sounds from song to song keep the show interesting and dynamic. For one of the most versatile bands at CMW, check out The Beer Patrice at Rancho Relaxo, Thursday May 8that 11 PM.
Maylee Todd – Pop/Soul
Local artist Maylee Todd takes the stage Thursday May 8th at 9 PM at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern. Todd draws from soul and blues, as well as electronic and pop, to create a sound that I can only describe as modern and full of nostalgia. Her lyrics are full of honesty and creativity and her vocal talent is simply mesmerizing. With her quirky and fun attitude, Todd’s live show reflects a feeling of sincerity. It’s been several years since the debut of Todd’s first album Choose Your Own Adventure, and she has since received international recognition from a variety of sources. With the talent to make every show and every song feel like its own intimate experience, the chance to see her live at a venue such as the Horseshoe is almost too good to pass up.
GRUVE – Funk/Rock
GRUVE has been a familiar name on the Canadian music scene for several years. Their funk/rock style and raspy distortion live up to their name, resulting in a sound that is infectious. Think of the best band you’ve ever seen in a dirty basement bar after midnight and you’ll have an understanding of GRUVE and their style. Combining heavy guitar riffs with rumbling vocals, they take the essence of hard rock FM radio and pour it into everything they do. Their live show has been polished over years of touring, leading to what will likely be an epic experience at the Underground Garage on Friday May 9th, at 2 AM.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Psychedelic/Punk
Coming to Toronto from down under, Australian rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are a massive seven-piece band with influences ranging from the early punk revolution and psychedelic rock to modern garage and surf music. Full of reverb and distortion, the band’s set feels like one never-ending explosion of psychedelic passion. Despite having seven contributing members, the band’s sound is graceful in its complexity, showcasing the true skill these guys have as musicians. With a repertoire filled with sing-a-long tunes and crowd-surfing gems, King Gizzard shows are one big party. Playing a whopping three times at CMW, King Gizzard can be seen Friday May 9th at the Hideout at 10 PM. If you dig their sound, you can check them out twice on Saturday May 10th, first at 4 PM at the Horseshoe for the Aussie BBQ Showcase as well as at Wrongbar at 11 PM.