Ben Caplan at CMW opener at the CN Tower
Canadian Music Week kicked off in the most patriotic way this year, with an opening invite-only gala at everyone’s favourite National landmark, the CN Tower.
It was an exciting and interesting choice for opening night, one that had everyone talking in the supersonic elevator that whizzed us up to Horizons cafe, the designated venue for the evening. “I’m experiencing ‘airplane ears’,” I very loudly exclaimed to my fellow writer friend as I stepped out of the elevator. He replied with a confused “What?” while pointing to his ears. It was evident I wasn’t the only one feeling happily out of sorts. Thankfully our ears adjusted in time to chat about the incredible view of Southern Toronto and rock out with Ben Caplan, who took to the stage solo.
Ben got the crowd going, without his Smokers, by strumming his guitar to the jovial Seed of Love, followed by the light-hearted and fun, Beautiful – “let’s go on a date, don’t hesitate, this could be great”. I’ve Got Me a Woman was a crowd favourite, as everyone sang along to the charming “she’s-so-gooood-to-meee” round-a-bouts in unison. A group of guys lining the back of the floor, provided the perfect baritone while they swayed back and forth to the lovely folk melody. If this is what the East Coast feels like, I’d like to go immediately. Ben’s simple lyrics and rugged sounds made it irresistible to just stand and watch him perform; one was compelled to sing along to his bold raspy tales of romance and passion.
Joel Plaskett Emergency took to the stage shortly after, and the semi-circle shaped floor quickly filled with fans and combative photogs, stepping on toes to get that one good shot.
“We are the highest band in the world right now,” Joel said, and he wasn’t lyin’. The high-energy trio performed new tracks from their forthcoming album, Scrappy Happiness. Northstar and Harbour Boys got everyone in the room WOOing and dancing in their own spot. The real standout of their set though, was Lightning Bolt – a melodic tune that started out slow and strong, then surprisingly picked up speed with a jolt of electric bass that shocked the crowd into a real, sweaty rock show. Nowhere With You was up next, a familiar JPE classic, that has us all begging for an encore. It was the perfect opening night that set the stage for a myriad of great bands to follow.
Will the CN Tower turn into a regular venue for Canadian music acts? I have high hopes.
If you haven’t heard of Toronto’s own Cai.ro yet, what are you doing with your live music-going self?? Watching hot hard rock bands in Kensington? Me too. But in all musical seriousness, you should be having your hearts stolen and earholes rocked by this newish indie band, who arrived on the T.O. scene about a year ago.
Thursday night they opened for fellow indie rockers, Crowns for Convoy, at intimate and interactive venue, C’est What with a full 7 song -setlist. All eyes were on lead singer, Nate Daniels as he opened with “Vampyre”; an eerily catchy 3 minutes of dreamy reverb (check it and other songs off the band’s EP here: http://www.myspace.com/cai.ro)
They followed up with “Render”, a ballady tune, led by strong sultry strings c/o Caitlyn, the band’s cool violinist, and soft drum-kit cymbals c/o Matt, the easy-on-the-eyes-guy behind drums. Nate gently wailed over the sound of these awesome instruments, pairing them perfectly with vulnerable lyrics, telling the tale of reluctantly being in love (I think). I took a quick glance around the pub during this number, and it was clear the audience was just a little bit more than captivated… read: mesmerized, trance-like stares to the front of the stage. My friend’s iPhone lit up during “Render” and he didn’t even CHECK IT. That’s how good it was. Uninterrupted attention, y’all.
“All These Colours” was up next, making everyone in the pub bob their head along in tune or do a shoulder sway, to and fro. If you were there, and did not get into this song in any way, shame on you. Your lack of rhythm and recognition of good music is disappointing. Kidding, I digress. Cai.ro’s bassist Dante, accompanied Nate’s emotional vocal lead here, making for a pretty rad combo of soulful sounds. This is the type of song that could easily make it’s way onto the radio, Sirus, whatever, perhaps pushing this band into mainstream territory. I hate to compare but, less a few string sections and Montrealers (although Nate did live in MTL a few years ago… but no accent, and he’s native to BC, so doesn’t count) and this band is equivalent to the talents of the multi-dimensional Arcade Fire. And by multi-dimensional, I mean super talented and interesting to listen to.
Let the motor run, indeed.
Lookout for Cai.ro around town at Canadian Music Week in March and NXNE in June.
I started browsing around Tumblr on this lazy Monday evening, and realized one of the only posts on my page is that of my tomato plants (and shamelessly promoting my uber talented photog friend’s work …), so decided to post an updated photo. Just LOOK at how they’ve grown. These bad boys are taking over my roof! I could not be more thrilled. I’m prittty proud, pritty proud indeed. Oh, and the cherry tomatoes are delicious. #rooftopgardensuccess (not sure if I can hashtag on Tumblr, but you get it. Thrilled.)