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.