Indie bands from all over the world landed in Toronto to play and attend tons of shows, informative panels, and legendary parties during Indie Week. The competitive juices also began to flow as members of the music industry judged featured showcases, with the top-scoring act receiving a paid trip to headline Indie Week Ireland from October 16 - 20. I was there to check out the acts, hear the music, and catch panel discussions on the music industry…with some extreme highs and a few lows to note. Why not listen to a few tracks in the player below while you catch up on the action.
Let’s start with the positive side of things with the great bands I was able to watch on stage. After hearing their name buzzed around the Toronto scene, I was happy to catch The Ascot Royals at The Rivoli for a RIVeting performance…ok, that was lame…Listed as “Ontario-based”, the band is made up of two Brits, brothers Ben and Jimmy Chauveau (keyboards and vocals), Israeli born guitar player Tal Vaisman, and Ontarians Sam Stark (drums) and Scott Page (bass). The onstage presence of this band was remarkable and they really brought the crowd out of a bit of a lull and onto the dance floor with their fun, engaging tunes. The five-piece released their LP, Don’t Let it Stop You, in 2012 and have said they are planning on writing some new tracks over the winter.
Other talent playing the Rivoli that night was The Beaches, four rocker chicks hailing from the east side of Toronto who have created waves on the music scene in 2013. Dubbed the “breakout band of 2013” by NXNE, the foursome released their self-titled EP in late May, which was produced by famed Canadian musician Raine Maida. These ladies know how to rock the stage with a flow that seems to be on the brink of Cherie Curry and Joan Jet’s early days. Their first single, “Loner”, had heavy rotation on Much and was well-received by the crowd.
Closing off the night was Wildheart, a lively band from Toronto that brings a 70s vibe with long hair, sweaty sing-alongs, and classic tunes that raged into the early hours of the morning.
As the hub of Indie Week, the Monarch Pub hosted an array of great acts throughout the festival including Brooklyn’s Marco with Love. I still find it shocking that these guys have been playing with lead singer Marco Argiro for less than a year as they have such appeal, evoking that great feeling of hearing something new and refreshing. Their sound demonstrates influences from Brit rock, to 70s rock, to alternative, and their performance varied from Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show to punk-esque raging with kicks off the drum kit. After working with Marky Ramone on his Blitzkrieg European tour, there is no doubt that Argiro/Marco with Love is destined for great things to come.
After all of the shows, I was able to check out some panels about music industry discussions that I was looking forward to after some very informative sessions last year. However, the panel discussions this year proved to be somewhat disappointing for a music journalist, as opposed to a musician. One discussion entitled “The Music Industry: Past, Present, and Future” really just became a Q&A for amateur musicians in the crowd to ask for tips on how to get YouTube views or sell merch. This was a helpful discussion for those musicians, but it left me feeling very mislead from the panel title and a bit disappointed that the others seemed very much the same. The lack of moderators also affected the direction of the discussion I’m sure. I would love to see more panels about social media and music, a relevant discussion to all industry types and one that is definitely necessary.
Oh, and the overall winner of Indie Week? Toronto’s punk-metal group Sumo Cyco, led by former mainstream achiever Skye Sweetnam. Hailed for their originality and raw talent, the quartet is now set to attend Indie Week Ireland.
Indie Week is a great festival to bring fresh, undiscovered music to the forefront of Toronto for a week when larger festivals like NXNE or CMW may not include so many different sounds. Word on the street is that Toronto is set to be the next music city, so what better time to start paying attention to these awesome festivals, supporting them, and attending these shows where you may discover the next big thing. Ain’t nobody gonna slow this down.