Tokyo Police Club

CMW 08: the Indies @ the Royal York Hotel

For the last big night of Canadian Music Week, I hauled ass to the Royal York for the 8th Annual Independent Music Awards, a celebration of the spirit of independent music in Canada.

Yes, awards were handed out in every category from Favourite Metal Artist (3 Inches of Blood) to Favourite Children's Artist (The Smudge Fundaes), and there was lots of conjecture in the press pool about what it might sound like if those two acts collaborated on a few tunes.

But the real reason for me to be there was the performers, many of whom had played earlier in the week while I was taking in other artists.

I thought I'd celebrate the show with my own little ceremony: so here it is, in order of appearance, my Top Five Indie Awards Live Moments:

  1. Attack in BlackAttack in Black - (see photo, right) I'd never heard their music before, so I was pretty impressed when this four-piece from Welland started kicking ass.

    Due to the schedule of the awards program, they only performed two songs (as did most of the other bands), but they were both solid, even when the Ians (drummer Ian Andrew Romano and bassist Ian Daniel Kehoe) switched instruments.

  2. The Cliks - Who could ask more than four women from Toronto who know how to rock the house. They seemed to be having a blast up there, and the vocal delivery for "Oh Yeah," dedicated to Jeff Healey, was right on the money.
  3. Lowest of the Low - LOTL showed everyone what the true spirit of indie music was as they bravely soldiered on through bass rig technical difficulties and forgotten lyrics (Ron, the second verse starts "You've gone and lost your job again ...").

    Getting back together to play three songs in honour of their induction into the Indie Hall of Fame, it was clear that very little rehearsal went into this, but I didn't care, and I don't think anyone else did either. Yes, they were loose and sloppy, but they were also full of energy and had a great time, so they were in essence the epitome of what makes indie music so appealing in the first place.

    Lowest of the Low's Ron Hawkins with Über-fan Kevin

    To top it all off, they invited Kevin (see photo, right), the world's biggest LOTL fan up on stage to snap pictures of himself rocking out with bassist Dylan Parker and bounce around so much it looked like he was in danger of toppling the bass cabinet, I'd say the Low went out on top of the world.

  4. Tokyo Police Club - (photo at top of page) Talk about local talent doing well, TPC showed us just why they're one of Canada's hottest exports with the first extended set of the night. Plus, they dropped a few really good tracks from their forthcoming LP, Elephant Shell, leading one to speculate this is likely going to be the must-buy Canadian Indie Album of 2008 (you heard it here first, folks).
  5. The New Pornographers - A.C. Newman and company closed the show with an amazing tight and concise set of power-pop mini-symphonies that really threw me for a loop. This was my first time seeing them live, but I hope it won't be my last.

    There was hilarious stage banter when drummer Kurt Dahle freely admitted that he had "failed miserably" trying to play along with the drums for the band's contribution to the video game Rock Band, "Electric Version."

    They finished up their set with a cover of ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down" that almost restored my faith in classic rock (almost!). As they played the last chord, Jace Lasek of the Besnard Lakes loudly proclaimed "holy fuck, that's amazing!" You can't argue with that.

Photos by Roger Cullman

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