FEATURE EDITORIAL REVIEW
By: Fridae Mattas
Photography By: Fridae Mattas and Dipan Cheema
Here we go again, trying to squeeze yet another CMW adventure into one editorial. After years of hoping for a warmer Canadian Music Week, it finally kind of happened. It was held from May 6th to 10th for the first time, usually it’s in cold Canadian March. You would think in May the weather would be warmer…It was not, in fact the weather was just as confusing as the beginning of the festival. Compared to the eight previous years I have attended, this was the most lackluster and unorganized of Canadian Music Week’s. Many other industry professionals I came across were also left scratching their heads, communication was non-existent. Thankfully the miscommunications only lasted the first day of my coverage adventures and it did not slow the coverage too much.Wednesday night there were some super amazing bands at the Bovine and Hideout, I came across the gems of the night at the Bovine. One of those smashing bands being “Bloody Diamonds” from Halifax. They hit me up about a month before CMW, requesting coverage the proper way with an email and links to their music. Many think a Facebook invite is all they need to get media at their show…Wrong! We all receive emails from managers, publicists or label reps, I rarely check my fb invites because there are just too many and these days I am so busy. My friends even have to call or text me a few days before an event at the latest. But, if a band or artist sends me an email without a publicist in advance, unlike other media folk I will take the time to check them out before the others sent daily. All of this is possible if you take the initiative and do it yourself like Bloody Diamonds. If you don’t try, you won’t know what could have happened. Most media establishments don’t even open unsolicited emails, FridaeTV is a little different. I am always looking for amazing new music signed or unsigned to introduce to the world.“The Deadset” from Vancouver hit the Bovine stage just before Bloody Diamonds. You never know what to expect when it comes to unknown indie bands, but lucky for us this band was pretty good! The Vancouver pop-punk duo is; Jt Criminal – Vox/Axe and Steven Appleyard – Drums/Vox. They got the crowd extra hype as they rocked their original tune, “Hello Kitty”. A track they wrote pre-Avril shitstorm and you, can watch it here. Would love to see this band again, they were very refreshing and if I were to describe the vocals…The closest comparison according to my ears would be Paramore’s leading lady, but Jt Criminal sounded so much better live at the Bovine! They just need to add a few more band members to fill out the sound, that also applies to Bloody Diamonds who are mentioned in the paragraph belowAs enjoyable as they were I couldn’t wait for Bloody Diamonds to hit the stage at the crowded Bovine, I was looking forward to hearing a specific song of theirs “Monsters”. Unfortunately for me they did not play it in their set but it was a fantastic show once the sound issues were handled. At showcases like these, you need to make sure to play the best tracks you have, hence the word “showcase”…Especially if you want to get signed to a major. The duo’s stage presence was electric and I was loving the last track “Four Walls“. The audience was captivated by Vox Sara Elizabeth’s unique vocal performance and Jake Seaward’s skills. I see extreme potential for both of the young bands mentioned. And, if by some chance you get to see them on tour which Bloody Diamonds is now on, don’t be shy! Go and discover some fresh sounds.
After Bloody Diamonds wrapped their set, off it was to check out a few more bands along the strip but a large number of them didn’t make the cut. Oh yes, actually one band did make the final cut and technically it was a new day, the band being “Streetlight Social” from Peterborough. They were playing the Piston, a venue I have never been to and probably will never return to shoot at again! The reason? Overbearing red lights used during the performances, for a photographer this is the worst lighting to work with, might as well have them play without lights. The band consists of members from various other bands like My Darkest Days and Cold Creek County rolled into one giant six piece funky folk fusion of a band called Streetlight Social. They played well, had a lot of energy and tried to work the small stage the best they could. The stage did not fit all of the Larries comfortably, I could barely see bassist Brendan McMillan behind his giant old school string bass squished in with the other five. Streetlight Social is: Chris Millar – Vox/Guitar, Reid Henry – Keys/Axe/Backup Vox, Kevin Austin – Guitars, Matt Baylis – Percussion and Gabe Gallucci on Drums. Vox Chris Millar did better but still needs a little more vibrance, something is missing there. Honestly thought he was going to be a bundle of nerves like when I saw him sing with My Darkest Days last year in Peterboonz. He was still nervous but could hold it together long enough to shake most of his nerves by mid set. The music was good, different but that’s what makes them stand out and worth seeing. The whole band gave it their all and entertained the crowd of maybe thirty people like they were thirty thousand. Not bad for a first time viewing, wish I could have stayed longer but camera and phone were in nap mode and there were other bands I needed to see. Will definitely have to check them out again at a better venue, watch a couple of the tunes filmed here. Thursday I had a major issue, none of my photographers could make it to shoot and I had to be at fifteen places at once. No need to give yourself stress wrinkles, no stress. The only choice was to downsize coverage, problem solved. Yeah…The only band I actually made it to see and get some shots of was Dearly Beloved. They were playing at the newly opened Studio Bar for a semi-private rock party just down the street from the Hard Luck on Dundas. Once upon a time I did an interview with Dearly Beloved but some how the footage disappeared, it was a really good interview too.
The sound system at the venue was garbage, couldn’t decipher anything the band was singing! That meant no filming of any tunes because even with an external microphone, it would sound like shit. I have been doing this for almost eight years now, if the environment is not up to my standards, filming does not happen. I do hope the venue fixes their sound problem because if they want to be a successful live music venue, the system has to be stellar! The band tried their best and the crowd was entertained despite the sound issues. Recently Dearly Beloved released their newest album “Enduro” filled with their blend of folky garage punk rock that must be heard. Air was desperately needed by the end of the set, it was so hot in there I was sweating like a hooker in church! Ha ha plus I couldn’t stay, had to rush to the Revival and try to catch some of the sets.The Revival was a full house when I arrived, so packed I couldn’t even find my friends and so very hot with my winter jacket on. Migrated outside between sets to get some fresh air hoping to see someone I knew. Just as my phone died there was my favorite British friend strolling up to greet me, surprised he actually made it to the free show with his busy schedule. So very happy that he arrived when he did, I couldn’t find the others and my phone was dead no contact unless we bumped into each other. As we headed into the venue, one of the security guys had a super beenie (fanboy) moment and asked my friend for an autograph on his arm…That was the most awkward moment of the night for sure! Back in the venue my friend tried helping me get to the stage by leading the way through the crowd, but he was getting stopped for chats and photos in the process. We decided to retreat from the crowd before more people recognized him and enjoyed Fefe Dobson’s set from a corner in the back of the venue. She has come a long way compared to when I saw her perform for the first time when I was still in high school…Not going to lie, she was a hot mess back then! Now, it seemed as though she has her shit together and it showed because she sounded fantastic. Too bad I didn’t get any feasible shots, I tried with my longer lens from the back but the photos are far too blurry to publish.Friday! A few different coverage schedules were made just in case there was a “magical” guest list I forgot to put names on. The first stop of the night was Yuk Yuk’s to see Tom Green’s first early show. Before finding a seat, I asked the person at the door where media seating was, he said there was no specific media area and that I could sit anywhere except the reserved seats. “I can shoot from anywhere?” I asked, he said yes. Very soon I was to find out how wrong that information was. Always trust your intuition, wish I had listened to mine! As I looked around for a non-reserved seat there was nowhere to sit except the second row in the middle of the room…I try to blend with the crowd but at 5’8 I stick out regardless. There were two comics prior to Green, Trevor Thompson and Patrick Coppolino.Trevor and Patrick were funny but honestly after seeing a few stellar amateurs at Yuk Yuk’s and a number of other comics in the past, they were not that funny but did make me laugh a bit. Green, was funnier than his openers but extremely overrated and not really a Russel Peters, Chris Rock type of comic. He relies more on his eccentric antics and catch phrases than actual material. Perfect example of this is his famous line “Daddy would you like some sausage” from 2001’s “Freddy Got Fingered” which he gladly said over and over again. The plan was to take a few shots and enjoy the set like I did with the openers. Green walked out on stage and scanned the crowd, after saying a few words to the first victim, he spotted me and then saw my camera. He jibbered on about how big it was and how nobody asked him to take pictures. My camera is not that big, it’s just a Nikon 5100 Dslr with the basic 18-55mm lens, I can fit it in my purse. Anyway, in typical Tom Green fashion he yelled in my face, asking if I was a student at Ryeeerson Poleeetechnical University and wanted a picture for my project. At this point I was in tears from laughing so hard, I could barely talk when he asked who I worked for. “FridaeTV!? What the fuck is that?” Oh your name, oh ok I get it.” I was trying to stop laughing and he thought I was upset; “I don’t think she’s enjoying herself anymore, don’t worry you’ll get lots of hits, come to me at the end of the show and I’ll take a picture for you FridaeTV.”Actually, it was not at all embarrassing or offending, that was the funniest part of the entire set and it was freestyle. He apologized for dragging it on and found others to heckle, but mid set found his way back to me again ha ha, they always do. Tom Green was entertaining, I will give him that, however my a.d.d was kicking in hardcore and I couldn’t wait to wander. Mr. Green was all about his beer once he got over harassing me as he drank it on stage throughout the performance. Don’t think I will ever try his beer, it looked dark and muddy like Guinness and probably would taste just as gross to my palette. A guy was going on about the fifteen dollar cost of one beer and Green ripped into him and changed the subject moving onto another victim…Like the I.T. guy who looked like a serial killer, don’t know how wise that was. No, I did not go back and get a photo with Green, I do not have time for old men hitting on me. All in all it was a fantastic way to start off the evening, Tom Green is worth checking out at least once in your life, just don’t sit near the front if you can’t laugh at yourself. The minute comedy time was over, I booked it to the next venue as fast as the serial killer looking I.T. guy hopped onto the streetcar. After a quick Queen strip trip, I headed back to the Revival for the Universal showcase featuring Nikki Yanofsky, Bobby Bazini, Jesse Gold, Cris Cab, Andee and Kardinal Offishall. I managed to shoot three of the six, but didn’t think I would get any of them. Luck was on my side, well, sort of…One Montreal friend was outside in line, doors were still closed but the line was massive. When I arrived they had let people inside by groups of four or two’s depending on the space in the venue. Security was awesome to me, didn’t even need to show them anything or stand in line. It was more crowded than the night before and the bands were not even on stage yet. As overwhelming as it was, I sucked it up and made my way through the crowd to the stage, along the way I bumped into a few people but whacked someone with my purse. When I turned around to apologize, there in front of me was the Legend himself, Mr. Quincy Jones! The man who produced Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, amongst the many groundbreaking award winning records under his belt. Little did I know Mr. Jones was going to hit the stage to introduce Nikki Yanofsky once Universal Music President/CEO Randy Lennox introduced him. First artist to hit the stage was Toronto’s Jesse Gold, I thought he was going to be some folky singer-songwriter. Turns out I was wrong and happy about it too! Jesse has this poppy rock bluesy feel to his music. He did a phenomenal job as the first artist of the night, the crowd was eating it up. His songs do need a little work but the talent is blatant, no wonder Mr. Jones has taken a liking to him. One thing I noticed that night was, every artist including Miss Yanofsky had to ask for water on stage, what’s with that? Water should always be on stage at room temperature ready and waiting for the artist to drink, this keeps vocal chords moist. By the time Gold was really into his set it was over, he only played four songs. You can watch one of Jesse’s tune’s here. On stage next was Montreal’s Bobby Bazini, never heard of him or Jesse before but now we all know. Bazini had a full band and three backup singers, the first track he played was “Bubblegum” and it was the best track of his set. There was something about his vocals that irritated my ears in the other songs. It was like he was forcing himself to sound that way, wasn’t natural and did not sound authentic. Celine Dion has a similar problem but has been getting better over the years. The final artist I covered at this venue was Nikki Yanofsky, the child prodigy now twenty! Everyone knows Nikki as the voice of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic’s song “I Believe”, but now Montreal’s little Jazz pop star is growing up. This wasn’t the first I heard of Nikki, it was the first time I was actually able to see her perform live. Like a proud Grandfather, Quincy introduced Miss Yanofsky after he said a few wonderful words. You can see it unfold and hear Nikki sing her heart out here. Nikki blew me away, she was incredible as she showcased her new album for everyone in the crammed Revival. Yanofsky is one of those magnificent talents who is not noticed enough. First track was “Little Secret”, followed by “Something New“. People need to pay more attention to artists like Yanofsky instead of the overly sexual mediocre entertainers out there. The crowd was enchanted and her fans were falling more in love with her by the minute. I see great things in Miss Yanofsky’s future, after all Quincy Jones is executive producer on her latest record “Little Secret”. Once she sang three songs and I had the coverage I needed, I migrated to the same spot as the night before so I could watch the show. Nikki was truly a pleasure, the beautiful butterfly is definitely coming out of her cocoon. See her live, buy her records, get acquainted with Canada’s sweetheart.
Saturday was interesting, I decided to play a game with the local FridaeTV fans. Quite a few of you showed up to meet me at different locations, I felt so loved thank you everyone for all the support! The first coverage location of the night was The Horseshoe Tavern for the Paul Gourlie charity benefit. Paul Gourlie was probably the best agent any band or artist could ever have. Paul worked for the Agency group, he was so very passionate about music and the bands he worked with. He was the first agent I ever met and has told me about so many bands. He loved the bands like he was in them, very few people in the entertainment industry are like Gourlie, he loved music, a true music angel. I think I still might have his card somewhere. Sadly he is missed by many, last year on May 10th 2013 he succumbed to the disease he had been fighting his whole life, Cystic Fibrosis. Rest in paradise Paul Gourlie, you are now free to chill with the greatest musicians. Two of the bands Paul discovered played to honour him they were, Bedouin Soundclash and The Trews.Personally, my ears are not a fan of Bedouin Soundclash’s music, however they do have my respect for making waves. The Horseshoe is one of the worst venues to film or photograph anything. The lighting is horrible, the crowd gets sweaty and the footage always comes out looking and sounding like ass. This time was no different except that the lighting was better and I had my external mic, therefore the sound was not going to be an issue. Some of the crowd was already drunk and rowdy, this environment was going to get interesting rather quickly. As predicted it did, once Bedouin Soundclash hit the stage the pushing and elbowing began. I only planned to film one track but forgot to turn on the mic for the first one, The next track was a song they dedicated to Paul and had all of the original members in attendance. The band is: Eon Sinclair, Sekou Lumumba but for this special night original drummer Patrick Pengelly. Pengelly left the band in 2009 to attend Law school but joined the band on stage for this performance. The set was entertaining, they played all of their hit tunes but the crowd was thirsty for more. Watch the track “St Andrews” here, and while you’re there check out all of the other artists on FridaeTV.It calmed down for maybe five minutes between changeovers and then more people flooded the room to watch The Trews. I couldn’t see the back, there were far too many people and it just kept going like an endless ocean. No way I could get a drink and find my way to the stage again, that was an obvious delusion. To pass the time a lady who was with the Toronto Star was asking me about FridaeTV. She mentioned that the Star was working on a new online live series with musicians. Well, I wish you all the best, so many media outlets doing the same thing. But hey, we could always team up! The Trews kicked off their set with a song they wrote specifically for Paul called “65 Roses” you can watch the video below.