Canadian Music Week isn’t quite as big as NXNE, but this year’s edition boasted a few must-see shows each night, even with notable cancellations like Childish Gambino. Though my initial intent was to just see Wintersleep for the first time in a couple years, winning a wristband made me decide to get to Toronto a day early to get some use out of it.
The prime event for Friday night was, of course, the Arts&Crafts showcase at the Horseshoe Tavern, featuring the new ex-Stills/Broken Social Scene project Eight and a Half, The Darcys, Zeus, and others. As good as that line-up looked, it also meant the wristband line-up stretched out to Spadina, so unless you were there early or had a ticket, you were out of luck.
So instead, it was off to Lee’s Palace to catch Cloud Nothings. Attack on Memory is one of the more hyped releases this year, and the band performed it in its entirety. Opening with ‘Stay Useless’, ‘Fall In’, and ‘Cut You’, they quickly got my three favourite songs out of the way, and I was left to absorb the rest of the set. Little to no banter occurred between songs, and the riffs started to blend together towards the end. I was hoping for something more, but the crowd seemed to approve.
Saturday began with catching a bit of Little Foot Long Foot’s in-store set at Sonic Boom’s new location in Honest Ed’s. Not having been in the city since the Dollarama announcement, I was impressed with the new space, as well as the vinyl specialty store in Kensington Market. Sadly, I realized too late that Zeus was doing an in-store performance later in the day, and will have to settle for seeing them in London in a few weeks.
With some other members of the crew heading to see the Inbreds at Lee’s Palace, I headed back to the Horseshoe. Gentleman Husbands was finishing up when I got in, closing with a cover of ‘Born to Run’ which had the packed venue jumping. They were followed by Charlottetown’s Two Hours Traffic, who had both a new bassist and some new songs in tow.
Though Wintersleep’s forthcoming album, Hello Hum, was recorded as a three-piece, it was nice to see that the live line-up remains the same, as Jon Samuel and Mike Bigelow took up their respective roles. As expected, their setlist focused heavily on new material, and on first listen, it’s incredibly solid. I wasn’t terribly enamoured with New Inheritors, but the new stuff we heard has me excited. Few song titles were introduced, aside from ‘Nothing Is Anything’. Interestingly, the band drew all their old material from Welcome to the Night Sky, including ‘Archaeologists’, ‘Oblivion’, ‘Laser Beams’, and of course, ‘Weighty Ghost’. The big surprise of the night was a cover of the Constantines’ ‘Young Lions’, followed by perennial closer ‘Miasmal Smoke and the Yellow Bellied Freaks’. The crowd demanded an encore, but tight festival times prevented it, so we were left to await the album’s release before we heard any more from Wintersleep. My shout of “When’s the album coming out?” led to a smile from lead singer Paul Murphy, but no answer, so we’re left hoping that it’s soon.