Concerts Concerts CMF 2012: One Team's Take

CMF 2012: One Team's Take

Young Rival at The Mod Club
CMF 2012
Young Rival, Jenn Grant, Chains Of Love, The Sheepdogs, Caveman, Fanfarlo, The Balconies
Various Venues in Toronto
March 22-25, 2012

Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle

Chronicling the sights and sounds of Canadian Music Fest.

If anything you read today ends up pushing the limits of your attention span, this article will probably be guilty. But, while there are plenty of words and photos to be found, this piece is just a taste of what CMF 2012 had in the pot (Sticky Magazine is teeming with accounts of all sorts of fun thrown our way). Of course, like all good things, festivals are better when they come with good company, and since most of our week was spent in very specific company, this team of two decided to slap together our shared experiences with chewing gum and duct tape to give you a rundown of the great acts we caught as a couple during Canadian Music Week, me with my pen and she with her camera.

Young Rival

Our adventures began on Thursday, with our first show coming by way of Young Rival appearing at Mod Club (new branding be damned).

Young Rival doesn't skimp on their visits to the city, but they managed to impress more than usual this time around. Time has been a friend to the band, and the few months between this time and their last show we saw brought plenty of improvement to a sound that was a little rougher around the edges earlier in the year. Along with their blend of beach and garage that came so cleanly on the Mod Club stage, the boys from Hamilton were as engaging as ever, entertaining with the kind of enthusiasm that kept the small audience dancing uninhibitedly - a fact that was especially surprising, since it was at the bright hour of eight o'clock.

Info: Young Rival
Connect: Facebook, Twitter

Young Rival at The Mod Club   Young Rival at The Mod Club   Young Rival at The Mod Club   Young Rival at The Mod Club   Young Rival at The Mod Club   Young Rival at The Mod Club   Young Rival at The Mod Club  

Jenn Grant

Next up was Jenn Grant, who found herself in front of a growing crowd as night brought people out of the cracks. This artist was an unusual pairing on a bill with Young Rival, whose upbeat and blaring sound clashed jaggedly against her gentler, folky work. Nonetheless, the audience was all for it, and showed as much life for this mellow singer-songwriter as they did for the first act. In fact, it was very clear that the group was made up of Grant's true fans (not just CMF pass-holders passing time), with those on the floor spending plenty of time singing along with the artist, who never failed to pair her catchy vocals with silly showboating and broad smiles.

Info: Jenn Grant
Connect: Facebook, Twitter

Jenn Grant at The Mod Club   Jenn Grant at The Mod Club   Jenn Grant at The Mod Club   Jenn Grant at The Mod Club   Jenn Grant at The Mod Club   Jenn Grant at The Mod Club   Jenn Grant at The Mod Club   Jenn Grant at The Mod Club   Jenn Grant at The Mod Club  

 

And then came Friday night, with its excuse for everyone to come out of the woodwork and party well into Saturday morning. For our part, we found our way to El Mocambo for the Dine Alone Showcase, which boasted more than enough talent to keep us cemented at the front of the downstairs stage until somewhere near last call.

Chains Of Love

After making a bee-line through the crowd (and past some particularly tempting complimentary meat products at the door), we settled just in time to see Chains Of Love open up their set.

While the west coast band passes through the city on the regular, this was our first time catching them on-stage, building on the reputation that earns them growing hype whenever they're on a bill. As a new group that had just released a very anticipated EP a few weeks earlier (Strange Grey Days), their set-list was pleasantly predictable, heavy with the sexy, soulful garage blend that's been catching attention on the new seven-song release.

Chains of Love at El Mocambo   Chains of Love at El Mocambo   Chains of Love at El Mocambo   Chains of Love at El Mocambo   Chains of Love at El Mocambo   Chains of Love at El Mocambo   Chains of Love at El Mocambo   Chains of Love at El Mocambo   Chains of Love at El Mocambo   Chains of Love at El Mocambo  

The Sheepdogs

In proper festival fashion, the night's secret appearance wasn't kept very secret at all, as word of special guests The Sheepdogs seemed to have started spreading somewhere around the same time that the musicians themselves were told they were appearing. But luckily, the potential surprise was not the only thing making the set exciting. With Indie Awards, Juno trophies, and Rolling Stone covers sitting on their mantel, the act stood tall on that small stage and put on the kind of show that made the fans in the audience awfully grateful for their wristbands.

This is a band that's perfected throw-back classic rock. The Sheepdogs brought together shining instrumentals, raw vocals, and rock-and-roll stage flare in proper fashion, and I couldn't help but grieve a little that I wasn't at the front of that stage alongside my father during his teenaged years, all long-haired and denim-jacketed and rocking out to a group that was going to inspire decades of music to come.

The Sheepdogs at El Mocambo   The Sheepdogs at El Mocambo   The Sheepdogs at El Mocambo   The Sheepdogs at El Mocambo   The Sheepdogs at El Mocambo   The Sheepdogs at El Mocambo   The Sheepdogs at El Mocambo   The Sheepdogs at El Mocambo  

Caveman

In an unfortunate turn of events for anyone holding an instrument, someone was forced to follow The Sheepdogs on the bill - specifically Brooklyn-based Caveman. But, while the crowd had dropped dramatically in numbers, the indie rock act seemed more than happy to be on stage, and pumped out plenty of gems from their latest release Coco Beware. Despite the vocal levels being on the low side, the group was fully focused for a set heaping with the ambient layering and hypnotic beats that make their sound the perfect closer for a stunning night.

Info: Caveman
Connect: Facebook, Twitter

Caveman at El Mocambo   Caveman at El Mocambo   Caveman at El Mocambo   Caveman at El Mocambo   Caveman at El Mocambo   Caveman at El Mocambo   Caveman at El Mocambo   Caveman at El Mocambo  

Fanfarlo

Another day of CMF, another few dozen acts that should probably shouldn't be missed. Saturday brought us first to Mod Club to catch headlining act Fanfarlo.

With a six year history, the British five-piece is well on their way to being a top-tier act, fostering a polished sound and a breadth of instrumental talents able to support pretty much any songwriting inspiration to come their way. Spread across the two full-length releases the act has to their name, that songwriting bounces between poppy, danceable numbers and rich, rolling folk work. While the set spared no expense boasting tracks from the band's recent Rooms Filled With Light, the most memorable chunks of the night were shining in performances of their earlier work, such as during a beaming rendition of “Comets”, where smart composition kept on par with the group's vibrant live show.

Info: Fanfarlo
Connect: Facebook, Twitter

Fanfarlo at The Mod Club   Fanfarlo at The Mod Club   Fanfarlo at The Mod Club   Fanfarlo at The Mod Club   Fanfarlo at The Mod Club   Fanfarlo at The Mod Club   Fanfarlo at The Mod Club   Fanfarlo at The Mod Club   Fanfarlo at The Mod Club   Fanfarlo at The Mod Club  

The Balconies

Southbound winds pushed us to The Garrison for the next (and final) set we would see as a pair for CMF 2012. And who better to cap off our evening than Ontario's own The Balconies? In front of a growing crowd (who would later form the audience seeing acts including Teenage Kicks), the trio was as fiery as ever, powering out rock with their own sexy edge, intensified by the charismatic lead vocalist Jacquie Neville catching everyone's eye. Beside and behind her, though, talent by way of bass, drums, and vocals was in no short supply, no matter where the audience may have been looking.

 

The Balconies at The Garrison   The Balconies at The Garrison   The Balconies at The Garrison   The Balconies at The Garrison   The Balconies at The Garrison   The Balconies at The Garrison   The Balconies at The Garrison   The Balconies at The Garrison