Unlike my first night at Canadian Music Week, tonight was all going to focus on one venue: El Mocambo, for what became one of the best showcases of music I saw the entire trip. But more on that later. First it’s important to mention that today I saw the first and only talk I was able to go to the entire trip – a talk on digital media by The Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington.
In her speech, she compared herself to musicians: “I started out as a solo artist, and then became an indie act when I set up the Post, and then I sold out when I sold it to AOL”. Of social media, she had this to say: “The democratization of social media is complere… Ubiquity if the new exclusivity. When you have something to share, put it everywhere… you just have to have something to say.” She went on to talk about the power of sleep, how communication is the future of marketing and how we are drowning in opinion and science, while we’re lacking illumination and wisdom.
“There are an enormous amount of intelligent leaders making horrible decisions. They are disconnected from their own wisdom. We need to learn to unplug in order to recharge”. It’s rhetoric that she has been using in her speeches for quite some time now, but it’s none the less inspiring. She went on to cite the arts as a great way to connect with ourselves. Check out her speeches online (at TED, for instance) for more Huffington wisdom.
After getting my more intellectual buttons pushed, it was back to the music, and I got to see some incredible tunes, primarily from Montreal, at El Mocambo. The first band, Adam and the Amethysts, were a two piece with an acoustic guitar and a cello or keyboard. The music was beautiful, with some digital lights added to their set, powered by the music they were playing. It helped make it all a bit hypnotizing, too. Check them out.
Possibly the highlight of the whole festival came next, with Ariane Moffatt, a bilingual artist who shines with music in both Canadian French (Français Québécois) and English. Supported by a four piece band, Ariane showed off phenomenal and impeccable vocals (slightly reminiscent of Emily Haines) against great instrumentation. She was on drums and keys, there was a keybasstar and the music slipped from pure beauty ("Hotel Amour") to foot stomping ("Too Late" - with some digital steel drums) in an instant. Her new record MA, is out now and comes highly recommended. French track "The True Smile" ended the set.
Three piece folk rock group Half Moon Run were phenomenal next, with lots of drum and Bon Iver inspiration in tracks like “Call Me In the Afternoon”, and a bit of Fleet Foxes in songs like “Full Circle”. The drummer would play keys at the same time he drummed – very impressive, while some of the more technical tracks went down a bit of a Radiohead route. There’s a little bit of something for everyone with this talented group.
Galaxie were a four piece who opened with an instrumental number and then had two ladies join them. The music was all in French, with huge bass lines, sexy licks and a good amount of synth. They were kind of like a heavier Queens of the Stone Age, with plenty of reference paid to the classics, e.g. Led Zeppelin. A damn fine band.
Martha Wainwright shun next, performing solo on the guitar with some new tracks, including the first song she's written about motherhood, and a beautiful track written by her mother. "Four Black Sheep in the Night" and "This Life" were crowd favourites and sounded fantastic in the venue. The seasoned performer gave it her all and gave us a very special, intimate set indeed.
And finally, one of my favourite bands, The Dears arrived to close out the night, performing tracks off their latest record, Degeneration Street, among others. The Montreal based six piece opened their set with "Omega Dog" before breaking down into an epic jam session. "5 Chords" followed, as did some of their earlier tracks like "Lost in the Plot", "22: The Death of All Romance", "You And I Are A Gang Of Losers" and "We Can Have It". It was a regretfully average set from the band in contrast to my past experiences with them, mainly due to sound issues, but nonetheless a great way to finish the evening.