Aussies are always well represented at Canadian Music Week and this year was no exception. The last two days of the festival ended on a particularly Australian focused high with The Aussie BBQ, The Indies (headlined by Passion Pit, and seeing Gotye winning an award) and Melbourne's The Temper Trap closing the festival out with a sell out show that also featured Perth's POND.
Much like in Austin, I spent most of the Toronto Aussie BBQ behind the scenes doing interviews (which I promise you'll get to see one of these days), however with a much smaller venue in use I did get to see quite a few of the stellar performances on display, even discovering a couple of new talents along the way.
Of particular mention were Traveller and Fortune from South Australia, whose set - which include gems like "Little Plastic People". Sydney's Eli Wolfe was outstanding, with his roots-centric guitar playing stupidly impressive, especially when he ripped out an epic instrumental number. Props. Big Scary were sounding better than ever, while Voltaire Twins impressed an enthusiastic crowd. But it was DZ Deathrays who cranked up the sound and closed out the day with a killer set, rocking the venue to its foundations, and finishing up their North American tour.
With another successful Aussie BBQ behind them, the Stage Mothers team headed off to New York with many of the Australian bands on display, while we hung behind and made tracks to catch up The Cat Empire for a brief interview, and had the chance to enjoy a soundcheck at the impressive Pheonix Concert Theatre, ahead of their sold out show that night. They no doubt brought the house down as they always do.
We caught up with the rest of the industry next for the annual Indies awards, which also acts as closing party for the conference. Dan Mangan was performing as we arrived, fresh from his Australian adventures. Performing tracks "Rows of Houses", "Trees in the Forse" and "Post War Blues", Dan's folk stylings went down a treat.
The Sheepdogs, who we caught up with at SXSW and are about to tour Australia, were absolutely incredible. A highly respected Canadian Band, they were hand picked by John Fogerty to support him on his upcoming Australian tour, and I can certainly understand why. But it was when the legendary Paul Rogers jumped on stage with the band to perform "I'll Be Creepin'", "I'm a Mover" and "All Right Now" that things became truly special. Certainly one of those 'once in a lifetime' moments. There have been plenty of them this trip...
Rich Aucoin followed, an electronic artist who loved being in the crowd, while YouTube clips of double rainbows played in the background, or - as during "This Heart is Beating" - we sing and dance together under a parachute. This guy makes party music. Hard. Reminds me a bit of Perth's Tomas Ford in terms of the fact that the music by itself is great, but it's with the live show, and the energy that the performer brings to the stage, that it becomes something truly unique, wonderful and overwhelmingly fun.
Passion Pit closed out the show as Janelle Monae did last year, however due to lead singer Michael Angelakos suffering from a cold (and this being their first show in 6 months not helping matters), this wasn't the hour plus show we were hoping for. They cranked out a new song called "Take a Walk" as Graham Wright from Tokyo Police Club joined them on keys, and it was the surprising highlight of the set. The rest of the time was spent giving out the hits: "Moth's Wings", "The Reeling", "Little Secrets" and "Sleepyheads".
Michael was definitely off form tonight but it was a fun set all the same, and the new track gave us some promising insights into their next release... a bit of the same, but a bit of something else that I can't quite put my finger on. I guess we'll have to wait for its release to make that call.
After spending the Sunday enjoying the beautiful weather in Toronto, a vast contrast to the experiences of the day before (and the entire festival last year), I headed along to the Phoenix Concert Theatre to finish not only my Canadian Music Week for 2012, but my North American adventures as well.
Perth's Pond opened things up, with their music being the missing link between Tame Impala, The Flaming Lips and Led Zeppelin. Instrumentally incredible and rocking. "You Broke My Cool" was a highlight with the inclusion of the flute, and a good about of keys thrown in. With good beats and fun vibes, the music is accessible than their 'other' project Tame Impala, though offering similar points of inspiration.
Oberhofer from Brooklyn were sandwiched in between the Australian talent on display and impressed with some xylophone, lots of guitars, whistling and a bit of jangle pop. They were performing tracks off their debut record Time Capsules II, which will be getting a local release in Australia very soon. From what I heard tonight, it's definitely worth checking out.
Closing out the night and the festival were Australia's own The Temper Trap, who sold out the venue and performed in front of a very enthusiastic crowd. If one had ever doubted their success, they would have just needed to be here tonight. They played a few new songs during the set, which sounded like the missing links between their debut EP and LP - very promising indeed. A jam into "Sweet Disposition" was of course the highlight of the set, while a new song in the encore ("I'm Gonna Wait") helped keep the crowd excited. "Rabbit Hole closed out the show, with a set that also included the fantastic "Drum Song" and "Dreams", which feels like an obvious single for the new record.
The Temper Trap are ready to crank out a new album and from the teaser we received tonight, closing out our North American travels, we couldn't be more excited for it. And with that it all comes to an end. Two and a bit weeks of amazing music from all around the world, which couldn't have ended on a brighter note. See you all again next year!