Show Review: Indie Week launch at the Hideout

Bella Clava Plays Indie Week 2009 Toronto By: David Stuckey
October 10, 2009
Our beloved Indie Week is upon us once more, and to kick things off proper, The Hideout hosted the annual launch party that serves as both a showcase for some of the bands playing throughout the week, and a place where we can all go drink on a Wednesday night. Indeed, the party atmosphere was palpable all over the small, packed venue, and the bands didn’t disappoint in adding an exemplary soundtrack to a night celebrating the vibrant and virile state of independent music in Canada and abroad. 

The great thing about attending shows during Indie Week is that you’re guaranteed the bands playing are actually worth your time and money. You won’t find yourself stumbling wide-eyed into an itinerary of rock bands that are forgotten the minute their set ends. As any good Indie Week launch party should, the musicians that took the stage actually had something new to offer music lovers.
Opening up the evening was Toronto based Winhara, an alternative rock group with a slight electro twist that added some flavour to a fairly straightforward lineup of songs. Their performance was confident and pushed out some good energy to the crowd as they purchased their first drinks, but listeners with deeper tastes will probably find these guys to be a bit too popped-collar to warrant additional listening. Still, Winhara was a solid entry to the night and was at least crowd pleasing, if not jaw dropping.
For more information on Winhara check out:
I love it when old men play guitar. They add a level of depth and narrative to their playing not usually seen from the young up-and-comers, so it was good to see Jay Sparrow and his relatively mature backing outfit hit the stage after Winhara. The band’s tasteful, engrossing instrumentals served as perfect accompaniment to the storyteller vocal style of Sparrow himself, reminiscent of Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, but modern enough to be relevant for today’s audience. These guys played their back to basics, rural rock and roll with heart and professionalism. Closing their set with an adept cover of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band, Jay Sparrow is a great choice for anyone who loves classic rock, but is looking for something a bit more contemporary.   
For more information on Jay Sparrow check out:
Next up: Bella Clava, a dark, dirty, bluesy group that is starting to make a name for themselves around town.  These female-fronted rapscallions earned their buzz with a soulful and exciting performance that grabbed the attention of everyone in the joint. Pulsing, driving rhythms clobbered everyone in the vicinity, while psychedelic organ ditties and ravenous guitar solos picked us up and kept us listening. All this painted over with the eerily soothing melodies of vocalist Caitlin Dacey.  Bella Clava’s set was definitely in the running for the best of the evening. Plus, the band had a creepy mannequin on stage sporting a balaclava that some guy in the crowd kept kissing, which needless to say added to the overall enjoyment of the performance. Go see Bella Clava the next time you get a chance, because their latest EP, Cold Spell, lacks the raw energy of their live show to do them justice.
For more information on Bella Clava check out:
The Cutaways Play Indie Week 2009 The organizers for Indie Week apparently have some sort of exchange program going on with Ireland, because the launch party welcomed two Irish bands to carry out the rest of the show, the first of which being Cutaways. Hailing from Belfast, Cutaways have made quite a splash back home, which has given them the opportunity to perform here in Toronto. One can see why: the pop-rock trio unleashed an infectious sensory assault that was simply too fun and groovy to ignore. Taking a page from the New Pornographers, Cutaways feature a beautiful male/female vocal dynamic that expertly projects over bright, jumpy guitar and synth backgrounds. They have a fresh, modern sound that does its part to push pop-rock forward, and as such it was important that they were a part of Indie Week. Don’t be surprised if you hear Cutaway’s gracing a future iPod commercial.
For more information on Cutaways check out:

Sixteen Layers, the second entry from Ireland and last band of the night, was decent but nothing extraordinary. Maybe it was the fact that they had to follow up Cutaways, or that the venue was beginning to clear out, but the band didn’t seem to delight the audience as well as the other bands. They belted out some good alternative rock songs and put forward a confident performance, but they didn’t exhibit the kind of uniqueness that the audience was used to at that point.
For more information on Sixteen Layers check out:
For more information on Indie Week check out: 
Photos by: Jules Sapershteyn – MsUnderstood Photography 

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