Riot Fest Day 2 Recap: Iggy + The Replacements Prove This Is No Kids Game

By: Shelby Monita August 28, 2013
Day two of Riot Fest was a welcome change from what was endured during day one. With a stellar line up of punk rock icons, it would be nearly impossible to disappoint. That is, as soon as Best Coast left the stage. Lead by Bethany Cosentino, California natives Best Coast take the laid back lifestyle a few steps too far. It’s hard to tell if Cosentino is playing the part of bored or just really hates what she does for a living. While on stage, it seems like achieving something most bands could ever dream of is the worst thing that has ever happened to her. There is also the fact that almost all her songs have the same whiney tone to them, in the end just sounds like one long, drawn out temper tantrum. Best Coast is not punk rock, and it would have been nice if she did the audience and herself a favour and just sat this show out. 
Thankfully Dinosaur Jr. was on directly after to restore our faith in music and in punk rock festivals. Though still paying homage to the first day of Riot Fest, the band lead by J Mascis and Lou Barlow played a song from their first band together, which coincidentally was a hardcore punk band by the name of Deep Wounds. The guys were as polite as the crowd, noting that the mosh pit was kind and friendly–a very Toronto mosh pit–and showing gratitude to be playing on the same bill as Iggy and The Stooges and Replacements, two bands that were a huge influence on them. Playing a selection of songs from their massive catalogue, these boys did not let us down and had everyone moving when they busted out their stellar single, “Freak Scene.”
The Weakerthans were a strange choice to be a part of this punk rock line up. A polite folk rock band from Winnipeg, seems like they were only on stage to fill the Canadian band quota, like Fucked Up did last year. Despite the odd placement, they put on an entertaining show. Singing songs about their justified hatred for Winnipeg, making curling references and saying “thank you” a disgusting amount of times, they did bring everyone back to their polite, northern roots. 
Finally, the time came for the living hurricane to come and sweep us away. Iggy and The Stooges came out full throttle and busting right into “Raw Power,” the perfect upper the audience needed to come alive. Iggy Pop is just as wild as ever, jumping around stage, singing beautifully, smiling at the crowd and cracking jokes, everyone was a bit changed after this performance. With a selection of songs from the past as well as a select few from latest album, Ready to Die, the arrangement kept the hour-long set fresh. Not to mention, despite doctors orders for Iggy to stop stage diving, that did not keep him from taking a massive leap with a running start, over the huge security gap and into the audience. A trick only a seasoned pro can pull off. 
The crowd came together when Iggy had everyone singing, “I Want to Be Your Dog” and moshing their hardest during “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell.” Few acts can make a polite Canadian crowd turn into crazed animals, completely letting loose. The set ended with “Sex with Money,” leaving the crowd in awe and most likely horny. 
Riot Fest came to a beautiful and perfect end when The Replacements, after breaking up 22 years ago on stage reunited for the first time. 
Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson walked out, like it was no big deal, like thousands of fans haven’t been waiting for this moment an entire lifetime. Westerberg made a joke, apologizing for taking so long–they had an unresolved 25-year-old dispute–then they jumped right into “Takin’ a Ride.” Everything was perfect, especially the imperfect parts. For example, when Westerberg forgot the words during “I Will Dare.” 
The set list spanned their entire career, included b-sides, and even had a Chuck Berry cover. The band was happy, was comfortable on stage and couldn’t stop smiling at each other. In total they played an 80-minute set, far too short for making us wait so long, but just enough to leave us wanting more. After seeing so much joy and love on stage it would be hard to say that this is it for The Replacements reunion. They still have another two Riot Fest dates to fill, though no one would be shocked if they came back for more. 
At the end of a strange weekend, Riot Fest came through. It was one hell of a festival.
Shelby Monita is a freelance writer living in Toronto. Her writing mainly focuses on music, more specifically underground and punk rock. She welcomes the travel bug with open arms and loves to share her stories. You can read more of her work on her site  
Photography by Paddy Jane.

Riot Fest Day 1 Recap: Thank God For Grade

By: Shelby Monita August 27, 2013
This past weekend, Toronto’s favourite historical site turned festival grounds, Fort York, played host to Chicago based punk rock carnival, Riot Fest. The weekend started out hot, heavy and loud, as Saturday’s line up was a stacked bill of only hardcore and emo pop rock bands. Swarms of self-conscious teenagers and their misunderstood angst had half the capacity of the land filled as bands screamed their way into fans hearts. 
Structures, the second act of the day came on stage, shocking the crowd with their individual version of hardcore. With the lead singer barking into the microphone, it was hard to tell when one song ended and the next began, just one long incoherent mess. Though I must admit they were very conscientious, promoting how important hydration is during a festival to the young crowd. The singer even gave us a touching story of a time he was at a festival, didn’t think much about drinking water and fainted. The metal-inspired band entertained us with the very young guitarist swinging his guitar around his neck and the bass player head banging with great enthusiasm. In ten years these guys will make a great Pantera cover band. 
Later in the day, some local flavour from Toronto-area’s Grade provided us with the first melody of the day. In true punk rock fashion they made note that the price of their merchandise wasn’t their prices and wasn’t punk rock. Much more professional and put together than the other acts, it was obvious that they were the older guys who the younger bands could look up to. 
It was difficult to tell Mayday Parade apart from Pierce the Veil. Both were young, both were pretty, both had shallow emo lyrics that the naïve minds of the stacks of teenagers in the audience understood to be “deep.” Mayday Parade put on a better show with less stage antics and more talent. Where as Pierce the Veil seemed to take notes from watching YouTube videos of Def Leppard, they were more focused on making sure they kept the attention of the MTV crowd with high jumps and throwing their guitars across the stage, while keeping huge exaggerated smiles on their faces. A bit too polished for a supposed-to-be punk rock fest. Though kudos to them for the broken home artwork they used as their backdrop on stage. Strong message there. 
The night ended with A Day to Remember, a hardcore band from Florida. Their performance can be summed up in the line they used when they first walked on stage: “Toronto, lets have a good time! This one is called ‘Violence.’” 
Shelby Monita is a freelance writer living in Toronto. Her writing mainly focuses on music, more specifically underground and punk rock. She welcomes the travel bug with open arms and loves to share her stories. You can read more of her work on her site  

The New Pornographers – Live at the EX


By: Hilary Johnston August 22nd, 2013



The New Pornographers, (sans Neko Case), emphatically took the stage last Saturday and reminded indie fans why they found themselves at a venue as kitsch as The Ex. With the sounds of contaminated cronut artery clogging and Whack-A Mole still distantly audible, the gang covered favourites from all corners of their catalogue. Despite a few stumbles in the first half of the set – a guitar string break and a cable replacement (one Pornographer joked, “Did anyone bring a guitar to the CNE?”), a lyric flub and a set list kerfuffle – the performance remained sparkly. 


Dan Bejar sauntered on stage as summoned, bringing with him a slightly wacky presence that was balanced out by Catherine Calder’s perpetual sweetness. AC Newman hung out between the two, offering clumsily dry between-song banter while the remaining Pornos provided a cushy backdrop. Their whole performance was lovably casual, like that cozy shirt you still wear even though it has a few holes in it. By the time they reached the end of the set, all of the best things about The New Pornographers came out to play. The group’s knack for weaving fluid melodies through as many vocal lines as possible was beautifully evident on “Testament to Youth in Verse”, while “Bleeding Heart Show” rocked enough to make llamas in the building next-door dance (or so I was told). 


My summer craving for indie power pop has officially been satisfied and, after “Twin Cinema” was chosen as an encore, I know the guy screaming out his request from way in the back feels the same way. The crowd filtered back into the midway madness; not a frown in sight.


Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Hilary Johnston @hilary_johnston

The Magic of the Wooden Sky’s Travelling Adventure Show

By: Sheena Lyonnais August 20, 2013
The Wooden Sky’s Travelling Adventure Show was perhaps the most magical night I’ve had while living in this great city of Toronto. The tour, which took place on August 16, was part of the SummerWorks festival and featured the band performing at various lots, alleys, and venues in and around the Lower Ossington Theatre. The goal was to transform the streets into a stage, but what they accomplished surpassed that.
The tour started at the Lower Ossington Theatre, but not inside like we all expected. Rather, it was outside on the back patio. The band played a few songs while trumpets and drums marched in through the crowd. When the first set was completed, we followed the sounds of violin, our path lit by a few volunteers walking with paper lanterns down one of Toronto’s most beautiful graffiti alleys. If was there the band stopped to play a few more, though as we walked through, small amps and solo musicians carried the tunes so that the music was continuous and the show never ended. It was so clever how they wove the songs together and brilliant that they did this seamlessly, effortlessly, as if they always performed like this.
We followed them then through the street, then through the major intersection of Queen and Ossington. By now, our party had grown, picking up people along the way. The mass quantity of people tapping and singing along with a band while they continued to play was a sight not to be missed. People in cars, stopped in intersections and forced by the mass to remain as they were, took pictures on their phones, no doubt enamored by this band and its followers performing and parading down the street.
We ended up cross legged on the grass at CAMH for an intimate set where I experienced a beautiful moment with my love while watching the Wooden Sky perform under the moon and the stars, at least 100 people sitting around me. This was by far my favorite part. If there was to be a visual for the word ‘magic’ it was in this moment. The world never felt so beautiful. 
“I hope you’re not too comfortable, because the tour continues!” singer Gavin Gardiner said. We followed blindly, never knowing what was coming next, to a courtyard performance where volunteers passed around sparklers and the sky lit up in small cinders of light. We were walking through the properties and surrounding buildings at this point, the music never ceasing. 
It was here a few members climbed into the back of what I imagine was an old 1950’s Ford truck set in neutral. A few people pushed it while the Wooden Sky continued the adventure, a stripped down performance of mostly voice, guitar and violin. 
The tour continued through to a small stage set up at a docking station where the band led into a rendition of my favourite song, “North Dakota.” Usually at shows in Toronto, people are many drinks in at this point. As this was a travelling outdoor show (with perfect weather to boot) there was nowhere to grab drinks. To be honest, I didn’t even think about it. But the Wooden Sky does not let these details go unnoticed. 
“Because you’ve all been so good,” Gardiner said, “we’re going to pass around bottles of whiskey!” 
And mickeys of whiskey circulated the crowd as we took in the sounds of Toronto’s most stunning alt-country band. I have seen the Wooden Sky numerous times over the years, the last time at the Opera House, and just when I think they’ve outdone themselves they prove me wrong. 
I thought this would be the end of the tour, but in a way it was just getting started. We followed the band to the final location, the Black Box in the basement of the Great Hall, for a three-part performance and a full band show that featured a sprinkling of new songs. 
The whole adventure lasted roughly four hours and the entire thing was surreal, a true production of the coming together of theatre and music. The work and rehearsing that must have gone into this was evident for there was not a moment that wasn’t executed flawlessly. The Wooden Sky was quick to thank people throughout their performances, from sleepless volunteers to patient girlfriends, and I would like to thank them too. 
Never have I seen or experienced anything like this and I believe no other band but the Wooden Sky could have made the evening so special. I will never forget this night.
Sheena Lyonnais is Toronto Music Scene’s editor and co-founder. Follow her and Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @SheenaLyonnais & @TorontoMusic.

The Horseshoe Proves to be the Lucky Charm for Inlet Sound

By: Andrea Holz August 20, 2013
To paraphrase Forrest Gump, shows at the Horseshoe are like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re going to get, but in my experience what get is usually sweet, delightful and more than satisfying. 
St. Catherine’s Theatre Crisp kicked off the night on August 16.  They brought their interesting genre-bending styles of funk and hip hop to the Horseshoe Tavern.  Front man Kyle Petch was charismatic and made for an interesting show.  However, as much as I enjoyed the music, I found the band’s token tap dancer rather interrupting.  I just feel this band has such a big sound and a unique style the tap dancing didn’t quite work with this performance.  As talented as the band and the tap dancer are, I’m not sure this was the right place to marry the two art forms.  
Next up, The Fast Romantics, who leave you wanting more.  This band has the perfect nostalgic 90’s sound with multitalented musicians.  The keyboardist played multiple instruments and it helped showcase all of their abilities.  Their songs are thoughtful, heartfelt and well structured.  Best song of their set goes to “Afterlife Blues.”  They have all the makings of a mainstream band and hope to see them step up and out of the Indie Scene.  I expect great things.
The night took a lukewarm turn when The Maladies of Adam Stokes took the stage.  They are a typical band of beautiful hipsters.  Sadly, the beautiful frontman’s singing style was a little too sleepy for my taste. Though I very much enjoyed the unique talents of the trumpeter, I feel that this band needed a little more onstage energy and enthusiasm not just with the audience, but with each other.   I will keep watching them, because they did have some good songs with interesting lyrics.  I look forward to seeing their progress.  For now I would call them the orange cream of the box.  Sweet, but wasn’t really what was hoping for.
Though it was getting late and the energy began to fleet, once Inlet Sound took the stage it was like an explosion of awesome overtook the entire place.  They were like a deliciously fabulous cluster of love for the ears!  As expected of any headliner, they were the best of the night. This fantastic folk fivesome has some of the best on stage chemistry I have ever seen.  Lead vocalist Michael Wexler is a charismatic and energetic frontman with the voice of an angel.  Drummer Kate Maclean is always smiling, and I must mention the keyboardist who has the energy and enthusiasm of a younger, hipper Jerry Lee Lewis.  
It is so refreshing to see a band that is having as much fun as the audience.   Even trying to get a photo was a difficult task, as too many people were dancing including me.   There was not a non-tapping toe in the house. The lyrics of “Mademoiselle” truly leave you smiling.  Their set was my favourite part of the evening and I sincerely look forward to their next show. Tragically, they have announced that it won’t be for a while as they are getting back to writing.  Until then, I highly recommend their album The Romantics.  
Andrea Holz is a Toronto-based award winning writer, actress, comedian and coffee master.

CD Review: Pale Eyes – Sweatshop


By: Sean Carsley August 20th, 2013

Down on a cement floor with crossed legs and a weapon of choice. Wood panel walls or cheap, cracking brick makes the small room seem smaller. That cold sensation which seeps up your spine from that floor stained in water and black circles of god-knows-what. Sweatshop, a mix-tape by Toronto duo Pale Eyes (Ben McCarthy and Lisa J. Smith) is the kind of album to listen to in a room like that. 
Beginning with “Waves & Radiation”, it’s the perfect segue. A taste of what is to be the entire album. Raw. Chaotic. Layered pieces of beauty.  
Then you slide into “kltr kma”, a Reznor-esque piece of ska, but rich. “Empathy Exhaustion” borders on Alternative but stays in that vein of Industrial with its raw sound and effects. 
Sweatshop is brilliant and full of hooks, “Philosophka” should be radio-bound, except for the censor nightmare of the repeated “Don’t fuck me over” line. Which is a shame because I would defy anyone not to dig on this tune.  
Listen to Sweatshop, preferably on a cement floor. You must catch its chaos and beauty.
Pale Eyes – Sweatshop 
Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Sean Carsley @carsley92

Watch This: Born Ruffians – “Needle”


By: Hilary Johnston August 13th, 2013


Born Ruffians released their third album, Birthmarks, back in April and have been showing off their increasingly sleek sound all summer. The record is satisfying, affording a more mature direction for the quartet while maintaining their steadfast Ruffian spirit. The release of the video for “Needle” is timed favourably to build some hype for the last few North American stops before the band takes off for Europe in the fall. 


The video features all of the obvious choices, from the quintessential Brooklyn Bridge shot to performance clips and the seemingly obligatory girls in a photobooth. Albeit visually entrancing, it’s nothing new. The consistent Instagram-esque stock effect gives the impression that the disjointed events are occurring as part of some sort of reverie. Either way it’s a blur, imaginably due to all of the rooftop champagne carousing. To directors Istoica and James Cooper’s credit, there is some connection between the video and the song.  By bouncing between shots of lead singer Luke Lalonde wandering the streets and mingling with sociable twenty-somethings, an insular feeling is implied, visually complimenting the refrain “I belong with no one / You belong with me”.  What’s more, New York may be the perfect setting to bring a song about being part of a larger whole to life. Sure, it’s another obvious choice, but I think this one is forgivable.





Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Hilary Johnston @hilary_johnston

Groovin’ at the Grove Music Fest: A Review


By: Myles Herod August 8th, 2013 


Squished between a glut of musical events that spanned two Provinces and a State, the inaugural Grove Music Fest this past Saturday haplessly fell victim to over-saturation, although not succumbing without its merits, mind-you. Sure, there was no scene stealing Kanye moment, seemingly parachuting into Drake’s OVO soiree. Likewise, the sheer girth of Montreal’s Osheaga and Chicago’s Lollapalooza talent pool dwarfed Fort York’s hosting efforts by good measure. 

That aside, Toronto’s newest day-long fest served as something for everyone – guitars, synths, samples and a dollop of hip-hop.  Bottom line, my musical tastebuds were allotted equal moments to savour the flavours. Here’s what I saw.




An assortment of sun-baked dudes who set out to create a homage to the sounds of Weezer and the No-Wave genre. Results varied.  


Earl Sweatshirt


Grove’s rock-centric stage may not have been the best atmosphere for Earl Sweatshirt, but there was enough raw charisma and fresh tracks to keep his minimal set buoyant, if not bubbling. Certainly Earl would have excelled at a fest with more clout, perhaps. Take for instance his Coachella team-up with Tyler the Creator, resulting in a positively bumping affair. Then again, keep in mind he’s just 19. Time is on his side.


Gaslight Anthem


What’s there to say: my admiration is slight, even though Gaslight Anthem seem highly competent musicians who wear their earnestness on their inked forearms.  

Truthfully, I saw their high-spirited paeans as quietly phoney. I recall an anecdote that concerned Bruce Springsteen (to whom these chaps are often associated) where upon arrival to a sold-out arena, ‘The Boss’, dressed in a suit-and-tie, swapped his rigged apparel for a dirtied white tee and a pair of ripped jeans minutes before his performance. Make-believe? Perhaps. Unfortunately, this infiltration of corporatism was a persistent thought as I watched these riled up New Jersey rockers. It all seemed like an elaborate put on – the tattered clothes, the perfect combination of grease and hair gel – as if their entire image was concocted in some office in downtown Los Angeles.   

I digress. Getting back to their Grove slot, they sounded like a hodgepodge of The Killers, Bruce Springsteen and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. They came, they played, they left. Let’s move on.


Hot Chip


The Toronto stereotype is that of a head-bobbing or arm crossed hipster, unequipped with dancing software.

As Hot Chip swooned with their brand of electro-dance pop, something must have malfunctioned because one was hard pressed not to see beards and horn-rimmed glasses dancing in the dark. Not moshing, not bouncing. Full-on boogying. 

On record, Hot Chip’s funky bleeps can sound as if they’re made by a Nintendo console – hmm, let’s say Super Nintendo. Yet, the quirkiness of the studio work was strangely absent at Grove Fest. Instead, with two percussionists, the septet remained a dense, rhythmic, playful, mechanical kraut-house outfit.

Props to dweeb frontman, Alexis Taylor, with his unabashed persona as well. I’m confident his image, along with Hot Chip’s undervalued music, will be revered upon re-evaluation years from now, citing them as forerunners to some geek infused musical movement.




Forgive their late arrival, which subsequently ate up an already short stage time, Phoenix entered with swagger – grand in posture and performance – exalting themselves over all those who graced Fort York earlier. With a crystal clear sound, something that never seemed shellacked with gloss, even forgettable tracks from their new Bankrupt disc managed to carry weight (and not hefty like a hippo, but anthemic like a Who performance circa 1971). My comparisons come sincere as Thomas Mars leaped across the stage in defiance, swirling his microphone like an unfortunate Clay Aiken look-a-like emulating The Who’s Roger Daltrey, leading the march of booming drums, crisp synths and burning guitars. 

With a helpful serving from their breakthrough LP, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the crowd erupted, particularly the early appearance of ‘Lasso’, arguably the band’s finest composition, punctuating the smoky air as it were playing straight from the speakers of a turntable.  

Alas, it’s too bad they didn’t put out a better, if not comparable, album this time around. Either way, I was left happy and certain – these Frenchmen had given me faith that rock and roll ain’t dead yet.


Photos courtesy of Myles Herod (@MylesHerod)

Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Myles Herod @MylesHerod

Help Us (And You) Win $500 So We Can Throw A Party!

By: Toronto Music Scene August 7, 2013
This time we need your help!
We’ve entered the Ultimate Summer Driving Playlist contest to win $500 and we need your votes! We’ve compiled our dream summer driving playlist. We intentionally chose all Canadian and local bands to help support the scene and we promise if we win this money we will use it to throw a party! We’ll book three bands and let everyone in for free. As additional incentive, each person who votes will also be entered in a draw to win $500. 
That’s right, you can help us put on an epic show and maybe score five bills of your own! 
This contest is through Kanetix, an online comparison site for insurance, mortgages and credit cards. They just commissioned a study on how your taste in music affects your driving. Bad news hip hop fans and metal heads, you guys are the worst! Kidding! 
Anyway listen to our playlist below and go vote for TJ Liebgott’s playlist!! No registration required. Also, you can vote EVERY DAY!!
Support local music! Contest closes August 23. 

TMS Ultimate Driving Playlist by Toronto Music Scene on Grooveshark

Thanks from Toronto Music Scene!!
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @TorontoMusic

CD Review: AML – You Used To Be Me


By: Hilary Johnston August, 6th 2013


Recorded on the West Coast with Nigel Asselin (Half Moon Run, Faded Vanity), Air Marshal Landing’s full-length debut has arrived with poise, and candidly, one I’ve been waiting to hear for quite some time. 

Matt Simmonds, Graham Drummond and Cory Adrian have written an uncommonly balanced record that is instinctually thoughtful , full to the brim with notable melodies, groovy bass lines and perky hooks. Precise and polished, each tune logically leads the ear to the next, with the lyrics providing a sense of cohesion that you not only hear when they are sung, but actually discern. Furthermore, a contemplative tone and common theme of reflecting on one’s own identity makes each song feel like part of a whole, not singulair pieces.


Although the album traverses a sunny and glossy streak, it does so without sacrificing the edgy side of the group’s songwriting. Take for instance the jaunty pop of “Me and My Friends”  – a painfully catchy melody and whistling solo that is paired with tense guitar riffs – resulting in a song that straddles classic and current simultaneously. Truth be told, I listened to it four times before I finally allowed myself to move on. 


In addition to being multi-instrumentalists, the trio of Air Marshal Landing have solid voices too, allowing some seriously rich harmonies to seep through. “Death by Calypso” is a winning example, complimenting the punchy rhythms and bright guitar tone. The song stands out as a potential summer dance party staple, exuding enough quirky spice to captivate any Vampire Weekend fan.
Listen to this one. It’s an ideal summer album – fresh, fun and relevant.
Air Marshal Landing – Death by Calypso

Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Hilary Johnston @hilary_johnston