That Time I Found A New Favourite Band (Or, “The Importance of Being Early”)

Animal Collective at Rogers Picnic

Photo from PanicManual.com

(This entry is part of an ongoing guest blog series I am doing for Aux.tv and LCBO’s Whisky Rocks.)

I almost never arrive at concerts early. It’s not my fault! Really! I just have a hard time getting out the door in time, and HELLO, has anyone here tried to get anywhere on the TTC ever? EVER? You can’t. Sorry.

The only time I see more than one band at a show is when I go FOR the opener, or it’s a festival. Can you call a band an opener if it’s a festival? Sure!

The year was 2008. It was an overcast July afternoon that happened to also be my sister’s birthday. As her gift, I bought her a ticket to the Rogers Picnic at Toronto’s Historic Fort York. The line-up included such acts as Born Ruffians,  Vampire Weekend, Chromeo, Tokyo Police Club and City & Colour- but for me, the most memorable set of the day was Animal Collective. We weren’t there to see Animal Collective- but when they played at 4pm in the afternoon, and for me, they stole the show.

(Let me clarify beforehand – the line to the beer tent was long. The line to buy the tickets was longer. The line to actually buy beer was the longest of all [surprise!] – so I was completely sober and clear minded when Animal Collective played their set.)

I’d heard of Animal Collective before, but I’d never seen them. And I had never listened to their music much.  Their set at the Rogers Picnic that day changed everything. Their set was hypnotic, transcendent, beautiful and weird – and on top of that, only half of the band was actually there – Panda Bear and Avey Tare (and Avey Tare’s bright red bucket hat)! They were amazing. I felt transported and float-y, despite of the mud and rain and lack of beer.

I was completely immersed and, subsequently, won over. After that show, I dove headfirst into their discography, and they’re now one of my favourite bands. I’ve seen them multiple times, I’ve actually purchased their records (with real money, people!) and they opened my ears to a style of music I’d previously let go unexplored. It was a wonderful example of what can happen if you get to a show early and give the bands you don’t know a good listen and a fair chance!

And if you’d like YOUR band to be the act someone discovers by surprise, you should enter for a chance to open for The Trews! Right now!

To enter the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, upload your original music demo to the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition at WhiskyRocks.com between September 17 at 10:15 a.m. EST and October 19 at 4:15 p.m. ESTThe LCBO will review each entry and if it meets all guidelines and requirements, the song will be posted on WhiskyRocks.com where friends, family, and the general public can vote between October 23 at 10:15 a.m. EST and November 1 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The top 3 finalists with the most votes will be announced on November second, and will win a slot to open for The Trews on November 8th in Barrie, ON, where a panel of judges and the Trews will then select one winner. The winners will be announced at whiskyrocks.com on November 9th.

Tickets to the Trews show and Whisky tasting cost $25 and are available online at ticketbreak.com, by phone at 1-866-943-8849, at impactlive.ca ticket outlets, or at the door. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Dixon Hall, a United Way member agency and its Music School program, which provides youth with music instruction and opportunities to attend music camps across Ontario.

Concertgoers must be 19 years of age or older and valid ID is required.

For full rules and regulations for the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, visit whiskyrocks.com/competition

If I Could Open for Any Band, Who?! (or, “PARTY!”)

Andrew WK Live (photo: Scott Harrison, http://andrewwk.com/pictures/live)

Photo Credit: Scott Harrison (andrewwk.com/pictures/live)

(This entry is part of an ongoing guest blogging series I’m doing for AUX & Whisky Rocks! Enter your band for a chance to open for the Trews HERE!)

I’m not in a band. But I’d be lying if I said I’ve never wished I was. Like you, I love music- but the part I think I’d really enjoy is the performing part. Getting on stage, giving it everything you’ve got, bringing the audience into it… that’s what I’d be into. And, of course, the partying. Who doesn’t like partying?!

Now, forgetting for a moment that the only instruments I can play are the trumpet, the slide whistle and the bass guitar (badly), let’s pretend that my fabulous imaginary band and I were allowed to jump on as the opening act for any band we wanted. Who would it be?

This isn’t about who my absolute favourite band is. I don’t know if I’d want to open for Talking Heads or LCD Soundsystem, the pressure would be too much! This is about who would be FUN to open for, and who I’d really enjoy watching from the sidestage, and who I think would be down for an awesome afterparty.

So, obviously, I’d want my band to open for the King of Partying, ANDREW WK.

Not only do I like Andrew WK’s music, but I don’t think the guy has ever actually sent a tweet without the word “party” in it. (Seriously, see for yourself.) For Andrew WK, partying isn’t about getting wasted or whatever, PARTYING IS A WAY OF LIFE! It’s a mantra, an outlook, a philosophy to guide your daily existence!

Andrew WK seems like a guy who would be good to his opening band, who would hang out with you, maybe share his rider and some guidance. And how much fun would he be to watch from the sidestage? The answer: SO FUN! His fans would probably be pretty great to open for, too. They’re there to have a good time, they WANT to like the opener! I imagine all of these conditions would combine to create a perfect storm of awesome.

You know… maybe I will start a band, just so this could happen. Who wants to join my slide whistle party band? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Oh, that’s right. You already have a band – and you’re entering to open for THE TREWS! (By the way, if you haven’t done that yet… you should really get on it. Okay?)

WhiskyRocks.comTo enter the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, upload your original music demo to the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition at between September 17 at 10:15 a.m. EST and October 19 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The LCBO will review each entry and if it meets all guidelines and requirements, the song will be posted on WhiskyRocks.com where friends, family, and the general public can vote between October 23 at 10:15 a.m. EST and November 1 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The top 3 finalists with the most votes will be announced on November second, and will win a slot to open for The Trews on November 8th in Barrie, ON, where a panel of judges and the Trews will then select one winner. The winners will be announced at whiskyrocks.com on November 9th.

Tickets to the Trews show and Whisky tasting cost $25 and are available online at ticketbreak.com, by phone at 1-866-943-8849 , at impactlive.ca ticket outlets, or at the door. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Dixon Hall, a United Way member agency and its Music School program, which provides youth with music instruction and opportunities to attend music camps across Ontario.

Concertgoers must be 19 years of age or older and valid ID is required.

For full rules and regulations for the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, visit whiskyrocks.com/competition.

What Gets My Attention When I See A New Band Live (or: “If You Care, Let’s Get Engaged”)

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: Sex Bomb Om

Practice is important.

(This is part of an ongoing series I’m writing and cross posting from Aux & Whisky Rocks. Click that link to enter your band for a chance to open for the Trews!)

We’ve all been there – you get to a show early, one where you came to see the main act – and you end up watching some opening band you’ve never heard of. And sometimes, when you’re lucky, that band ends up being incredible.  You end up buying the shirt, or the CD(?) or the vinyl, and you get home and look them up and learn about them and listen to everything you can get your hands on. It’s more exciting than when you hear about a band from word-of-mouth, it’s the thrill of finding it for yourself, in real life, like an archeologist discovering a new dinosaur or an astronomer spotting a new comet in the sky. You’re seeing and hearing it with your own seeing-and-hearing holes! It’s actually happening, and you’re there, at the beginning, experiencing it!

(Fun side note: This happened to an ex-boyfriend of mine in a pretty big way: many, many years ago he saw the Arcade Fire open for the Constantines. Boom. I have forever regretted missing that show.)

In my last post, I said that I generally find new music online – but I fall in love with new music when I see it live. Why? What makes a new band grab our attention from the stage? If you go to a lot of shows, you know that for every great new band you find at a live show, you’re going to hear a hundred that do nothing for you.

When I see a new band live, of course, the quality of their musicianship is important. Although I support very new musicians and understand that you eventually have to get out of your parents’ garage and play a live show for the first time, I probably won’t become a fan from your live show if you can’t keep it together. If the band is tight, talented and well-practised, I’ll be a lot more receptive to what you’re doing up there.

Bigger than skill, though, is ENGAGEMENT. You need to engage me. Get me to pay attention. Don’t just look at each other and mumble, don’t stand halfway back on the stage, don’t turn your back to me to play to your bandmates – BE PRESENT, and BE THERE. We paid to see YOU! You have a few minutes to win us over, so let us know you want to. You can get away with mistakes and the audience will forgive you, if you can perform with confidence and stage presence. Play to your audience. Be yourself. Talk to us. Have FUN. Show us your FEELINGS and show us that you care about being there. That’s why you are there, right?

Bottom line: if you expect to make me care, you need to feel it first. If you don’t feel passionate about it, why should I?

To enter the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, upload your original music demo to
the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition at WhiskyRocks.com between September
17 at 10:15 a.m. EST and October 9 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The LCBO will review
each entry and if it meets all guidelines and requirements, the song will be posted
on WhiskyRocks.com where friends, family, and the general public can vote between
October 12 at 10:15 a.m. EST and October 25 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The top 3 finalists
with the most votes will win a slot to open for The Trews on November 8th in Barrie, ON,
where a panel of judges and the Trews will then select one winner. The winners will be
announced at whiskyrocks.com on November 9th.

Tickets to the Trews show and Whisky tasting cost $25 and are available online
at ticketbreak.com, by phone at 1-866-943-8849, at impactlive.ca ticket outlets, or at the
door. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Dixon Hall, a United Way member
agency and its Music School program, which provides youth with music instruction and
opportunities to attend music camps across Ontario.

Concertgoers must be 19 years of age or older and valid ID is required.

For full rules and regulations for the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, visit
whiskyrocks.com/competition

Finding Music In The Last Frontier (or, “Music + the Internet = <3")

 

The Future Is Nigh!

 

Exciting news everyone! I’m part of the blogger/music expert/computer keyboard plinky-plonky person panel for AUX and LCBO’s Whisky Rocks Showdown. Every week I’ll be blogging about musical things, and cross-posting the entries here! And hey – if you’re in a band you can enter the Whisky Rocks contest for a chance to open for The Trews and win a whole slew of cool stuff!

—-

You may or may not know how much I love the internet. If you’ve spent any time with me IRL (that means “in real life,” if you’re new), and ESPECIALLY if we’ve had a drink or two together, you have likely been the recipient on my long, rambling speech about the virtues of the internet.  (Don’t I sound like a fun date? The answer is yes.)

You see, I think the Internet is humankind’s greatest invention. It allows news to travel at unheard of speeds! It gives a sense of community to loners and misfits! It lets me see you what you looked like covered in flour and passed out on your university residence floor back in first year! It’s the closest thing we have to the Wild West – a great, unexplored frontier full of mystery, danger and wonder!

And, one of the best things of all – it allows us to share music in a way we never have before! While word-of-mouth is still the most trusted way to find music for most people, the idea of “word-of-mouth” no longer necessarily means your friend sitting you down and playing you a physical record (although, it definitely can be). It’s evolved. Now, word-of-mouth can be a recommendation from your favourite blog, a tweet from someone you follow on twitter saying how great a band is, or a video that someone posts on their Facebook wall.

The sheer amount of music available online can be overwhelming. It’s been said many times before this – but we live in an age where anyone with a microphone and a computer can make music and get it out there. Which is amazing and all kinds of awesome, but is also why social media helps. It lets us connect with friends and sources we trust, and helps us cut out the clutter. Blogs and websites hold new music up for us to hear, but since you almost need a “Music Blog Discovery Blog” with the number of music blogs that exist now, it helps to have social media to help point you in the right direction. Not to say you have to go only in the direction you’re pointed – that’s the beauty of the internet! You can follow links and go down internet wormholes and find music you never thought could exist!

Another bonus of online music discovery? When you find music online, you can take your time, listen to it at your own pace, as many times as you like. Mmmm. Relaxing.

Quick note, though: there is NO substitute for live music. Online might be where I find my music – but live is where I fall in love with it. We’ll talk more about falling in love with live music later on in the series.

To enter the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, upload your original music demo to
the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition at WhiskyRocks.com between September
17 at 10:15 a.m. EST and October 9 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The LCBO will review
each entry and if it meets all guidelines and requirements, the song will be posted
on WhiskyRocks.com where friends, family, and the general public can vote between
October 12 at 10:15 a.m. EST and October 25 at 4:15 p.m. EST. The top 3 finalists
with the most votes will win a slot to open for The Trews on November 8th in Barrie, ON,
where a panel of judges and the Trews will then select one winner. The winners will be
announced at whiskyrocks.com on November 9th.

Tickets to the Trews show and Whisky tasting cost $25 and are available online
at ticketbreak.com, by phone at 1-866-943-8849, at impactlive.ca ticket outlets, or at the
door. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will benefit Dixon Hall, a United Way member
agency and its Music School program, which provides youth with music instruction and
opportunities to attend music camps across Ontario.

Concertgoers must be 19 years of age or older and valid ID is required.

For full rules and regulations for the Whisky Rocks Showdown Competition, visit
whiskyrocks.com/competition

Win a Steam Whistle Unsigned 23 Prize Pack!

Well, you know what guys? Summer’s pretty much over. As the French say, quel bummér. But wait! There’s one more fun thing you can do before it’s over!

Steam Whistle Brewery is presenting Unsigned 23 – featuring Odonis Odonis, Indian Handcrafts and Young Mother – on September 21st! That’s the day before the Fall Equinox! Technically still summer!

Steam Whistle Unsigned 23

And even better news? I have a Steam Whistle prize pack to give away for it – and it includes (among other glorious things) free admission for Unsigned 23! All YOU need to do is convince me that your summer wasn’t quite good enough. How much do you NEED one more crazy night?

Tell me the thing you DIDN’T get to do this summer that you wanted to do, and the most pathetic person wins! It’s a race to the bottom, folks!

Ready, set, GO!

All ticket proceeds from Unsigned 23 go to the Artists’ Health Centre Foundation,
which is involved in outreach, education, and prevention services for the over 20,000 professional artists who live in the Toronto area.

TO DO LIST: Tonight – S.S. Songs with DJ Andy Rourke of The Smiths

Songs, A Dance Party was supposed to have rocked its last dance floor back in August… but when The Smiths’ Andy Rourke decided to come aboard, it seemed like a good reason to bring it back for one final encore. Only this time, it’s not your regular land-lubber’s dance floor – no, this one is ON A BOAT. 

Captain Andy Rourke

(Artist’s Conception)

TONIGHT, you’ll find me getting nautical to the tunes of Stella Ella Ola,

Dwayne Gretzky‘s awesome covers,

and of course, whatever Mr. Rourke chooses while we cruise the shores of Toronto.

There are still tickets left for this voyage – you don’t even have to gamble for them, Leonardo DiCaprio-in-Titanic style! And also the boat is unsinkable! AND EVEN IF IT ISN’T, WE’RE LIKE RIGHT BESIDE TORONTO SO IT’S FINE AND IT’S STILL WARM OUT ANYWAY SO IT’LL TURN INTO A FUN SWIMMING PARTY! Come out and celebrate the end of summer!

Go find out all the details for tonight RIGHT HERE. Ahoy, matey!

It’s all brought to you by the wonderful Young Lions Music Club, purveyors of fine unconventional events.

(Oh, and although this has been completely overdone – I can’t let an opportunity like this just slip by. And, anyway, we all know that SOMEONE is going to drunkenly try to sing this tonight:)