March is the official start of Festival season, and Canadian Music Week is here! Don’t be overwhelmed, we’ve got our top picks for every night of the fest, which runs from Wednesday, March 21st until the 25th, all over the city. To make your life even easier, they’ve created a Social Media Cheat Sheet, with all the handles and hashtags you need.
Wednesday, March 21st
I Am Oak – Think Akron/Family meets Bon Iver, think Trinity Bellwoods and 1977 Instagram filters, think banjos and your longest lasting Birks. I Am Oak is lovely.
Where to find them: Cameron House (Backroom), @ 9 pm (Also playing The Ossington, Thursday March 22 @ 8 pm and Cabin 5, Saturday March 24 @ 8 pm at the FILTER Magazine Showcase)
Must-Hear Track: Trees and Birds and Fire -DG
Armen at the Bazaar – Armen Bazarian’s songs have a surreal quality to them that would be perfectly at home in a Miranda July dream sequence. (…cuz we’ve all had those, right?)
Where to find him: Rancho Relaxo, 300 College St. at 12 am
Key Track: Anna’s Song -HC
Thursday, March 22nd
The Postelles – This New York City band’s influences include everything from Motown to Woody Allen. Their catchy rock n’ roll sound reminds us of the Strokes (which makes sense, since the Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr. co-produced their EP).
Where to find them: Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St. W.), Thursday @ 9 pm -CH
Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers– If you can’t catch his set with Joel Plaskett at the CN Tower, don’t miss the bearded Nova Scotian at the Rivoli and Sneaky Dee’s. His full-bodied voice can melt a stone cold heart.
Where to find him: Sneaky’s Dee’s @ 10 pm (Also playing Friday March 23 @ 6:05 pm and Rivoli and Saturday March 24 @ 6:30 pm)
Must-Hear Track: Drift Apart -DG
Half Moon Run – Fresh from the whirlwind of showcases at SXSW, this latest Montreal buzz band is a nice mix between Girls and Local Natives. Catch them play with fellow Montrealers Galaxie, Martha Wainwright and The Dears at El Mocambo.
Where to find them: El Mocambo (Downstairs) @ 10 pm (La Belle Province Night presented by SiriusXM) and El Mocambo (Downstairs) Saturday March 24 @ 10:30 pm
Must-Hear Track: Full Circle -DG
Fedora Upside Down – An urban folk collective responsible for some parties on the Toronto scene, Fedora Upside Down believes in celebrating and de-ghettoizing Toronto’s diversity. Expect a mix of genres that is seriously exciting.
Where to find them: Cameron House – Front Room, 295 Queen Street West @ 10 pm -HC
DJ Starting From Scratch – This Canadian hip hop legend will bring down College St.
Where to find him: The Crawford, 718 College St. W. @ 11 pm -BL
Wildlife – These Toronto indie rockers describe themselves as “five energetic, adventurous, youthful barbarians…a contingent of spirited Canadian mountain children.” Their music evokes visions of running through forests, leaping over mountains, and parting the seas.
Where to find them: Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St. W.), Thursday @ 12 am-CH
Hands & Teeth – This Toronto experimental pop group are known for live shows that get everybody dancing.
Where to find them: Sneaky Dee’s, 431 College St. at 12 am -HC
Corinna Rose – The lovely, melodic folk of Corinna Rose will have you feeling instantly warm and nostalgic. We are huge fans.
Where to find her: The Central, 603 Markham St@ 12 am
Must-Hear Track: Green Mountain State -HC
Lake Forest – The folk solo project from Wilderness of Manitoba singer Will Whitwham, these songs were inspired by road trips, Dave Eggers, and frozen evergreens. Marry us?
Where to find him: Cameron House – Backroom, 295 Queen Street West , @ 1 am -HC
Kids and Explosions – Josh Raskin was nominated for an Oscar for his short film I Met The Walrus, and now he’s a DJ who makes songs with names like “Swear Words.” He’s one of the performers selected by Shad for the night he’s curating at the Garrison as part of the Redbull Music Academy/ Young Lion’s Music Club Artist Select Series
Where to find him: The Garrison (1197 Dundas St. W.)
Friday, March 23rd
Arts & Crafts Showcase: Eight and a Half (Infused with members of Broken Social Scene and The Stills), The Darcy’s, and Zeus & More, plus a Special Guest
Where to find it: Horseshoe Tavern, Friday March 23 @ 7:30 pm
Nicolas Jaar – Channeling the minimalist techno stylings of Jamie xx, Nicolas Jaar offers a slower, more sultry Chilean-influenced sound.
Where to find him: Revival Bar, Friday March 23 @ 10 pm
Must-Hear Track: El Bandido -DG
PS I Love You – This duo from Kingston, Ontario has been receiving plenty of attention after their debut album Meet Me At The Muster Station. They understand the importance of epic guitar solos, and use them frequently.
Where to find them: Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St. W.), @ 10 pm -CH
DJ Mensa – Where all the gold you own and pretend you’re Lil Wayne’s girlfriend.
Where to find him: The Crawford, 718 College St. @ 11 pm -BL
Chains of Love – A female duo hailing from Vancouver, BC, Chains of Love combine the nostalgic pop sounds of the 60’s with modern garage rock to create a unique sound that pays tribute to girl groups past and present.
Where to find them: El Mocambo @ 11:30 pm and Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen St. W.), Saturday @ 9:20 pm -CH
Threads of Scarlet – Ever wondered what an alternative rock band who grew up on a tropical island would sound like? Threads of Scarlet, straight from Barbados, are your chance to find out!
Where to find them: Cherry Cola’s Rock N’ Rolla Cabaret, 200 Bathurst Street, @ 12 am -HC
Caveman – After their brief stop at The Horseshoe this past January, the Brooklyn-based indie rockers are back and ready to dominate Toronto with their melodic harmonies and drums galore.
Where to find them: El Mocambo (Downstairs), @ 1:30 am (Dine Alone Showcase)
Must-Hear Track: Great Life -DG
Saturday, March 24th
Ali Shaheed Muhammed – A DJ set from Tribe Called Quest member Ali Shaheed Muhammed. Coolest thing ever? Coolest thing ever.
Where to find him: Cheval, 606 King St. West -HC
Bravestation – This Toronto foursome make music that combines the spacey sound of New Wave with colourful melodies and tribal percussion. It’s all very soothing.
Where to find them: Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen St. W.), Saturday @ 8:30 pm -CH
Snailhouse – Multi-instrumentalist Michael Feuerstack has enjoyed collaborations with members of the Arcade Fire, and is something of a shapeshifter when it comes to his performing style, but lately he’s been playing his beautiful folk with a band.
Where to find him: Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. West @ 9 pm -HC
The Balconies – The Balconies make indie rock that is impossible not to throw your whole body into. Formed at U of Ottawa and familiar on the Toronto scene, they’re just back from SXSW and sure to put on a good show.
Where to find them: The Garrison, 1197 Dundas St. West @ 10 pm -HC
Wintersleep – These Nova Scotia indie rockers just recorded their fifth album with help from Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai) and Dave Friddman (MGMT, Flaming Lips).
Where to find them: Doing double-duty on Saturday. They’re on at the Rivoli (334 Queen St. W.) at 10 pm and the Horseshoe (370 Queen St. W.) at 12:40 am -HC
Sandman Viper Command – If you let these boys from Burlington, who list Pavement and Sonic Youth as influences, into your living room at three in the morning, they’re likely to end up scrawling pictures on pizza boxes with your favourite lipstick.
Where to find them: Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. West@ 10 pm (Also playing on Thursday at The Silver Dollar, 486 Spadina Ave., at 2 am) -HC
Passion Pit – This five-person electropop band from Cambridge, Massachusetts began three years ago as a solo laptop project in lead singer/keyboardist Michael Angelakos’ college dorm room. They’ve been the soundtrack for many of our late night dance parties.
Where to find them: The Canadian Room, Saturday @ 11:15 pm -CH
Sunday, March 25th.
Oberhofer – Gearing up to hit Coachella next month, Oberhofer is a solid fix for your indie rock band needs, with their catchy riffs, their uncanny mix of sounds and heartbreaking lyrics, enough to make you swoon.
Where to find them: Phoenix Concert Theatre @ 8:15 pm w/ The Temper Trap
Must-Hear Track: Away Frm U -DG
The Temper Trap– This Australian band’s “Sweet Disposition” became an international hit after it appeared in “(500) Days of Summer”.
Where to find them: Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne St.), Sunday @ 9:30 pm -CH
Georgia Anne Muldrow – Georgia Anne Muldrow marries her gorgeous soul vocals with free-form style and beats that will have us hypnotized.
Where to find her: Wrongbar (1279 Queen St. W.) @ 11:30 pm
Must-Hear Track: Run Away -DG
~ Haley Cullingham, Desiree Gamotin, Caitlyn Holroyd & Becca Lemire