Once a year the typically silent corridors of the plush Fairmont Royal York Hotel are all a buzz with impromptu jams and buskers, transforming the hotel as the hub for Canadian Music Week. For four intense days a multitude of industry folk gather for conferences, workshops, and the largest new music festival in Canada, highlighted by the 9th annual Indie Awards.
This is the 2nd year the awards were held in the Canadian Room, a venue apt for the more subdued film honors with tapestry carpet, chandeliers, architectural columns, and decked out waiters, but a little sterile for rock’n roll. Past Indies held at The Docks had the grunge and grit that coincide with the dog-eared stamina that make the Indie Music Awards distinctive and fresh. Venue preference aside, this year’s Indies had all the components of new and old rock, new agers, techno beauties and a bellowing “beast”.
Montreal comedian, Jon Lajoie, hosted this year and entertained with a predictable raunchy musical rap. Stick to stand up Jon.
I was disappointed that I missed Chart Attack’s favourite album winners, Hey Rosetta’s performance, but made it just in time to see favourite pop group winners, The Midway State. With their blend of beautiful rock, piano and the soulful vocals of Nathan Ferraro, Midway State pumped out tunes from their latest disc Holes, “Change For You” being a crowd fav.
Bif Naked, looking chic in her all black ensemble, fittingly took centre stage to introduce “a band that after 30 plus years can still deliver face melting metal rock, Anvil. Gaining notoriety with their self-titled documentary movie, Anvil hammered out two classic metal tunes that had everyone fist to air pumping. Playing true to his bad boy persona, Steve “Lips” Kudluv, sheepishly asked if “the girls came with it”, as he accepted the Hall of Fame Inductee tribute. But even he couldn’t hold back his true humble nature as he confessed that “this is the most beautiful moment of my life.”
Loving their high-energy radio hit “The Boss is Coming”, I was keyed up to see Hamilton’s Arkelles in the flesh. Carousing the stage with their brand of bluesy soul tinted with a blast of heavy guitar riffs, this five piece kicked the Indies into high gear. Showcasing four songs from their debut, Jackson Square, unpretentious but charismatic frontman, Max, wooed the crowd into snapping, clapping and even got us into a few “hey hey heys”. Topping it all off with a stellar rendition of ‘The Boss is Coming”, the Arkells left us breathless and wanting more.
After watching cutie, Lights, accept her second of two Indies, one for favourite single “Drive My Soul” and the other for favourite solo artist, it was time for some “Beast”. Singer Beatrice Bonafassi, (remember DJ Champion?) teams up with composer, drummer Jean- Phi Goncalves to form this eclectic duo of experimental trip hop. For her part, Betty, as she’s known, has these powerful pipes with an operatic range but can still spew out a dense sick rap. Think of a rapp’n Annie Lennox, both have that ambiguous guise too. Paired with Jean-Phi’s edgy composition and drum beats, the result is a distinctively unique sound that works.
Unfortunately, I had to miss USS and Crystal Castles, as my CMW companion promised to see his friend’s band play at The Central. Not too much of a loss though as Toronto’s Ocean Ship played a decent set and Ireland’s Skibunny ended the evening with some Irish flare.
2009 INDIES WINNERS
ChartAttack.com FAVOURITE ALBUM
Hey Rosetta! - Into Your Lungs (Sonic Records)
ASTRAL MEDIA RADIO FAVOURITE SINGLE
Lights - Drive My Soul
FAVOURITE SOLO ARTIST
The Trews - Hold Me In Your Arms
FAVOURITE LIVE ARTIST/GROUP
inDiscover.net FAVOURITE ARTIST/BAND WEBSITE
Hey Rosetta! - www.heyrosetta.com
FAVOURITE BLUES ARTIST/GROUP
Daddy Long Legs
FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S ARTIST/GROUP OR DUO
FAVOURITE CLASSICAL ARTIST/GROUP
FAVOURITE COUNTRY ARTIST/GROUP
FAVOURITE ELECTRONIC ARTIST/GROUP OR DUO
FAVOURITE FOLK/ROOTS ARTIST/GROUP
FAVOURITE FRANCOPHONE ARTIST/GROUP
Plants and Animals
FAVOURITE JAZZ ARTIST/GROUP
FAVOURITE METAL ARTIST/GROUP
FAVOURITE POP ARTIST/GROUP
The Midway State
FAVOURITE PUNK/HARDCORE ARTIST/GROUP
Protest The Hero
FAVOURITE ROCK ARTIST/GROUP
Matt Mays & El Torpedo
FAVOURITE URBAN ARTIST/GROUP
FAVOURITE WORLD ARTIST/GROUP OR DUO
FAVOURITE INTERNATIONAL GROUP
Nine Inch Nails
FAVOURITE INTERNATIONAL SOLO ARTIST
FAVOURITE INTERNATIONAL ALBUM
Taylor Swift - Fearless (Big Machine)
FAVOURITE INTERNATIONAL SINGLE
Writer: Lisa Kerr