Birds of Tokyo proved why you should always get a wristband for Canadian Music Fest. On the first night of the 2011 edition, this polished Australian quartet rocked through a tight set of songs that has won them much acclaim Down Under.
In their home country they’re headliners. Silversun Pickups (one of my fave bands) opened for them during a recent tour that went from Perth to Sydney.
In Toronto this week, Birds of Tokyo are among 800 bands vying for attention from industry types and, perhaps more importantly, from you and me. One wristband costs $75 on the CMF website and will get you into a bunch of shows taking place at 55 venues through Sunday.
At the Phoenix on Wednesday night, lead singer Ian Kenny commanded the stage with a confident swagger that made it clear he and his band have done this many times before. Birds of Tokyo won the Best Rock Album award at the 2010 ARIAs (Australia’s Grammys) in November. The highlight of their set was “Plans”, one of their hits in Oz. They’re sure to play that again when they hit the El Mocambo on Thursday night (9:30 p.m.) for their last set at the CMF.
Other bands I aim to see in the next couple of days:
Billy the Kid – Vancouver acoustic act that’s worked with Raine Maida and Garth Hudson. (The Dakota, Thursday, 11 p.m.)
James Vincent McMorrow – Irish singer/songwriter and they tend to always be good. (Great Hall, Friday, 9:30 p.m.)
The Jezabels – Another Australian band, this one with a wonderful lead singer (Hayley Mary) whose voice will remind you of Kate Bush and Florence Welch. (Lee’s Palace, Friday, 10 p.m.)
Big Sugar – Gordie Johnson and his reunited band that made some noise about 20 years ago around town. (Sound Academy, Friday, 11 p.m.)
A Friend in London – Quiet, pop rockers have made some big noise in their home country of Denmark. (Mitzi’s Sister, Friday, 1 a.m.)