Posts tagged ‘dakota tavern’

March 11, 2011

2011 Canadian Music Fest: Zeus is almighty and Billy the Kid could make herself famous

It’s happening again.

The groundswell of support that’s lifted Arts & Crafts’ artists like Stars and Broken Social Scene to wide recognition in Canada and elsewhere has surrounded Toronto band Zeus.

Nina Gandolfo waited at the front of the Horseshoe Tavern stage all night Thursday to see her favourite band, which didn’t begin its set until 12:20 a.m. “The best band ever” and “they’re like the Beatles” and “they care so much about the music, there’s such warmth in it” were among Nina’s words of worship. She’s clearly the leader of the Zeusbolts (every great band needs a name for its followers; other contenders: Zeusters, Zeusheads, Zeusies). They are mostly twenty-something artsy types with sharp enough ears to realize they must turn off the radio in order to find good music.

On Day 2 of this year’s Canadian Music Fest, the Z-bolts sang and danced joyously to every song, and added the kind of energy that’s needed for a terrific show. Zeus have won over a number of critics, both locally and abroad. Their sound is rich and their musicianship worthy of their fans’ effusive praise. A cover of “That’s All” by Genesis was one highlight from this quartet that includes drummer Rob Drake and a trio of frontmen: Carlin Nicholson, Mike O’Brien and Neil Quin.

Formed a couple of years ago, Zeus has members who’ve backed up Jason Collett on nationwide tours. The band plays in Toronto a lot, so there’s ample opportunity to see them in small venues, for now.

Elsewhere on Thursday night, Billy the Kid, aka Kristen Pettinger, from Vancouver wowed fans at the Dakota Tavern. Canada has turned out many excellent female singer/songwriters in the past 10 years or so and Billy the Kid seems poised to join the ranks of Kathleen Edwards, Julie Doiron and Sarah Harmer with her melodious tunes.

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March 10, 2011

2011 Canadian Music Fest: Birds of Tokyo show why they are on top Down Under

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.)

Here’s the full 2011 schedule.