The annual Canadian Music Week pub crawl

by W. Andrew Powell

The 2008 edition of Canadian Music Week is already under way, but the real action doesn’t get rolling until tonight when clubs across the city open their doors for three nights of music. All told, there are over 500 artists participating in this year’s CMW, playing at 40 venues across the city.

So, how do you get in on the action? And how will you figure out which bands to see?

The first part is easy – most venues involved in CMW charge a price at the door, but the real deal is to pick up a festival wristband, which costs $35 and gets you into almost any show during the run of the festival (space permitting – more on that in a minute). Ticketmaster is selling wristbands, or you can buy one at just about any CMW event.

Now, the hard part is deciding where to go, but that has become easier with the wonderful world of MySpace. If you head over to the CMW festival page, the full schedule is available online, including links to each band’s website or MySpace page. Not sure what a band will be like? Chances are good if you Google any band, you’ll find a link to MySpace.

The other option is to just head out to a venue and see what you think. Venue hopping can be a lot of fun, but it gets increasingly difficult to get into venues the later the night gets, and the big shows are bound to fill up early. There is really nothing worse than being stuck outside at 5 minutes to midnight waiting to see if you’ll be let in, so just don’t be surprised if venue hopping results in some disappointment.

To give you a bit of a leg up, here are my top picks for bands to check out over the next few days of CMW ( This will be my seventh year attending the festival, so I’d like to think I’m getting a bit better at finding interesting acts. Time will of course tell…

There are lots of great shows on the first night of the festival, not the least of which is the trippy lineup at the El Mo, Birds of Wales at Lee’s, and Sloan at Supermarket. But, for my money, I’m morbidly curious to see Econoline Crush (!) at Tattoo. Strange, but true.

Drake Underground
Small Sins – 12:00 AM

El Mocambo – 1st Floor
Creature – 11:00 PM
The Besnard Lakes – 12:00 AM
Les Breastfeeders – 1:00

Lee’s Palace
Rebekah Higgs – 9:00 PM
6ixty8ights – 10:00 PM
Jason Collett – 11:00 PM
Birds of Wales – 1:00 AM

Meligrove Band – 11:20 PM
Sloan – 12:20 AM

Tattoo Rock Parlour
Econoline Crush – 9:00 PM
Rides Again – 12:00 AM
Grady – 1:00 AM

A few singer/songwriter types leapt out at my from tonight’s schedule, including Don Brownrigg, Hayley Sales, and personal favorite Lindi Ortega. The rock show on the other hand is all at the Horseshoe for Chart’s usual showcase. Can’t miss performances of the night will be Inward Eye followed by Danko Jones and Hey Rosetta!

Holy Joe’s
Alysha Brillinger – 9:55 PM
Don Brownrigg – 11:00 PM

Arkells – 10:10 PM
Inward Eye – 11:10 PM
Danko Jones – 12:10 AM
Hey Rosetta! – 1:20 AM

Phoenix Concert Theatre
(Limited wristbands-passes accepted)
Hayley Sales – 7:00 PM
Justin Nozuka – 8:30 PM

Lindi Ortega – 9:00 PM

There are less noteworthy shows for me tonight, but there is one big show making up for it – The Indies at the Royal York’s Canadian Room. Lowest of the Low will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and The New Pornographers will be performing as well. I’m also really curious to see Dog Day and Cancel Winter.

Canadian Room (inside Royal York Hotel)
(Limited wristbands-passes accepted – $25 Advance, $35 Door)
The Indies – Starting at 7:00 PM
Includes Spirits, Young Galaxy, Attack In Black, The Cliks, Lowest of the Low, Besnard Lakes, Tokyo Police Club, and The New Pornographers

Lee’s Palace
Sunriser – 9:00 PM
Rock Plaza Central – 10:00 PM

Library Bar (inside Royal York Hotel)
Julie Crochetiere – 11:00 PM

Rancho Relaxo
Fox Jaws – 11:00 PM
Cancel Winter – 12:00 AM

Dog Day – 11:00 PM

Stay tuned – I’ll have photos from the shows I check out, along with quick reviews.

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