It’s my third consecutive week of music festivals and I’m still standing and ready for more. Before my journey to Toronto for Canadian Music Week, I’d like to thank Austin for prepping me for the Canadian spring. But there’s someone I forgot to mention in my last SXSW report. I gotta pay respect to the late Brent Grulke, who passed away last August. Brent was SXSW’s festival director and a mentor of mine. I met him in 2007 when he attended M for Montreal. He loved Montreal and its art scene. He didn’t miss a single afterparty, and I’ll never forget the look on his face when he was introduced to Melissa Auf der Maur. I was simply a rookie in the festival world back then, but Brent shared some words of wisdom that I’ll take to my grave. The last time I had a drink with him was in 2010, at a casino in Brighton, U.K. after a Pavement show while watching game seven of the Habs vs. the Pens. BG cheered with all Canadians when the Habs won. This March was the first time in seven years I hadn’t seen him in Austin, but he was definitely there in spirit. Back in the day, I called him Santa ’cause I claimed SXSW was another XMAS in my world. Peace be with you, Mister G, and merci!
Okay, back to Canadian Music Week, 28 years in the making — this is my fourth or sixth time. CMW is not as crazy as SXSW. It’s more suit-and-tie vs. SXSW’s sweaty BBQ stains and Mexican/whiskey farts. There’s a wide variety of panels, shows and hotel lounge shmoozing, with many countries represented. It all takes place in Toronto — I get shit from Quebecers whenever I express my love for this fine town. It reminds of a flatter San Francisco, minus the overwhelming amounts of masturbating hobos. Only downside to this city are the expensive drinks and taxi fares. If I can narrow down the scenesters here, it’s Tegan and Sara lookalikes vs. Dallas Green wannabes with full sleeve tattoos. I do dig the Toronto Bettys tho.
I hit the town with my Toronto buddy Travis. Trav works for the label and management company Upper Class. He represents Cadence Weapon and Russian Futurists. I got Travis his start in the biz when I hired him as an intern for a record company in Orange County years ago. I remember interviewing him over the phone. “Travis, what’s your favorite hockey team?” “The Habs,” said Travis. I replied, “You’re hired!” He became my Partner-in-Cali-Crime to attend games at Hooters or hit up the the Habs when they were in town vs. the Kings or Ducks.
I forgot the name of the first band we saw and I don’t wanna remember either. We then swung by the Garrison Hotel for the BRBR showcase, where I caught Peter Peter. I used to think Peter Peter was basically Coeur de Pirate with chest hair but I was wrong. It’s not every day I feel a franco artist has that crossover potential, but this kid’s got it. Couldn’t help but notice that Greg from the Stills and Malajube’s drummer were backing PP on stage. This kid’s headed for cherry-poppin stardom and many of your little sisters have him on their to-do lists.
Up next was my main man from Quebec City, Karim Ouellet. I call him Karim Toilet, Karim Bobette or even Karim Abdul Ouellet. I once heard he was a professional tennis player, but Karim denies this. This kid’s a star and he’s gonna be around for a long long time. Alt-rock with a hint of reggae-love. He has the presence of a Bishop and I swear I see a halo over his head every once in awhile. He just seems holy and super fucking sweet.
I was going through the CMW calendar and saw an unexpected visitor from Sactown, my boy Raleigh Moncrief. Back in Sac, we call him Robby. He was in a local Nintendo cover band called the Advantage. He has since collaborated with Dirty Projectors, Marnie Stern and Zach Hill. He also happens to be one of the lucky sons of bitches on the Anticon label roster. Robby’s been obsessed with electronics and noise forever, even back when most of you were jerking off to Limp Bizkit. He has enough beats to drive you crazy but always seems to take you on these dreamy floaty trips. He performs solo but operates at least 47 buttons at once. It was a trip to be hangin with him in Toronto. It got awkward when he told me he dated a chick I made out with from Long Beach, meaning we’ve all shared saliva. I bought him an $8 beer to drink and forget aboot it, eh!
I caught the end of Ain’t No Love at the Underground Drake. This band is not only SICK, but I LOVE how French people try to pronounce their name. (They say “Anal Love!”) The band claim they hear it all the time. You got this colourful trio of kids spitting some smooth-ass hip hop while the dude behind the laptop’s straight-up mixing hella dope hip hop/dub/electro. This band might be taking a chance being in Montreal vs. N.Y./L.A. but they will make us proud and go BIG. Catchy, energetic, old school vibes along with the unforgettable, bootyful frontwoman Saidah. She’ll knock your socks off and gut you with her love potion #9. They’re totally playing my birthday party.
I finished off the night at Pop Montreal’s showcase w/ Karneef (see SXSW round 2 for more on Karneef.) On my way out, Liam of the Stills texted me asking to join him at some gay bar. On my way in, I bump into Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene. Sadly, I reminded him about the time we met in a bathroom in L.A. back in 2006 when I was drunk, pissing next to him and staring at his wang while singing BSS songs. He remembered and that’s not a good thing. Anyways, I had missed last call but got a huge bear hug from Liam and his mates. So yep, I ended my first night at a gay bar. Hi Mom!
To be continued. ■