CMF Showcase @ Hard Luck: Saturday, March 24

Royal Canoe (crappy cell phone picture by Michael Thomas)

by Michael Thomas

This Saturday of CMW, like every other past Saturday of CMW, was filled with great showcases happening all over Toronto. Knowing full well that the Horseshoe and Dakota Taverns would be filled to capacity (which they were) I instead went to Hard Luck to see a showcase of several great acts, a few of which I knew and a few of which I knew of.

The venue wasn’t ever really filled, but each act managed to please the crowd in its own way.

Starting off the night was Winnipeg’s Royal Canoe. Considering how complex their Extended Play EP was, I expected a complex stage setup and I most certainly wasn’t disappointed. There were six guys on the small-ish stage, with the possibility of three of those guys tapping something drum-like at the same time. The lead singer was at a keyboard with two mics, there was a bass player behind him, and a keyboardist near centre stage.

Put simply, their set was mind-blowing. It consisted of new tracks, so anything from Co-Op Mode or previous wasn’t included. So no “Kasparov,” to my minor disappointment, but they did play two of the strongest songs from Extended Play, opening their set with “Hold Onto the Metal” and playing “Bathtubs” later on. The band managed to reproduce every song perfectly, even the creepy synthesized/autotuned/whatever voice in “Bathtubs.”

The band moved effortlessly through their songs. At one point, the two guys (one on drum kit, one on drums) switched places and then switched again, but did the second switch so quickly I didn’t notice.

Following them was probably one of Toronto’s favourite indie bands, Papermaps. I don’t even mean that as an exaggeration. The band got probably the most enthusiastic response from the crowd, particularly when they announced they were doing an old song.

It didn’t take long to see what others see in the band. They’re extremely energetic on-stage, the highlight being their performance of “Complicate Things” when the guitarist/keyboardist banged a drum along with the drummer. It was a pretty special moment. Even better was the song the band ended with, “You are my Gallows.” They invited a bunch of people to come on stage and contribute backing vocals while playing various percussion instruments.

Third on the stage was Rococode, a band from Vancouver whom I had heard of by name but knew little more than that. The band suffered some technical setback before they started, which (understandably) seemed to annoy the lead singer. Eventually though, the band got going. It took a song or two for the band to get into its stride, but when it did the energy the band had was definitely there.

Whether the band plays long, complex songs or several shorter ones, I couldn’t really tell. They seemed to play songs in sets of twos, unless they were actually just playing one long song that tricked me into thinking it was two. The vocal chemistry between the guitarist and the keyboardist was pretty fantastic. Their energy went up as the set went along as well.

Sidney York followed their Vancouver friends with the second mind-blowing set of the night for me. I’ve talked about Sidney York’s setup before, but it’s worth repeating: lead singer Brandi Sidoryk rotates between playing keys, French horn, guitar and ukulele, while Sheryl Reinhardt plays oboe and Krista Wodolet plays bassoon. Luke Cyca once again joined them on drums.

To add to this, the band had guitar help from none other than SJ Kardash of Violent Kin, as well as Darcy Fink from hue (there was also a third guitarist for a song, but I didn’t catch his name).

The set itself was all material from Apocaluptic Radio Cynic, with the more upbeat songs getting the crowd moving. The most joyous moment was definitely when the band played the insanely catchy, ukulele-driven “Dick and Jane.” Sidoryk even got the audience to sing along with song’s hook: “Oh where should we go?” She also got the audience singing along with the song “Roll With Me.”

Due to exhaustion as well as time constraints, I couldn’t stay to watch Little Black Dress, though I imagine it would have been a good end to a night. The Hard Luck showcase was undoubtedly one of the more underrated showcases of the night.

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