CMW: There and back again

Xray Eyeballs.
Xray Eyeballs.

by Elena Gritzan

The Zolas were one of my favourite bands towards the end of high school. I would drive down the streets of London, ON, sun in my eyes, listening to Tic Toc Tic on repeat. I was drawn in by the catchy piano melodies, the dramatic song structures, and, especially, Zach Gray’s voice. The Vancouver band does not play often in Toronto, so I knew I had to take the opportunity and see their early-evening set at the Horseshoe.

The Zolas.
The Zolas.

The set was entirely composed of material from the more recent Ancient Mars, but my lack of familiarity with the material did not get in the way of enjoying what was a very endearing performance. Grey has incredible stage presence, leaping and balancing on his tip-toes during guitar solos. He decamped into the middle of the floor for the final song, pulling a mic stand and a small keyboard down from the stage with him. The song ended a cappella, which made especially salient the adoring audience members singing along.

While talking about why they love to play in Toronto, Grey said that “you guys like music more than other Canadians.” Well, except for Newfoundlanders, apparently.


Much of the rest of my Friday night ended up being eaten up by travel; Wrongbar might as well be on another planet. But heading out to Parkdale and back was made incredibly worth it for the chance to see Digits perform. Okay, so I’ve seen his sad synth pop a few times before, but it can be a lot of fun to find a CMW set that you know you will enjoy. It was a bit of a mixed crowd (I overheard one guy behind me complaining that “the bass wasn’t dropping”), but a bit of a dance party was going by the end.

We got the chance to see some newer material, including the high-pitched synth melody of “Keeping Secrets”, warnings about the true nature of love (“Love is Only Affection”), and a chance to “Shake Your Body Down.” Most exciting, though, was a new song (only heard in the Yukon so far). New Digits material on the horizon already perhaps? It’s sounding great.

The night ended with a journey back eastward to see Xray Eyeballs at the Silver Dollar. If I had to pick a word for the New York band, I would probably say garage rock, but they were quite a bit polished with the same fast rhythms shared between the guitars, bass, and drums. No typical drum kit here though, the drummer stood upright and swayed along with the music.

After some head bopping and foot tapping, I called it a night slightly early in preparation for Saturday. There are quite a few options for festival-goers tonight – if I could be in three places at once, I would definitely be at Wrongbar for Paradise Animals and Kontravoid, and at the Annex Live for Saturns. Yet I’m one person, so I’ll be at the Silent Shout showcase dancing along. Join us at the Comfort Zone tonight!

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