Toronto’s annual new music marathon, is set to grace our city once again from May 7 – 13. As a showcase style festival, CMW will take up residence at 40 venues all across the city, filling Toronto with both Canadian and international music at every turn. Though this variety of musical choice is what makes CMW such a treat, with 600 artists participating, it’s impossible to see each and every one. To help narrow down your search, here are my top artists to see at CMW.
Monday, May 7 – Lolo Zouai @ The Drake Underground
Though French/Algerian singer-songwriter, Lolo Zouai relocated to the US in her youth, her self-coined “bittersweet bangers” are delivered in both English and French. Last year, Zouai was awarded the prestigious Obe Olman Scholarship by the Songwriters Hall of Fame for her work on H.E.R.’s track “Still Down”.
Monday, May 7 – Matt & Kim @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
Matt & Kim are known for their unapologetically rambunctious tunes, and their live performance captures, and amplifies this perfectly. Expect happy pop music, confetti, Kim standing atop her drum kit, audience participation, and an overall joyful time.
Tuesday, May 8 – The Used @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
A throwback to the side swept hair of yesteryear. I’ll admit that I haven’t been privy to their latest offerings, but there’s something inescapably wonderful about the music from your teenagehood.
Wednesday, May 9 – Birds of Bellwoods @ Horseshoe Tavern
Birds of Bellwoods, bring their folk-pop melodies to the ‘shoe, alongside fellow Torontonians Modern Space and Valley. Featuring lush harmonies, upright bass, and a charismatic frontman, these hometown heroes are always a treat to see live.
Thursday, May 10 – The Bishops @ The Rivoli
Siblings Cara (vocals), Troy (production), and Chris (rapping), whose surname is – you guessed it – Bishop, comprise this Austin trio. Blending influences from the pop, electronic, hip hop, r&b, and jazz soundscapes, they create a sound all their own.
Friday, May 11 – Fucked Up @ Lower Bay Station
The enigmatic Lower Bay Station: home to scenes from Total Recall, Grimes music videos, and alas, no actual working subway. The setting alone is bound to rouse curiosity, but throw in local hardcore sextet, Fucked Up, into the mix, and you know this is going to be a wonderfully rowdy time.
Friday, May 11 – Starcrawler @ Bovine Sex Club
Fresh off their Grulke Prize win for best Developing U.S. Act at SXSW, this LA rock outfit has plenty of well-deserved buzz following in their wake. I had the opportunity to catch one of their sets at SXSW, and it was a terrifyingly imaginative experience, complete with fake blood, contortionism and frontwoman, Arrow de Wilde, generally freaking out the audience. Starcrawler is also opening for Sloan at the free Yonge Dundas Square show on May 12th, but their set is best experienced up close and personal.
Friday, May 11 – Fake Shark @ The Rivoli
This personable electronic indie-pop group out of Vancouver had their tune ‘Cheap Thrills’ placed in an Apple Watch ad last year (which I find mildly ironic due to the not-so-cheap price tag on the gadget). Given the Apple marketing team’s penchant for using pop gems in their advertisements, you can tell that Fake Shark has a polished and incredibly likeable sound.
Friday, May 11 – The Beaches @ The Opera House
Toronto alt-rock “grl band” have been touring across Canada in support of their stellar debut, ‘Late Show’. There’s a very good reason why The Beaches took home the Juno Award for ‘Breakthrough Group of the Year’ a few weeks ago. Go check out the hometown stop on their tour!
Friday, May 11 – Dhruv Visvanath @ Paddock
As one of Guitar Magazine USA’s “30 Great Guitarists Under 30”, Indian singer-songwriter, Dhruv Visvanath, is known for his highly percussive style of guitar playing. Expect some catchy, but intricate, acoustic tunes, and excellent instrumentation. Visvanath is also playing a free show at the Drake One Fifty earlier in the day as well.
Friday, May 11 – Wellbad @ Dakota Tavern
German blues-rockers, Wellbad, make the trip to Toronto to grace the Dakota Tavern on May 11.
Armed with a “voice that will strip paint off cars”, and tunes brimming with swagger, they seem to be just as excited as I am, with a ‘Wellbad Goes Canada’ countdown currently on their Facebook page.
Friday, May 11 – Victoria + Jean @ The Painted Lady
Hailing from Belgium and Sweden, Victoria + Jean weave imaginative tunes, from the frenetic, and theatrically eccentric ‘Holly’, to the swaggering ‘Takes You Like a Rose’, for which the duo released a nine minute music video set in Japan last year.
Saturday, May 12 – cleopatrick @ Longboat Hall
The gradual build of cleopatrick’s single ‘hometown’, grows on you with every single twist and turn. With dates at Lollapalooza and Riverfest Elora this year, a #2 placement on the MTV Russia charts back in February, and a great new tune ‘daphne did it’ released just two weeks ago, I’d wager to say this Cobourg rock duo may not be playing small venues for long. Go earn some hipster points by seeing them before this happens!
Saturday, May 12 – Amber Mark @ Drake Underground
Amber’s Mark’s debut album, ‘3:33’, remains one of my favourite releases of last year. The NYC-based singer songwriter weaves together lush musical soundscapes, mixing upbeat piano-electronic instrumentation with her silky smooth voice. Her latest tune ‘Love Me Right’, released earlier this year, is a similarly sonic delight, with a grin inducing break around the 3 minute mark.