Canadian Music Week 2016 Preview

We are just about two weeks away from the 34th iteration of Canadian Music Week, a weeklong celebration of music culture taking place from May 2nd to May 8th in Toronto. This year’s CMW promises to inspire conversations surrounding storytelling, digital media and diversity in the music industry through film, comedy, panels and live showcases and performances across the city. 

The hot tickets for this year’s CMW are seemingly endless. Whether you’re attending the world premiere of the documentary Hip Hop Evolution, venturing to The Great Hall for a few laughs from up-and-coming comedians like Matt O’Brien and Faisal Butt or catching speakers from top agencies at this year’s Digital Media Summit, you’ll probably wish teleporting really did exist. That’s just a sample of what the comedy and film festivals and conference have to offer, so make sure you take a look at the schedule to find out where you can laugh, cry, learn or in some cases, have all three outcomes. 

The music side of this year’s CMW invites you to celebrate the very best of Canadian music as well as some of the rising stars from around the world with premiere events like the iHEARTRADIO Festival. To the excitement of many, Tegan and Sara are kicking off their return to music at this year’s iHEARTRADIO Festival. Performing ahead of the June 3rd release of their latest studio album Love You to Death, fans can likely expect an early preview of new Tegan and Sara music, including the recently released single “Boyfriend” and “U-Turn”. The success of their last album Heartthrob solidified Tegan and Sara as a major force, so this may be one of the few chances you will get to see the duo outside of a stadium in the coming months. The iHEARTRADIO Festival will also present recent Canadian breakout star Shawn Hook and alt-rock band X Ambassadors who, following years of finding online success and collaborations with Jay Z and Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, return to Toronto to share their 2015 debut album VHS

CMW continues to value and celebrate the spirit of the independent music with the annual Indies award show. Co-presented with Toronto radio station Indie88, this year’s ceremony features performances from Juno-award winning acts The Strumbellas and Wintersleep. With new albums out in 2016 and a track record of being two of the brightest in today’s Canadian music landscape, The Strumbellas and Wintersleep are promising acts to catch, with more to be announced shortly. The Indies is always a fun and intimate showcase of great local and international acts; with it taking place at The Phoenix Concert Theatre on May 4th, it may be one of the harder but most worthwhile events to attend at this year’s festival.

Given the depth of the music scene in Canada, it is fantastic that CMW is also partnering with Wayhome, M For Montreal, Osheaga and Spotify to highlight even more burgeoning talent. Drake and PartyNextDoor-endorsed Amir Obé will bring his cutting rhymes and moody swirls all the way from Brooklyn to the Wayhome showcase alongside electro-pop duo Humans for an eclectic evening at The MOD Club. Although Spotify has yet to announce who will be performing at their showcase on May 5th, Osheaga x CMW offers the critically acclaimed Dilly Dally along with fresh talent Foreign Diplomats, Le Trouble, The Damn Truth and Motel Raphael while M For Montreal presents artists like Duchess Says and The Posterz. If you want a sense of what heavyweight tastemakers are placing their bets on for the future of music, these showcases are probably your best bet.

It is difficult to select where you should be heading every single evening when CMW is curating several phenomenal events in the city.  Singer Tori Kelly will commemorate her successful debut Unbreakable Smile with a memorable evening at the historic Massey Hall, an ideal place for Kelly’s immense vocal talent. CMW-goers will be treated at Skepta’s show, which takes place in Toronto the same day as the release of his newest studio album, Konnichiwa. We’re placing our bets on a Drake cameo, whose fourth album Views From the 6 will be released by the time Skepta rolls through town with his heavy take on hip-hop and grime music. After a successful run at this year’s SXSW, alt-R&B singer and 2015 CMW performer Låpsley is poised to takeover Toronto once more when she performs at The MOD Club on May 3rd. Let’s not forget that classic acts including Collective Soul, who will close their Canadian tour in Toronto, punk-rock The Black Lips and Eagles of Death Metal will also be headlining CMW this year. 

Lest we not forget Canadian darling Lights, who will be bringing her recently released acoustic album Midnight Machines to two nights at the Danforth Music Hall during CMW. White Lung and Yuna are also two highly recommended acts at this year’s festival, but when in doubt – just walk into a venue and see what happens. That’s half the fun anyway. 

Be sure to be part this years amazing festival. Get your CMW tickets here!


About author

Mehek is a Toronto-based writer who dwells in music, film, tech, and everything in between. Find her on Twitter at @whatthemehek where she’s probably talking about the latest release, sharing GIFs, or retelling her awkward encounter with Childish Gambino.