Canadian Music Week (CMW) is an industry conference and music festival that runs in May. This year CMW ran from the 6-10th May and featured some of the biggest names in music including Quincy Jones, Nile Rodgers, Deadmau5, and Dallas Green (aka City & Colour).

There was also a fair shar of Aussies featuging on the CMW line up this year including Audego, Elizabeth Rose, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Mia Dyson, The Lazys, plus so many more. We asked a couple of our favourite Aussie acts playing at CMW to report back on the highlights and lowlights of the festival.


The Trip There: “I applied for Canadian Music Week on a whim, not really thinking through what the consequences of being accepted would be. Rehearsals, making contacts, trying to book shows, applying for a grant, and confirming details like backline and meetings, all while working full-time to gather the funds.

After a hectic layover in LAX, we pulled into Lester B, Toronto’s clean and well-organised airport. A taxi took us to our beautiful artist loft apartment off Dundas Street West, in Little Portugal, which has similar vibes to the multicultural Petrie dishes of Brunswick and Footscray in Melbourne. There are laneways, trams, and lots of foreign restaurants and supermarkets.

Our local bar, Fountain, had a sweet bartender called Kelly. After chatting to her for 5 minutes over a beer and discovering that she also hustles two more jobs by day as art gallery owner and an assistant for a film production company, we realised that Toronto was a city that cared about art. The people who live there also care about partying and being friendly. Bunch of legends, really.”

CMW Highlights: “Quincy Jones was interrupted by a conference MC before he could answer a question from an attendee. He wasn’t happy, and made it very clear on the microphone. It was awesome. Never cut off Quincy Jones.”

Best Performances: “There was a band called The Blancos that were a duo from New York. They’ve got hip-hop production with live guitar and vocal soaring over the top. The front-guy, dirty looking, bearded, had the serious blues. He is Chet Faker, but about thirty times more real. His voice had so much grit, was totally on point with songs and vibe, and the beats he was singing over were really well produced by his musical partner. It was nasty, crack-den stuff, but so beautiful. They were super friendly.”

Aussie Report: “Audego and Elizabeth Rose were the only Australian bands that I saw because we were so busy. Audego, a duo from Melbourne, sounded epic with lots of sub-bass, intelligent beats and floating vocals that remind me of Purity Ring. They are definitely a late-night band, with a soft red light glowing backdrop and a ‘round’ sound all in all. I really enjoyed their set.”

Elizabeth Rose performed in a duo set-up with live vocal effects and a synth player sporting some impressive analogue equipment. Despite coming directly from another show and playing amidst the weird restaurant vibes, she performed well.”

Yeo’s Gigs: “We played at four venues across Toronto: The Gladstone, Handlebar, Czehoski, and Cavern Bar. The crowds were always intimate because we played either early or late sets, but the people who did stick around to watch were quite friendly and made sure to speak to us afterwards.”

Feelings On The Festival: “I get the feeling that despite being in its 32nd year, CMW has a few teething issues – slightly disorganised and underprepared venues, and scarce publicity for showcases. Even so, we played to enthusiastic audiences and met some amazing people who did everything they could to support us.”

Tully On Tully

The Trip There: “The flight over to Canada was far from the best part of the trip. Nat went on her own, three seats to herself on the plane sleeping horizontally but the boys had a terrible flight over, missing connecting flights and having to wait in the LAX United Lounge for nine hours.”

Unfortunately our time in Toronto was short (four days) so we weren’t able to visit the tourist destinations but what we did see we thoroughly enjoyed – we had a particularly good time getting to know some locals who are tremendously nice. We could probably recommend a few bars and restaurants too! Handlebar and Horseshoe Tavern are the two venues we played at and they were both incredible. We also went to a Japanese restaurant where they played a drum every time somebody entered. At some point, Frank Less (drummer) took control and played a short but very intense piece for the whole restaurant.

CMW Highlights: “Nat Foster’s (vocals) highlight at CMW (aside from our shows) was when Nile Rogers walked within a metre of her and smiled at her.

Best Performances: It’s hard to say what the best performance we saw was. Everything was such high quality. Broods from Auckland were awesome as were Jane’s Party, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (obviously) and The Kerouacs. On a larger scale, we are huge fans of Little Dragon who were phenomenal!”

Aussie Report: “I think there were around 28 Australian bands playing at Canadian Music Week this year! We all got around each other and showed as much support as we could which aided in the positive response to all the Aussie showcases. Fairchild, Emma Davis, Mia Dyson, Hoodlem, King Giz, You Am I, Lyon Apprentice, Twin Lakes, Marta Pacek, Yeo … There was a definite buzz around all of the Aussies!”

Tully On Tully’s Gigs: “Our two shows went down well and the crowds got really into them. Handlebar was a great night. It was our official showcase so we were nervous to see if anyone would come, but it seemed our enthusiastic networking and card-swapping at the conferences payed off as there was a great turnout.

The Aussie Barbecue at the Horseshoe was something else. There was real electricity in the air when we were watching the other bands. When we went on there was a massive crowd watching us and the whole show went really smoothly. It’s easily one of the best shows we have ever played.”

Final Thoughts On The Festival: “Finally, the best part of this entire festival has been the people who we’ve met along the way. We had the most amazing time, all the people we met were so receptive of us. We’ll definitely be returning in the future to do it all again.”

Sons Et Al

The Trip There: “I was really interested to check out Canada. We were invited over because we had some great support from Canadian blog on our music and then the festival co-ordinator Iain MacNeil took a punt and invited us over. Hopefully we didn’t disappoint!

Arriving In Canada: “Kyle Tickell (guitars), who picked up the hire car when he landed, forgot Lachie Tickell (bass) was landing an hour after him & left him stranded at the airport. Nick Acquroff (vocals, keys) forgot we were all flying to Toronto and decided to fly to New York instead. Lucky there was a late flight available to Toronto.

We were staying in Euclid Ave, around the corner from Dundas & Queens streets where most of the venues we’re playing at are located. We found the place on AirB&B and the owner of the house turned out to be batshit crazy. She was nice enough just loony, so that made for an interesting few days.

We couldn’t leave the city as we had shows almost every night, but apparently Niagara is only a 2 hour drive away so do that if you get the chance.

CMW Highlights: “The highlights for us were definitely our gigs. We felt they were really well received and even all the new stuff we played which people hadn’t heard before went really really well. We were stoked.”

Best Performance You Saw: “We really liked a Danish trio called Slaughter Beach. They played after us at Dakota Tavern on the Wednesday night and their music is exceptional. You should really check them out. Plus they are all quite handsome.”

Aussie Report: “We played before Elizabeth Rose at Czehoski which went down really really well! She’s a talent. The venue was small and intimate which worked a treat for her.”

Final Thoughts On The Festival: “Amazing. We loved it and cant wait to get back next year”

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