Sunday, May 10, 2015

CMW Saturday starts with seafood and ends with old punks

The Music Nova Scotia Tiki party hosted by Mike Campbell is a Canadian Music Week tradition for me and, right on schedule, Cam Carpenter gave me a couple of drink tickets as soon as I walked in the back room of the Rivoli at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The always delicious seafood chowder was gone by the time I arrived, but I was still able to avail myself of several tasty scallops, three oysters and some cucumbers, onions and dill pickles.

In addition to the food and drinks, and talking to people I sometimes just see once a year, I also caught three- or four-song sets by Alana Yorke, Don Brownrigg and Gianna Lauren. I preferred the two women, but none of them will have me rushing to hear more of their music.

The Bends
I moved on to The Hideout to see The Bends, a St. Catharines, Ont. quintet that was supported by several parents in the small audience that was on hand to hear its melodic indie pop. "Bikini Atoll" is an ear worm and is on the four-song CD I was given, and a faithful version of The Smiths' "This Charming Man" was appreciated. The rest of the songs were nice, though nothing exceptional, but at least The Bends wasn't a Radiohead cover band.

The Pinholes
I left midway through The Bends' set to catch the end of The Pinholes, who I thoroughly enjoyed the night before at The Paddock. Three young women who were dancing up a storm in front of the stage on Friday were back on Saturday at Cherry Cola's Rock 'N Rolla Cabaret for what was apparently purple and black-striped trouser night for the band. The group's vintage rock-and-roll was just as much fun this time and the lead singer/guitarist unfurled the Singapore flag at the conclusion of the set. A band member gave me a download card and a Pinholes bottle opener at the end of the set, which was a nice touch.

Steve Lane and The Autocrats
Australia's Steve Lane and The Autocrats were up next. The band has been around for several years and while its last four songs were the best of the night, most of their mid-tempo rock songs just seemed to blend into one another and didn't jump out at me.

Red Mass
I strolled up Bathurst Street to Sneaky Dee's to see Montreal quintet Red Mass. Lead guitarist and group founder Roy Vucino and a female keyboardist shared lead vocals in a set of pretty aggressive indie rock and proto-punk songs. It was OK, but I was hoping for more in some way that I'm not exactly sure of.

James O-L and The Villains
I dropped down to Dundas Street to the inexplicably named Magpie Taproom, which has no beers on tap. But luckily it had tall cans of delectable Nickel Brook Headstock IPA. Windsor, Ont. roots rock quintet James O-L and The Villains played in front of the fifth straight small audience I was part of. The performance was a bit unassuming and could have used more of the edge delivered in the band's lone instrumental track. The music was solid, but there was nothing particularly noteworthy about it.

Dead Ships
I returned to Cherry Cola's to see Dead Ships, where Barenaked Ladies' Kevin Hearn and Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning were also on hand. Canning produced the Los Angeles group's new EP, and the up-tempo indie rockers from it were played fervently. I wasn't blown away as I'd hoped to be, but I liked it. Bonus points are assigned for the belly dancer in the window ledge, although there were other women in the club that I would have rather seen shaking it up.

The Meatmen
My night of music ended at Hard Luck Bar with 36-year-old Detroit punk band The Meatmen. "We're the Meatmen … and You Suck!" is the rallying cry of the Tesco Vee-fronted group, and that aggressive attitude was on display throughout the set, which spawned lots of moshing at the foot of the stage and some jerk dumping a beer on me. It was straight-ahead punk rock, augmented with a cover of Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man," and was pretty much what I expected it would be after seeing the group for the first time.

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