Home Festivals SPILL FESTIVAL REVIEW: INDIE WEEK 2017

SPILL FESTIVAL REVIEW: INDIE WEEK 2017

by SPILL EVENTS
Indie Week

Indie Week 2017

Toronto, Ontario

November 7-12, 2017

Danielle Bourjeaurd @ The Mod Club Theatre
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Etno @ The Mod Club Theatre
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Luna Li @ The Mod Club Theatre
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Moon Tan @ The Mod Club Theatre
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Rochester @ The Mod Club Theatre
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Tokyo Taboo @ The Mod Club Theatre
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Trampa @ The Mod Club Theatre
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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HMS Morris @ Cherry Cola’s
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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The Empty Page @ Cherry Cola’s
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Tokyo Taboo @ Cherry Cola’s
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Tiger And Bloom @ The Garrison
(Photos by Morgan Harris)

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The Empty Page @ The Paddock
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Sigrun Stella @ Nocturne
(Article by Susana Meza)

Based in Toronto, Sigrun Stella is an Icelandic singer-songwriter that delivers beautiful melodies to leave you inspired. Backed by her band, her performance of “Winter Pony” was especially haunting and had this profoundly dreamy nature to it. I saw them at Nocturne, and I can’t wait to be able to hear Sigrun Stella live once more, since it was a mellow way to transition from one venue to the other and a great musical find.


Sigrun Stella @ Nocturne
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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SLOW DEATH LIGHTS

SLOW DEATH LIGHTS

Slow Death Lights @ Cherry Cola’s
(Article by Susana Meza)

Another band that released a self title album this year, and what an album this is! So heavy and pure, plus the singer’s voice, so sweet in spite of its force, makes this such a unique rock album. Their performance was as good as their album is and I will definitely give it many spins in the next few months. It’s the kind of record that once you fall for, you won’t get tired of it, at all.


Slow Death Lights @ Cherry Cola’s
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Shenah Ko @ The Garrison
(Photos by Morgan Harris)

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Rusty @ The Mod Club Theatre
(Photos by Morgan Harris)

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RETURN FOR REFUND

RETURN FOR REFUND

Return For Refund @ The Bovine Sex Club
(Article by Susana Meza)

Return for Refund were gritty, fun, and made us act as if it were a weekend and not a week day. It was clear from their performance that they are not the type of people who wait for the weekend in order to get down and dirty. They intensified this celebration with their sound, and my love for their music intensified with their cover of “Psycho Killer” from The Talking Heads.

“I know, I know, that it sounds as if I love everything but I do not, it’s Indie Week that curates a great festival, so no matter which venue I visit, I know that there will be solid music to be heard and great performers, such as Return for Refund, to be seen.”


Return For Refund @ The Bovine Sex Club
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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REBEL HERO

REBEL HERO

Rebel Hero @ The Bovine Sex Club
(Article by Susana Meza)

Rebel Hero brought the funk to the Bovine Sex Club. It was hard not to dance during their set, and the big crowd that had already gathered in this legendary venue got down and joined in the celebration. The band was incredibly fun and their cover of “Kiss”, originally by Prince of the Revolution brought the house down. This is definitely a band I plan to see again and I hope they have some shows in the winter, because they certainly know how to warm up a crowd.


Rebel Hero @ The Bovine Sex Club
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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RADIANT DIVIDE

RADIANT DIVIDE

Radiant Divide @ The Bovine Sex Club
(Photos by Susana Meza)

Radiant Divide describes the sound of their new single as Joan Jett meets Guns ‘n Roses, which is truly an accurate description: The lead singer has that Joan Jett’s raw energy and the rest of the musicians delivered very solid rock and roll. I caught them at Bovine Sex Club and I must admit that I loved seeing them there since it is a perfect venue for their sound.


Radiant Divide @ The Bovine Sex Club
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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CRISIS CTRL CLUB

CRISIS CTRL CLUB

Crisis Ctrl Club @ Nocturne
(Article by Cheyenne Freitas)

This three piece turned two piece opened the showcase on an impressive note. I would be lying if I said that lead singer and guitar/keys player, Jason, didn’t sound like Pete Wentz, but a touch more alternative. Drummer Tyler-James had excellent energy throughout the entire set. Overall, the band played catchy songs that were not too pop, but not too electric.


EINARINDRA

einarIndra

einarIndra @ Nocturne
(Article by Cheyenne Freitas)

This Icelandic artist had a rocky start and some technical issues. Part way through the first song, lead singer Einar actually hopped off stage to try and fix his microphone to no avail.

einarIndra is known for his electronic beats balanced out by distinct, soothing vocals, but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards for him during this showcase. While there is definite talent there, unfortunate circumstances seemed to overshadow this.


VÆRISA

VÆRISA

Værisa @ Nocturne
(Article by Cheyenne Freitas)

It took four years for Zeke Mountain (who plays what seems like everything) to persuade lead singer, Kierah Taylor, to leave her hometown of Seattle and come to Toronto, eventually forming Værisa. The band has rotating drummers and violinists who complete the four piece, while Zeke and Kierah are the permanent members. They fall into a niche genre; somewhat rock, orchestral, and electronic, all at the same time. The violin definitely captured the crowds attention, as did Kierah’s powerful voice. A thoroughly enjoyed performance by a band who came very close to winning that evening’s competition.


VæRisa @ Nocturne
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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NTTX

nTTx

nTTx @ Nocturne
(Article by Cheyenne Freitas)

I entered Nocturne not knowing who nTTx was, but left a fan. This act drew the biggest crowd I’ve seen at any Indie Week showcase this year (there were even band t-shirts amongst the fans), and understandably so. From his first moments on stage, it was obvious that this guy was a pro. Gord Clement, who is behind nTTx, performed original work, as well as a solid cover of ‘Tainted Love.’ Clement embraced his own technical issues with humour and performed through them with class. By the end of the set, there was a demand for an encore (no, it didn’t happen) and a unanimous decision that nTTx take the top spot of the night. His heavy synth sounds and strong vocals can be heard competing in the semi-finals on November 11.


nTTx @ Nocturne
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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MOON TAN

MOON TAN

Moon Tan @ Cherry Cola’s
(Article by Susana Meza)

I wanted to turn on my cellphone and start messaging all of my friends to tell them: “You are missing the rebirth of rock and roll” once Moon Tan got on stage. Even before their performance, their distinct look was alluring and haunting. This trio of supremely skilled musicians fascinated the audience and delivered such a passionate performance. The stage and everywhere around them felt as it if were enveloped in magic fire, perhaps it was, perhaps we were.


Moon Tan @ Cherry Cola’s
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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MISSING TAKES

MISSING TAKES

Missing Takes @ Coalition T.O.
(Article by Susana Meza)

Hailing from Porto Alegre, Brazil, Missing Takes delivered a very good indie-pop set at Coalition, Toronto. They excused themselves for being the least heavy band that was playing that night during the Brazilian showcase at this great and dark Kensington market venue, however, they really did not need to excuse themselves at all. The songs from Uneven Tides (2017) filled the air with good energy and it was a good way for me to start a night of venue hopping.


Missing Takes @ Coalition T.O.
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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MINETA CHERRY

MINETA

Mineta @ Cherry Cola’s
(Article by Susana Meza)

There is not enough time and space for me to talk about how much I love this band. They were one of the first bands I saw live when I first came to Toronto nearly 3 years ago, they caught me and haven’t let me go, they make me want to run away with the circus, they make me want to break glass, they make me want to smear the blood of their members all over my face – just as an spectator did during their gig.


Mineta @ Cherry Cola’s
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Martin Atkins @ Nocturne
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Honey Beard @ The Paddock
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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GRASS GROWS BACK

GRASS GROWS BACK

Grass Grows Back @ Cherry Cola’s
(Article by Susana Meza)

Before this show I heard this album on a loop, the sound absorbed me, undiluted rock. This is the type of band that makes me go ‘They should be famous’, not because they are pop and follow a specific formula, but exactly because of the contrary, they are incredibly talented musicians, their singer is charismatic and evidently passionate about what he’s singing. I danced and everyone around me danced to, the flow of the songs is just perfect, they offered their CD to audience members and I recommend you to get one too.


Grass Grows Back @ Cherry Cola’s
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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ENSH

ENSH

Ensh @ The Supermarket
(Article by Susana Meza)

Ensh at The Supermarket was an act I had been looking forward to since first listening to the truly beautiful records Both of Them Milenko (2016) and Belgrade (2014) . The reality was just as good as my dreams and Ensh made many of us dance with his graceful presence on stage and truly gorgeous voice that even delivered a flawless rendition of “Enjoy” by Bjork. If you did not catch Ensh, you can still enjoy all of their music for free at Bandcamp: https://ensh.bandcamp.com/album/both-of-them-milenko


Ensh @ The Supermarket
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Dearly Beloved @ The Mod Club Theatre
(Photos by Morgan Harris)

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BODY SPRAY

BODY SPRAY

Body Spray @ Cherry Cola’s
(Article by Susana Meza)

Someone who had heard this band before told me not to stand too close during the set, that they were too loud and that the singer was obnoxious. Having heard Hell (2016) before the show, I knew why that person had given me such honest advice. This noise rock band is not for everyone, but it definitely is for me. I loved their energy and their sound, overwhelming for some – but perfectly loud and clear for me.


Body Spray @ Cherry Cola’s
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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Andrea Romalo @ The Dakota Tavern
(Photos by Morgan Harris)

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Jerry Leger & The Situation @ The Dakota Tavern
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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TYLER SIMMONS

TYLER SIMMONS

Tyler Simmons @ Nightowl
(Article by Cheyenne Freitas)

You would never know that their performance at Nightowl was only their third together as a band. These guys were incredibly well-rehearsed, skilled musicians who gave a high energy performance. Seventeen-year-old Tyler Simmons, the lead singer, is an absolute natural on stage, belting out original songs like a pro. The band’s cover of Harry Styles’ ‘Sign of the Times’ was darker and moodier than the original, and featured a beautiful guitar solo from Simmons. The real gem of the seven-song set was ‘It Could Be You,’ a dedication to Simmons’ girlfriend. Stunning harmony between lead vocal and lead guitar really set the mood, ending off what was the toughest act to follow.


MICHELLE THIBODEAU

MICHELLE THIBODEAU

Michelle Thibodeau @ Nightowl
(Article by Cheyenne Freitas)

Michelle’s crystal-clear voice was likeable from her first song. Touching upon everything from her feelings of the current state of the world (‘Nobody’s Victim’) to not really having a home (‘Vagabond’), Thibodeau’s set was all about personal experience. Despite her stature, her personality and powerful voice took up the whole stage. She has that ability to annunciate and project perfectly, making me think she’d do well on Broadway. By her second song, the entire audience had stopped any chatter and seemed captivated by the 23-year-old singer.


BENJAMIN DAKOTA ROGERS

BENJAMIN DAKOTA ROGERS

Benjamin Dakota Rogers @ Nightowl
(Article by Cheyenne Freitas)

Benjamin Dakota Rogers immediately got the audience’s attention with a six-foot cello and folky tune. Self-proclaimed farm boy and lead singer, Rogers, has an undeniable passion for music. At first listen, one immediately draws comparisons to Mumford and Sons, but this quickly disappears as the second song begins (Rogers is a little feistier than Mumford). Towards the end of his set, Rogers exchanges his guitar for a fiddle and the cello player takes the guitar. We are left with an explosive duet featuring no vocals, but even more audience enthrallment. Rogers went on to be the winner of this showcase and will be competing in the semi-finals on November 11 for a chance to tour Europe next year. Fingers crossed.


JEREMY DE FREITAS

JEREMY DE FREITAS

Jeremy de Freitas @ Nightowl
(Article by Cheyenne Freitas)

The charisma and confidence of this singer is undeniable. He started off his set using a background track, which definitely didn’t have as much of an impact as when he played his guitar. The crowd was loving de Freitas, who prompted a mid-set selfie competition and encouraged the audience to really engage with each other. While this certainly got everyone’s attention, it did shift some of the attention away from the music and towards the cell phones. However, de Freitas has a clear raw talent and commands the stage incredibly well.


INDIE WEEK PANEL

INDIE WEEK PANEL

PANEL: Festivals and Bookers of Toronto @ The Hideout
(Article by Cheyenne Freitas)

Featuring the wisdom of Noel Copeman (Underground Garage), Andrea England (Four Chords & The Truth), Jheanelle Henry (Rebel Wailer), Yvonne Matsell (Independent and co-founder of NXNE), and Mar Sellars (Mar on Music). The panel dove into how artists should and should not try to get on the festival bill. The opening line of advice: “Have your shit together,” courtesy of 26-year veteran Yvonne Matsell. “So many bands think they’re randomly going to be good enough for a festival…but you need to actively have something going on.” A good, honest start. Playing a room of 10 like a room of 200, staying humble, and waiting for the right moment to request a spot in a festival were other words of wisdom. Trying to get the attention of labels? Well, you have between three and five seconds per song to impress A&R, so keep your best hits on the top of your record. Oh, and once you submit your music to a festival booker, step away from the computer. “If you’re going to be accepted, you’ll get the call or email. Just back off and cross your fingers.” Duly noted.


RVNNERS

RVNNERS

RVNNERS @ The Hideout
(Article by Susana Meza)

Many songs about break ups, bad relationships, and in the words of the singer: ”All my songs are bitter romantic songs” but how powerful, soulful and rocking all of the songs were. I caught the party a bit late but this was a great way to get my night started. The showmanship of the singer and of the rest of the band was great. ”My dreams are trying to kill me”, the singer also said. I am sure those dreams also ignited some of the great melodies that display his diverse vocal range. I will be listening to their single “Return to Earth” over and over again after their great first Indie Week set.


RVNNERS @ The Hideout
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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TOKYO TABOO

TOKYO TABOO

Tokyo Taboo @ The Hideout
(Article by Susana Meza)

Please do yourself a favor and listen to 6th Street Psychosis right now; it is such a powerful, feminine, and electrifying album, filled with intensity and beauty. Their song “Pussy Power” is definitely a new anthem of mine. And if you happen to be in Toronto, make sure you catch any or even better, all of their Indie Week performances. This UK band is fantastic and their lead singer is a magical performer, she even reminded me of my beloved Nina Hagen. If you want to be part of a performance that will be burnt in your brain for a lifetime, see Tokyo Taboo, and hey, they might even invite you to mosh on stage with them.


Tokyo Taboo @ The Hideout
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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EARLY HOURS

EARLY HOURS

Early Hours @ The Hideout
(Article by Susana Meza)

This South African band has an EP out called First Light, which contains five lovingly crafted songs. They are fun, their music is fun and their stage personas are wonderful too. I was excited to see if the sound of their EP would translate well live and it certainly did; a must of Indie Week. I wish this band the best and cannot wait to hear more of them in the near future.


Early Hours @ The Hideout
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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WILD PLANES

WILD PLANES

Wild Planes @ The Hideout
(Article by Susana Meza)

Many songs about break ups, bad relationships, and in the words of the singer: ”All my songs are bitter romantic songs” but how powerful, soulful and rocking all of the songs were. I caught the party a bit late but this was a great way to get my night started. The showmanship of the singer and of the rest of the band was great. ”My dreams are trying to kill me”, the singer also said. I am sure those dreams also ignited some of the great melodies that display his diverse vocal range. I will be listening to their single “Return to Earth” over and over again after their great first Indie Week set.


Wild Planes @ The Hideout
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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CABLE STREET

CABLE STREET

Cable Street @ The Hideout
(Article by Susana Meza)

I had been working for over twelve hours at this point of the night, between my day job and my music-related work, but this did not stop me from dancing  to the sounds of Cable Street until the very end. I said it before and I’ll say it again, this is a great band and they stand out even in this talent filled festival. I hope to catch them once more and since they are Canadian, I do hope I catch them again and again.


Cable Street @ The Hideout
(Photos by Susana Meza)

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