Your Survival Guide for Canadian Music Week

Dear Canadian Music Week (CMW) organizers,

If you move it, they will come.

Well, to be totally honest, you could’ve let the lions and lambs of March continue to fight this party out and we still wouldn’t have missed a minute. But with the schedule change, we hope the weather will be much more conducive to people standing awkwardly in front of the venue trying to decide which of the two lines their wristband gets them past (caution: probably neither). Of course, with the remnants of Ice Age 2013-14 still refusing to release this city from its grip, we suggest everyone plays it safe and plans for the worst.

So let’s get this out of the way: there’s really nothing special about the 2014, and thus, 32nd edition of CMW, except, well, everything. It’s a week of such diverse celebration and entertainment that it almost has no business simply calling itself a “music week.” Conference. Music Festival. Comedy Festival. Film festival. Independent Music Awards. Tradeshow. Marketplace. Ok, true, most of those things are tied together by one common aural theme. But really, what is CMW? How about five nights, 60 venues, and over 1000 live acts? Music to our ears, indeed.    

So where do you start? What do you need to know? What should you bring and who should you leave behind? Well, young professionals (YPs), you’ve come to the right place. We present 11 tips, tricks, and questionable recommendations that will help you navigate this exhaustive audio/visual utopia. (What, you thought utopia wouldn’t be tiring?)

1. In case you’ve never been, people already know about this thing. A lot of people. Shows will be busy, lineups will be long, and because of the bracelet arrangement, it’ll be first come first serve with no guarantee of admission. So get that bracelet arranged and get there early. The good news is that early almost always comes with a bonus prize: seeing a local band you didn’t come for, had never heard of, and didn’t know you loved until now. Even better if they sell cool tees that’ll keep you looking “indie.”  

2. Despite the implication of the name, there are plenty of acts we only wish we could call our own. Big ones, too: M.I.A., Little Dragon, Television, Neko Case, Ellie Goulding, OFF!, Dodos, Woods, and perhaps the duo we’re always most excited to see, No Age

3. Don’t worry your pretty little #WeTheNorth head though, in addition to the impressive list of international party crashers, a serious northern uprising will besiege this city as well: Tegan and Sara, City and Colour, Born Ruffians, the King Khan and BBQ Show, The Hidden Cameras, Wildlife, The Strumbellas, and Hollerado.

4. Though thankfully, even with the expansive lineup of home team talent, not all Canadian performers are welcome. Phew. Word is he’s busy practicing his “Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct” impression for the next time he does something “celebrity.”

5. Sets are short. Much like this point. And this guy. But man, can he ever get you hooked on Game of Thrones.

6. Though most venues are conveniently situated within the loose geographical borders of the downtown core, concert mapping and travel logistics are key to earning maximum bracelet value. But since cabs in this city are too expensive, and we’re convinced the TTC stands for “We’re Almost Definitely Short-Turning This Thing Before We Get There, So Why Bother Even Getting On?” (hopefully our editors will tighten that acronym up a bit), we propose a personal vehicle of the two-wheeled variety. Ours is named Poppy. You’ll see why in a second. 

If new to the idea, we assure you don’t have to grow a thick beard or shell out for a full sleeve; you definitely don’t have to wear one of those hats, buy a Chrome bag, or carry your NY U-Lock in your back pocket; and most importantly, it doesn’t have to be a super-colourful and insanely expensive “fixie.” Really, any old jalopy will do. In fact, after the drinking you’re planning on doing, it’ll be best if it’s a sloppy enough jalopy that you can leave it there overnight and trick drunk people into thinking it’s already been stomped on. Poor jalopy. We would never leave you forever, Poppy the Sloppy Jalopy. (Doesn’t it just roll?)

7. Speaking of drinking, you’re going to need two things: 1) an excuse for work each morning; and 2) a brilliant hangover cure. Lucky for you we’ve actually found the perfect hangover remedy. Are you ready? Here it is: 

Psych. There’s no perfect hangover remedy. Everyone knows that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Gatorade, Advil before bed, hair of the dog, greasy food, blah, blah, blah. If a hangover cure works, it’s because you weren’t hungover enough. Quit drinking so much, you weeknight warriors, or deal with the fallout like real YPs.

8. If the business, history, theory, or analytics of music are more your thing, then try this guy’s channel out. Just kidding, the conference portion of CMW offers an A-list of participants, including City and Colour’s Dallas Green, Canadian dance music legend deadmau5, iconic musician, composer, arranger, guitarist, and disco pioneer Nile Rodgers, folk star Bruce Cockburn, and all around queen of the awesomely unpredictable, Amanda F%*king Palmer. Geez, even her name is crazy. In addition to these more well-known guests, there are over 400 hosts and speakers lined up, comprising many of the more influential players from each and every facet of the music, film, and comedy industries.

9. There are bands at this festival worth seeing based on their name alone. Ahem, Cowpuncher. With honourable mentions, Real Shark – Fake Zombie!, The Organ Thieves (which by their cover art and sound surely refers to the human and vital variety), The Mustard Junkies, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. (Side note: Are you still a vegetarian if you only punch the cow? And if you punch it in a forest, does anyone hear it mooooooooooooooo?) (Second side note: If you’re in a forest punching a cow you’ve definitely been reading the wrong survival guide.)

10. Despite our recommendation, CMW is not a selfie-free event. Brace yourself, casual Instagram followers, it’s gonna be one of those weeks.

11. Don’t do drugs. Ok, do what you want at CMW; but more generally, don’t do drugs.

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)


Cover image: BOY at Dakota Tavenrn (image from Dakota Tavern facebook)

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