Exclaim! Media celebrated its 20th anniversary and the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences raised money for its MusiCounts charity when they joined together for a night of music at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern on Feb. 4 as part of the Juno Concert Series.
The first part of the evening was dedicated to Canadian pop songs, with young combo The Elwins acting as house band. I walked in to hear Broken Social Scene's Brendan Canning crooning Remy Shand's "Take A Message." I wasn't a fan, but it may have been people's only chance to hear the song live, since Shand seems to have disappeared following the platinum sales and Juno-winning success of his one and only album, The Way I Feel, in 2002.
The Elwins did an original, fun, bouncy and slightly ska-influenced pop tune called "Stuck in the Middle" that I quite enjoyed. I wasn't familiar with the band before, but would be interested in seeing a set of its original material.
Tokyo Police Club's David Monks performed a song I didn't know and then Canning returned with quirky pop artist Allie Hughes for The Poppy Family's "Where Evil Grows." It had a nice fuzz tone, but the vocals lacked the edge that Terry and Susan Jacks brought to the original in 1971.
Former Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, King Cobb Steelie and Phono-Comb member Don Pyle next offered a slide show of photos from his 2011 book, Trouble in the Camera Club: A Photographic Narrative of Toronto's Punk History 1976-1980. He described some of the shots he took as a teenager of Blondie, The Ramones, David Bowie, The Clash and such local favourites as Teenage Head, The Diodes, The Mods and The Ugly that brought back memories to a certain segment of the audience that packed the venue.
The Sadies were the backing band (and it seemed strange to see Sean Dean not playing an upright bass) for the following set of Toronto punk tunes, with Pyle sticking around to sing a couple of them. Mickey Skin took folks back 34 years to when her band The Curse, North America's first all-woman punk band, issued the single "Shoeshine Boy" about murdered 12-year-old Emmanuel Jaques. She followed that up with "Somethin' Ya Can't Tell Your Mother."
Other highlights included a rendition of The Viletones' "Possibilities" and Fucked Up frontman Damian Abraham (who's abandoned his straight edge ways and was drinking beer) taking off his Toronto Maple Leafs jersey to bark through Teenage Head's "Picture My Face."
Hip-hop karaoke was next up, which thinned the crowd considerably (and eventually prompted my exit). But I was entertained by Mandy's energetic rip through Maestro Fresh Wes' "Let Your Backbone Slide," and it was good to see pioneering female MC Michie Mee again.
The evening didn't live up to my expectations and wasn't as good as last year's decade-themed shows in the Juno Concert Series, but spending time with friends at the gig compensated for the lack of on-stage thrills.