Slacker Canadian Music Week wrapped up in Toronto this weekend to overwhelmingly positive reviews. We met some great people, witnessed informative and entertaining panels, and saw some wonderfully talented musicians.

After a day of recovery and the fog starting to clear itself from our contented heads, we offer some of our highlights from CMW 2012:

Who: The Balconies (Toronto)

When & Where: Thursday, 11pm at Cabin Five

For three classically trained musicians, damn, can this band ever rock. Solid harmonies and an incredibly tight rhythm section had the small crowd at Cabin Five locked from the get go. With a fiery presence and explosive guitar riffs, lead singer Jacquie Neville was lights out.

Extra high-fives:  For the energy they brought after playing three shows earlier that day.


Who: Ben Caplan (Halifax)

When & Where: Saturday, 4:30pm at Toronto Institute for the Enjoyment of Music

My greatest CMW regret will be missing out on a Ben Caplan set with his band, The Casual Smokers. The two songs I caught at the intimate TIFEM showcase clearly justified Caplan’s buzz on the Twitter feed all weekend. With gruff voice and clever storytelling, Caplan turns the dials way up on his captivating brand of East Coast folk.

Extra high-fives: For body slamming on the piano. And the beard (buzz-worthy in its own right).


Who: The Washboard Union (Vancouver)

When & Where: Friday, 11pm at The Supermarket

If Ben Caplan takes ‘Best Beard’ we’re giving second place to The Washboard Union, whose own washboarder, Dave Roberts, boasts some scruff as impressive as the band’s rowdy roots set. Weaving effortlessly back and forth between country and bluegrass, the 7-piece group had the boots stompin’ with talented musicianship and sharp wordplay.

Extra high-fives: For the ease at which each member trades off lead vocal duties.


Honorable Mention

Who: Treble Charger (Toronto)

When & Where: Wednesday, 11pm at Phoenix

Great memories of being 14 years old and idolizing Treble Charger, made me hesitant to see the reunion set. Sometimes it’s best to leave nostalgia alone. But watching the Canadian rockers go to work was like being thrown 10 years into the past; same energy, same pop-rock songs, same spiky hair. The band didn’t miss a beat, playing hits like ‘American Psycho’ as well as some older favorites like ‘Red’.

Extra high-fives: For kicking ass after a nine-year hiatus.