On night one of Festival Music House, Toronto’s indie musicians come out to support their friends
Every year TIFF seems to get bigger and better. Case in point: for the second year running, in addition to an overwhelming number of films screening across the city, the festival is offering a heavy-hitting Canadian lineup at its Festival Music House. Located inside Mod Club on College Street, Festival Music House is just removed from the downtown star-spotting radius but aims to provide industry and media types with an alternative TIFF experience—one that’s more relaxed than say, the screaming crowd outside of Grey Goose Soho House every night. We attended the first of three nights at the venue, so check out who besides K’naan made a splash last night after the jump.
Last night’s performance lineup included Hooded Fang, Dinosaur Bones, Hannah Georgas, Midway State and headliner K’naan, and crowds were sparse until halfway through Georgas’s set. People continued to pile in through Midway State with the venue finally feeling packed for K’naan. That isn’t to say the other bands didn’t perform impressively—it’s hard to play to chatty industry folk at an open bar event, but Dinosaur Bones and Hannah Georgas did exceedingly well. Midway State banged out pop rock to flashy lights, but the pull of the night for many people was K’naan, and the fans were in luck, because the Somali-Canadian rapper debuted new songs last night. K’naan chatted onstage about Festival Music House being a media and industry event, lamenting, “This is not my favourite thing to do,” before he proceeded to wow the enraptured crowd (some ladies in the front row seemed to get a lot of attention). We may not be K’naan fanatics, but we’ve got to hand it to him for engaging and performing to a room of 400 or so people the way he would at a massive concert.
The crowd consisted mostly of what seemed like friends of the bands that performed and industry and media that were interested in Canadian music, but a few recognizable faces were spotted in the crowd: Meeno Versteeg, lead singer of Hollerado; Buck 65 (out to support a fellow rapper no doubt); TIFF Rising Star Katie Boland; and, surprisingly, Don McKeller. We took off just as K’naan started to perform what we thought was “Wavin’ Flag,” in an attempt to keep the World Cup theme song out of our head.