Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” I spent last week listening to several women-led bands that played Canadian Music Week (CMW) in Toronto, and I can say with certainty that Plato knew what he was talking about. Here are a few of the acts I saw at the festival — and the bands you should start to listen to asap!
The first band was playing at the Garrison on Dundas St. West. No Sinner, from Vancouver, filled the venue with deep growling rock n’ roll with singer, Colleen Rennison roaring into the mic. No Sinner was one of my favourites at Canadian Music Week because they brought a refreshing and classic sound amidst the keyboard loving shoegaze that has overtaken popular music. Instead, No Sinner brought bluesy rock to Toronto, showing that western Canadian bands can compete with the overwhelming presence of Toronto bands at CMW.
Rennison is a force to be reckoned with on and off the stage and doesn’t think that gender should be a factor within the music industry. “You just have to rise to the occasion regardless of what’s between your legs,” said Rennsion. “The other day, I arrived at the venue before the band and I was trying to get some information from the promotor and he assumed I was someone’s girlfriend in the band. After they saw sound-check, they change their tune.”
No Sinner is due to release their upcoming album, “Old Habits Die Hard” on May 20 and they played their new song, “Hollow” at the CMW show. It is a passionate track about heartbreak and you can really feel Rennison’s pain in her thriving vocals. “So much of what the album is about is the human condition, being an enemy to yourself and the consequences of that,” said Rennison. The whole show had a very visceral feel to it, as if you could experience her pain in yourself. No Sinner is well worth seeing live.
From the Garrison, I jetted to the Mod Club on College St. to see The Wet Secrets perform their set for a packed audience. The band, hailing from Edmonton, is an alt-rock band that uses horns, percussion, coordinated dance moves, and marching band uniforms. The act features two women members, Emma Frazier on the trombone, and Kim Rackel on the trumpet. The band won the Peak Performance Project Award in 2014 where they were given a $100,000 award.
I caught up with Frazier at CMW after their show at the Mod Club. “The show was great. It was an amazing crowd and good energy.” She also explained that in addition to being in a band together, Rackel and Frazier also perform in a burlesque troupe in Edmonton. The two musicians use a set of coordinated dance moves in their marching band outfits and the performance often has sexual undertones. “Getting on stage is fucking rad. I don’t think it should really be a problem. If I’m sexualized, that’s their problem and not mine. I just like performing,” said Frazier.
Other women-led bands that performed CMW included Nao, from the U.K, who performed at the Mod Club as well. Nao is an electronic D.J who has developed a large following because of her well-developed snyth-pop sound. The show was packed and Nao delivered. Adee from Sweden also played at the Nightowl, which was a smaller venue. She brought an R&B sound mixed with hip hop riffs and got an audience member to join her on stage to sing. She was lively and positive about the small crowd attending her gig.
CMW was a wild ride and watching several female bands perform was enlightening. There are so many talented women performers out there and seeing the variety of styles in their music had my body grooving. Take a listen to these ladies and remember, support women in music! I will definitely be attending CMW next year to see the next wave of women to light up the stage in Toronto.