Mark My Words – Hanging out at Indie Week Toronto

I am sitting here writing this in Toronto after my first night hanging out at the Rok Boutique as a judge for the 5th edition of Indie Week. Indie Week is an incredible opportunity for bands looking for exposure and even though it is theoretically a competition, if you do decide to get involved you should approach it as an opportunity to grow your craft for the live show is once again becoming the most prominent weapon in a band’s arsenal to get your name out there.

The night kicked of with Sarnia, Ontario-based band Hello Bella who belted out their blend of popish commercial rock with a hint of ’80s style with vigor. Lead singer Stephanie Poort enthusiastically worked the small crowd with style and demonstrated that the band certainly has potential to move up the musical ladder as long as they continue to hone their skills and play as much as possible.

Next up was David Hurwitz, front man for New York band The Boy Bathing. Having decided for the sake of economy to go solo for this gig, I was at first thrown for a loop with his acoustic solo approach but was certainly won over by his passion and charisma and it will be interesting to hear the whole band sometime soon.

Two of the five bands registered could not make it due to border hassles (Get your paperwork organized before you try to cross any border!) so the final judged band and winner for this night was Toronto band Brane. Heavy in a Metallica sort of way and very tight as a musical unit, Brane owned the small Rok Boutique stage and definitely engaged the crowd with their brand of modern hard rock. Despite being sick as a dog, guitarist and vocalist Josh Wannamaker pulled out all the stops and propelled the band forward with passion and barely controlled fury and it was pretty clear that these guys were ready to move things up a notch.

One of the cool things about this year’s Indie Week is the ongoing Irish showcase that is running concurrently with the judged acts and the night I was judging was capped off by the brilliant Walter Mitty & The Realists from Limerick, Ireland. Right away you knew these guys had something special as their stage presence and charisma just exploded off the stage and into the faces of the very enthusiastic crowd. Currently recording their debut CD with Fergal Lawler of The Cranberries, Walter Mitty & The Realists proved the old adage that there is nothing better than positive word of mouth and after experiencing their live show that was all you heard from the crowd after they concluded their set. Look for more about the band soon on The Rock and Roll Report.

I will try to update you on more of Indie Week throught the next few days if possible but I will definitely recap things next week on the pages of the Rock and Roll Report.