Making all-important festival choices easier: A look ahead at Indie Week 2010 (October 13 – 17)

It’s ba-ack, it’s bigger and better than ever and I am so excited for it that it’s almost sick. What is this magical “it”? No guesses? Okay, I’ll give it to you – Indie Week 2010! The annual musical festival, which showcases the best in indie music from around the world, will be taking over Toronto from October 13 to the 17. This year, Indie Week will be reigning its musical powers over 15 of the city’s most beloved venues (think Bovine Sex Club, Hideout etc.) and showcasing the talents of 150 (yes!) bands. But with so many shows to choose from, there does come a downside – how in the world can you take it all in? I hate to be so brash, but you can’t, so I’ve decided to make the task of picking a little less daunting by offering up some of the shows and bands I personally think are must-sees. I really hope I don’t disappoint you with my musical judgment. If I do, I’m sorry. (But I probably won’t.)

October 14 – Blank-Fest Toronto @ El Mocambo (7:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.)

Blank-Fest is a unique initiative that combines charity with amazing live music, so you get to rock out all night while you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. The concept is a simple one; put on a great show and instead of admission, collect blankets and clothing donations that will go to help keep the homeless warm in the harshest winter months. Kenn Rowell launched Blank-Fest in New York City several years ago, Jon Asher brought it to Montreal and now they’re both debuting it in Toronto on October 14. The night’s line-up features Modified, Playdeaf, Falling Anvils, All Else Fails, Crooked Valentine and, drumroll please, NYC’s Bagdaddios – Blank-Fest founder Kenn’s not-to-be-missed punk band! (They make a Mother’s Day song sound badass, so you know they’re worth your precious Indie Week time!)

October 14 – Ascot Royals @ Bread + Circus (9:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.)

Just down the street from Blank-Fest, the Bread + Circus will host Hamilton’s Ascot Royals at 9:00 p.m. I am so torn here! If only I could invent a time machine within the next couple days that would allow me to experience both Blank-Fest and Ascot Royals at 9:00 p.m.! You see, AR are one of the few up-and-coming Canadian bands that I am truly excited about. Their self-titled debut is an eclectic mix of genres that somehow only they can make work and the band’s live show is always a good time. Go for the ridiculous guitar playing and stay for the entire set as you’ll soon realize this band is dynamite.

October 15 – Vinyl Hero @ Bread + Circus (8:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.)

For all the lovers of good ol’ rock and roll out there, Montreal’s Vinyl Hero is just the band for you. But only if you aren’t in the least bit afraid of having your rock and roll served up with a twist. Welding together a vintage rock sound, blues, funk, classical music and jazz (frankly, it’s probably easier to list what they don’t draw inspiration from) Vinyl Hero delivers a sound all their own. And no, that’s not just some cliche I’m throwing around. Their latest EP is a memorable release that’s already got their hometown buzzing.

October 13/14/15 – Roymackonkey @ A whole lot of venues

First off, you might be wandering about all the dates. Well, if you were making the never-ending (painful) flight over to Toronto from Australia, you’d be squeezing in as many gigs as possible into your weekend too. Roymackonkey are alt-rockers with quite a fab EP out, “Cassandra Never Lies,” which showcases a wide range of rock stylings between songs, as well as within each track. In fact, you may find yourself checking them out more than once, just to discover all their musical nuances. Formed in 1997, Roymackonkey is anything but new to the music industry and they’ve played with the likes of Wolfmother, Shihad and Screaming Jets. In Toronto, they’ll play October 13 @ Hideout, October 14 @ Bovine Sex Club (1:30 a.m.) and October 15 at the Australian Showcase (can’t wait for this!) @ Underground Garage (10:30 p.m.)

Indie Week 2010 will also include CD launch parties, Australian, Irish and Japanese Showcases, industry panels (on which yours truly will be speaking on Saturday @ The Drake Hotel (2:00 p.m.)) and oh, so much more! If you’re in Toronto from October 13 – 17, or are in the mood for a stellar road trip, come out to Indie Week and experience what a music festival should really be!