CMW stands for Canadian Music Week, but what differentiates it from its rival NXNE isn't its local acts. The five-day Toronto music festival is actually a trip around the globe. An array of styles from 27 different countries is on display, with each artist offering a unique insight into musical communities sometimes overlooked. From delicate afternoon pop, to blazing psych-rock to one of the Middle East’s first female rappers, CMW stretches all over the world.
If you're scanning the schedule and thinking "who?" that's probably because you haven't looked beyond the country's borders. Here are seven global picks.
Melbourne, Australia’s cultural hub, is the primary source of acts visiting from down under; 14 of the 31 acts call Melbs or its surrounding area home. Finding any other common thread between all these acts isn’t nearly as easy: there’s the classic pub rock of You Am I, the gentle acoustic folk of Ma Petite or Audego’s late-night electro-pop. But if you’re going to raise a tinny of Carlton’s to just one act, let it be seven-piece psych monster King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. They’ve got the work ethic of Thee Oh Sees (as evidenced by the three shows they're playing at CMW) and an equally engrossing live set.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are at The Hideout on Friday, May 9 at 10 before starting Saturday, May 10 at the Aussie BBQ at 4:40 in the afternoon at the Horseshoe and then a late set at Wrongbar at 11.
Paradise, half of 143Band, calls herself the first female rapper from Afghanistan, and she doesn’t shy away from calling out her country’s array of social injustices over pop-tinged beats.
143Band is at parts & Labour on Friday, May 9 at 2 AM.
Overseas have the look of yet another gritty pop-punk act (if we don't want to use the "e" word) and they’ve got the angular riffs and gang vocals to back it up. Guess plaids and black Vans are truly universal.
Overseas land in Canada for a show at The Hideout on Friday, May 9 at 8.
Four acts from Ireland have made it to CMW (they're always a major presence at the festival): there’s the tender acoustic blues of Somerville, the straight up rock of Audio Fires but if you’re in the mood for some lush, rolling sonic landscapes (you are thinking Ireland after all) Come On Live Long might be your best bet. Sure enough to unite an entire pub.
Come On Live Long set up shop at the Dakota Tavern on Saturday, May 10 at 8.
Tel Aviv, Israel, one of the world’s great music cities, has five acts at CMW. Bill and Murray's loopy and potent synth hooks (and the band’s name, come on!) they may be one of the hidden gems of the fest.
Catch Bill and Murray at Baltic Avenue on Friday, May 9 at 8 and Saturday, May 10 at Czehoski at 12 AM.
L.A. play The Hideout on Thursday, May 8 at 3 AM.
Taiwan's eclecticism will be on display for an official showcase at El Mocambo on May 8. Most notable is avant-garde electronic three-piece Red: it’s easy to get lost in their layered work, led by DJ Code.