Christmastime in the Emerald City

{October 16, 2007}   Toronto Independent Music Awards

So a friend of mine runs a “Zine” for all you hip indie folks. And since I was raised in the music business and rather well-versed in my snarkiness, she asks me to write a small blurb for her about the Toronto Independent Music Awards. Just a general run down of the night in general. Sure, I say, no problem. Free night on the town on a mission to make fun of the mass populace. No problem.

Holy fuck.

My first warning should have been the venue. For those who don’t know, the Phoenix is the live-music equivalent to the Zanzibar, ie: shittiest venue ever. It’s not particularly small or cramped or even poorly decorated. It just has that certain feel of….crap. The wildly popular clubs (still retarded in my too-cool-for-school opinion) are along Richmond St., which might be why it’s known as ‘The Club District’. The Phoenix is located somewhere between the Gayborhood and Your-About-To-Get-Your-Ass-Kicked-Ville. So yeah. Toilet bowl.

But whatever. It’s a night not sitting at home. Out I go, headlong into a night of barely-worth-the-laughs.

I will warn you that the story about getting to the venue is more exciting than the show itself. So, this post will likely be long and anticlimatic. Small blurb my ass.

I get on the bus, wearing jeans and my “THESE GO TO 11″ tank. A pulled together look with just the right touch of ‘fuck off, I realize I’m in a shit venue, thanks” attitude. Well done.

My bus stops for some reason as it passes our provincial legislative building – this is where people gather and bitch. There’s a lot of red and white floating around. Right, the election. Fucking Liberals. The bus is stopped because people are crossing the intersection with all these balloons, and they apparently have priority over, say, traffic.

Ten fucking minutes. Seriously. I don’t care much about this event, but I said I’d be there. Other people have left the bus, deciding to walk wherever. I am not about to walk 25 blocks to the fucking Phoenix. So, knowing it will serve no purpose other than venting, I lean out the bus and yell “You sonsofbitches just lost the vote you never had from me in the first place! Thanks for blocking all the traffic, assholes!”

Back into the bus with a grumble; the driver asks where I’m headed. “I’m supposed to be covering some awards show,” I explain, making myself sound FAR more important than I am. He says I really ought to take a taxi. “Listen, pal,” I tell him. “It’s at the Phoenix. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but I’m not about to shell out $15 to get to that fucking toilet bowl.”

The bus driver, get this (and this is why anyone who says Torontonians are rude can kiss my motherfucking ass), pulls a twenty out of his pocket and says “Here, you’ve got somewhere to be, you need to get there. Take a cab, no worries.”

Holy fucking shit. Sometimes, my faith in humanity is restored. I hop off the bus to cross the intersection for a cab, stopping to have a chat with insolent coppage on the way. “So,” I casually ask the nearest uniform, “do they really think this is a good way to get votes?”

He rolls his eyes. “Yeah, everybody thinks it’s the Liberals. They did this earlier today too, and everyone was pissed. It’s some fundraising thing for leukemia.”

Great. I just called a bunch of bald kids sonofabitch assholes while they pranced about with balloons on what was probably going to be the funnest night of their deathly ill year. Well done, greenie. Still, pissing people off is not a good way to get support, and I’m not going to be throwing my nickels into any leukemia jars this year. If anybody learns anything through this blog, it should be that preventing Torontonians from moving is cause for certain death, and probably from something more violent than leukemia.

At this point traffic begins to move. Slapping my idiot forhead, I jump back into the bus. The driver won’t take the twenty back. I give him a puzzled look – despite my somewhat suggestive shirt, I’m not exactly dressed to put out at random. But it seems there are just some general well-wishers in this fair city of mine. Awesomeness.

So the bus trundles it’s way over to my intended stop, after which I begin my descent to the Toilet Bowl. Along the way I happen to pass a building that actually makes me stumble over laughing, completely non-shit-giving about the plethora of indie kids (obviously headed to the same event) giving me the weirdo-stare.

It’s called “The Fudger House”. And not only is it called “The Fudger House,” but it’s a home for the fucking debilitated and likely incontinent elderly. Holy shit. Are you fucking joking?!?! I don’t care if the Fudger Family donated 3 billion dollars towards keeping old non-societal-contributing bags of bones alive for far too long. Lose the family pride, man! My God! “The Trillium House”, “The Named-After-Some-Random-Beloved-Aunt-Of-The-Fudger-Family House”, “The Smells-Slightly-Of-Antiseptic-And-Fear House”, anything! But no, it’s the Fudger House. And I laugh all the way to the fucking Toilet Bowl.

I’m not even in the doors, and this night is already a trip and a half.

I meet up with my cohort, grab my ticket that never gets checked, walk in the doors, and give the Toilet Bowl my initial and final perusal.

Lone Axl Rose lookalike: check

Gaggle of dad-rockers with long hair and fanny packs muttering amongst themselves about how the Phoenix USED to be: check

Token mullet-wife on arm of every other dad-rocker: check

Trendy black guy with $50 scarf: check

Far too many drunk chicks, over-dressed for the venue, but under-dressed for fucking ANYWHERE, squealing under the impression that they are in an actual club: check check fucking check.

Indie kids there for the indie scene and FAILING because this entire event does nothing but promote the corporate sponsorship allowing this event to happen: checkity motherfucking check

Barbie-esque chick in white floor length gown and tiara, blubbering mascara down her cheeks: new, but check

Semi-famous person used to M.C. an otherwise pitiful event: check

Yes, Sabrina Jalees was there. If you don’t know her, you evidently don’t watch the Comedy Network, or Trial by Video, the only thing left worth watching on any music station. She’s hilarious. In this case, she was wasted. Not wasted as in drunk, wasted as in they could have gotten any poor schmuck in a vest to stand up there and announce nominees that nobody had ever heard of without so much as a clip of music or video to promote said indie acts (or at least give us an idea of who we might like to win, or what the winners sound like.)

Because, you know, I thought promotion of indie acts was the point of these affairs. Not “and we’d like to thank blurrrrr for their generous contribution to this event and blurrrrr for blurrrrrrrrrr” and fiiiiiiiiive minutes later, some random band names are called out with zero information and handed some plaque garnishing them with a few bucks in studio time.

At this point, a third of the venue exits, because as is quickly becoming apparent, nobody gives a shit about this event. The fact is that any band who gets nominated for anything by self-promoting contributors is simply going to drag all their unimpressed friends along with them, and the entire posse will exit as soon as they either win or lose.

I would gather that only the scenesters and the drunk girls stuck around for very long. The drunk girls because it’s just too much effort to pay another cover when you can just keep sucking back the overpriced drinks, gushing to yourselves about OMFG, we totally dated the same guy for like two minutes. The scenesters would have stuck around for the scene points (despite the conglomerate slime over everything) and because for some reason they never seem to mind the fact that a) nobody sounds unlike anything that has been put out in the past three years, and b) that the sound and lighting sucks, because it’s the fucking Phoenix and they’ve never been able to get it right.

I’ll apologize here if I sound bitter, but I’ve spent many a night behind mixing consoles and I do have somewhat of a clue. I’ve heard better indie at local band-battles at the Operahouse, though to be fair I was seeing the drummer of one of the bands, (ironically called River Phoenix – to hell with privacy) and the sound guy at the time. Even Surface Rising sounded better than anything at this half ass of an awards show. If you don’t know who they are, good. It means you’ve never been accosted by their bassist outside the Velvet Underground, waving a demo tape and dirty earbuds. Even my audio-tech comrade couldn’t make them sound unobnoxious when they opened for Apocalyptica (who were awesome, and marked the last occasion I was impressed by a live band. Ever.)

Admittedly, I have been impressed at the Phoenix. (Note: at the Phoenix, not by the Phoenix – a Toilet Bowl it always was and forever shall be). Also, this was many moons ago. Once was by Angelique Kidjo, a clicking, wailing, West African goddess who would sound impressive singing in a bowling alley bathroom. The second was Classic Albums Live, for the mere fact that they could mimic the White Album down to the cacophonic NUMBER NINE NUMBER NINE NUMBER NINE, regardless of how many different people and odd things they had to get onstage. And again, they probably could have done that in a bowling alley bathroom. It actually may have sounded even better.

Other than that, the Phoenix is an audio-visual failure, and the Toronto Independent Music Awards was no exception. It was poorly organized, the programme was nothing but one big advertisement with more details about the coordinators than the bands, nothing about anything made me care about any of the acts, and as usual I was surrounded by poorly dressed morons.

On top of that, in an effort to not look completely out of place, I purchased an amaretto-and-cran for myself, and a coke for my partner in disbelief-at-all-this-crappery. Eight fucking dollars. Thank God for that bus driver. If it hadn’t been for him, I’d have left the Toilet Bowl not just outraged at the state of the music industry (the INDIE music industry at that), but outright pissed off for having spent eight dollars.

However, the way I see it, I spent other people’s money for a free drink and a reminder of why I’d rather dig my eyes out with a spoon than continue my lineage of music industry bullshit.

That, my friends, is called breaking even.


Maytina says:

I was oh so disappointed to find that the TIMA show was not only poorly organized and executed, but that it didn’t deserve the I in TIMA. It rattles me greatly when sponsorship is brought into these sorts of things, because at the very least we’ve always had the independent nature to be proud of. Sounds like TIMA is going the same way as NXNE. Boourns indeed.

talea says:

My favourite part was ‘scene points’. I’m not a scener, and was unaware of said points.
I probably would have yelled at the leukemia kids too. And probably wouldn’t have felt that bad either. Don’t block traffic! This is Toronto!!! MOOOVE!!

N.A. Hole says:

Sorry to hear it was such a shitty scene. Maybe next time you’ll fucking learn your lesson and stick with the good fucking stuff – you know – Britany, that fucking douche bag Clay Aiken, etc.

greenmetropolis says:

@ May, yeah, I know, it’s a pain in the ass. I’m smelling an El Mocambo come back, far less produced. Also, Lee’s Palace. A lot of shit, occasional gems. I actually clapped for Rise to Order, though Alexisonfire really needs a slap in the face. They were original, but now EVERYBODY is doing that melodic wailing crossed with guttural vocals thing. OVVVERRRRR!!!!!!

@ Talea, I spent two years surrounded by emo-indie-bandaid retards. I can tell you all about scene points. It also has a surprising amount to do with leet speak and socks.

@ nahole, I’ve given up on any music that I didn’t find while randomly scouring the New Arrivals section at Sonic Boom. I have found some good motherfucking shit in there that nobody has ever heard of. Pete Yorn, Lovedrug, Thirteen Senses, The Miniatures. Now THAT IS INDIE!!! Or at least good music.

greenmetropolis says:

Duuuuudes, you would not beLIEVE the angry comments I got on this one! I didn’t bother to post them of course, they were all of the “they gave away this much money blah blah blah and took far more effort than your typing and blah blah blah something about taking an english class.”

Doesn’t change the fact that the event sucked….

Maytina says:

Would you like to go review a Miniatures show? They are super nice and guest list should not be a problem. 😛 Sonic Boom has been great since I was a kid.

Body Electric PR says:

The show sucked? I think their were about 15 performances (or more), 3 random hilarious rap battles, Sabrina Jalees hosted the damn thing. Marshall Dane, Amanda Martinez, KC Roberts, Runwiththekittens (which you probably didn’t even stay long enough to see), were all phenominal and it was the first time I had heard about the show as well.

I think you should grow some balls and put up other peoples comments instead of being one-sided.

greenmetropolis says:

Yeah, my problem was that for someone who has never seen any of these acts, there was zero info on them. I’m standing in the crowd and they list five random names for some award. No music clips, no nothing, no inkling of whether or not I’m supposed to be excited about who wins. And I’m supposed to care? I should have put the other comments up, you’re right. I deleted them because most of them were just indie-angry and went off on about how much money they donated, blah blah blah, and something about my spelling (like it matters in a blog).

You liked the show, great, we’re of differing opinions, that’s all. I personally found it uninspiring and more about the contributors than the artists, which I found really upsetting. I didn’t learn anything about any of them.

Example: I went to see the Dresden Dolls just because someone had a ticket. I’d never heard of them. BOOM! Now I’m a huge fan of them AND their opening act. I NEVER buy merchandise, but it was an awesome show and worth my time. I bought as much merch as I could to support them.

The TIMA failed to scratch my jaded surface. And as I’ve said, I have a hate-on for the Phoenix in general, and was more there to make fun of the drunk girls and dad-rockers.

Also, I think just about anybody can comment on my balsiness….

greenmetropolis says:

Oh, and May, I’d love to review a miniatures show. Another random band I picked up and loved.

Body Electric PR says:

You are absolutely entitled to your opinion.

And I also understand why you are “jaded and snarky” .. Let’s face it.. Where was the Toronto music industry 3 years ago (approx the time when the show started)??? Where is it still???

I didn’t really want to name names, but I think it is necessary to illustrate my point:

Supernova battle of the bands, Hotboxxx, Garage Band competition, Gen Sub /indie week, hmmm.. Sure get a band to sell 100 pre-sale tickets to get 4 hours of recording time, or a NON-EXISTANT record deal…

and THEN you get why bands don’t want to “pay-to-play” for anything, anywhere, anytime.

I wouldn’t shit all over NXNE, at least seminars are there to EDUCATE musicians and provide them with TOOLS they need to at least be some-what prepared. Same with CMW, although I think the delegate passes are extremely expensive, especially for any musician or young person.

However, if you take a step back and evaluate things, I think there is nothing wrong with a young person who, as I understand, was upset with all of the industry crap and got off her ass and did something about it (maybe without even knowing how?). — That’s balls.

The passion is evident in even a brief conversation with the founder, any thorough evaluation of the website, or a glance at some of the prizes. What Folk band wouldn’t want complimentary passes to the OCFF conference? What band wouldn’t want to pick the brain of Eric Alper from Koch Entertainment? Or see the world-class Phase One Studios? On top of that, who the hell spent the time to seek out all of these companies and get all of this stuff? and not even for themselves?

I think under all of your snarkiness is some constructive criticism coming from a person who saw and sees the same problems with the industry, but the manner in which you write or portray that criticism is insensitive and shows an ignorance to the bigger scope of things. It just reminds me of the Stillepost-indie-bandwagon jumping (or burning) – shit, that does nothing but compound more shit on shit.

Maybe we all need to stop trying to be so trendy.

romi41 says:

I don’t know shit about indie music, but I laughed my ass off; snarky is beautiful 🙂

Life can be very serious at times, it’s good to fucking chill out, hence why I don’t give an eff who you offended; I laughed, I got my cut, good day…good day 🙂

greenmetropolis says:

Yeah. I’m all for supporting artists, and lets just face it, I’m just a snarkster. Actually, most of my snark was directed more at the populace there more than the event. (See: token Axl look-alike: check) To completely clarify: I didn’t hear anything inspiring, and there was no introduction to the nominees. What on earth would make me go out and support them if I didn’t even get to hear a clip of their music, or even their NAME clearly enough before everything was rushed right on? I was expecting a great event, and I was disappointed, acknowledgements to all the hardwork put in set aside. Plus, I hate the motherfucking Phoenix.

Yeah, so, you put in all this money and it’s a great cause, and etc. etc. etc. But the show still sucked, and I’m not inspired enough to care about any of the artists. Sorry. They may have changed the lives of tons of little indie artists, but I remain bitter and with a general taste of ‘not so much’ in my mouth.

greenmetropolis says:

On a positive Indie note: Rise to Order at Lee’s palace were pretty fun. Die Driving a few years ago at the ElMo were fun, and I’d like to say my ex’s band “River Phoenix” were good, but they weren’t, really. However, the bass player has gone on to form some other bands I can’t quite recall and have even got some radio play. Good for him, completely solo!

Josh says:

Despite my general distaste for the Indie scene in general, I loved your account of the evening. I wish I could get this post drunk and seduce it into a one night stand that ends akwardly but still leaves both parties gratified. In fact this could just about be any awards show at any shitty club. It would have been the exact same lame ass people/bull shit. And take pride in how many people you pissed off. They were probably the bald deuche bags that blocked traffic with their charitable buggery. And forget about the grammar. Grammar is for class work and science articles. This is teh facking interweb noobs. Mother fuckers don’t have to grammarize shit if they don’t feel like it! Ask any LOLcat.

Your blog has a perfect title, cause after reading it for the first time, it sort of feels like christmas time. Rock on Green Metropolis. I like chicks with balls. (not actual balls mind you, the metaphorical sort of balls that don’t clutter up the paradice city that is the ball-less vagina)

greenmetropolis says:

Josh, my friend, you rock hardcore. I do take pride in how many people I piss off, that’s what happens when you live downtown and take the motherfucking subway several times a day. You stop giving a shit about people outside your own dear circle of loved ones.

And fuck grammar in the blogosphere. I’m the prodigal child who gave higher education the finger, and can still carry on a better conversation than a good chunk of the graduated populace. And I marvel, really, at the reactions to my one tiny insignificant opinion.

Thank you for your acknowledgement of my ballsiness. I take pride in it. But yes, am all girl where it counts. I take pride in that too. Also for the LOLcat reference. They make my motherfucking day.

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