Who's Coming to Dance on stage with M.I.A. ?

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The last time M.I.A. played Toronto I danced on stage with her among many other fans. She invited her fans to dance on stage with her...who could pass that up? The time before that, I saw her perform as part of Austin City Limits, and yes, I danced on stage. Now the time before that if I remember correctly, she played Toronto's Virgin Festival on the island. No, I didn't dance on stage (it was my first M.I.A. concert), but a lot of other people sure did. 
So the question is begging to be asked, is she gonna invite her fans on stage when she plays Toronto's Sound Academy next Wednesday, the 22nd of September?

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Tickets are still available at the usual outlets, so get on it, before this sells out!
I mean really, how cool is it to say you've danced on stage with M.I.A. ? 

And if you're not the dancing type, simply go for the music....'Galang', 'Bamboo Banga', '20 Dollar' (a J&J favourite), some song called, 'Paper Planes' and her latest, 'XXXO' and the one with the ginger kids in the video, 'Born Free'. 
Oh, and I hear Rye Rye is opening for her. If you like M.I.A. you're gonna LOVE Rye Rye. 

See ya there? On stage perhaps?

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Words & Photos: Jess Watt

 

 

A KISS to Remember

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Dubbed as the Hottest Show on Earth, KISS and their army of fans invaded the shores of Lake Ontario this past weekend. Having recruited followers of all ages in a variety of get-ups with the constant theme being black, particularly black leather, it was both a show on and off stage to be witnessed at least once in a lifetime.


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KISS have been in the 'game' for 37 years and counting, so they know how to bring it. Having performed for tens of thousands of people at once this past show must have seemed like a flash in the pan for them-just 15'000 people, that's all. But as expected, they brought it, playing up to every audience member's and photographers dreams (see below). Blood-spitting, pyrotechnics, make-up, the classic songs, Gene's tongue, the platform boots, the works. KISS is known more so for their live show, and not their music. Yeah, everyone knows "Rock and Roll All Nite", some even live by its lyrics, but its their live show that's really famous. So when the band performed newer songs it wasn't a lull in the show; they rocked it so hard in their performances that it didn't matter if you didn't know the music. 


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This is truly a band of the marketing age: pewter figurines, his & hers fragrances, M&M's, Big Gulp cups, make up kits, jigsaw puzzles, oh and a pinball machine. KISS is not just a band, they're a empire. And not suggesting that the KISS empire needs cash, but with a live show of theatrical proportions they could easily take up residency in Las Vegas. Till then KISS continue to tour North America hitting even the tiniest of cities, recruiting new fans to the KISS Kommunity along the way. And for the ultimate KISS recruit, you can even meet the band for a mere $975, ticket to the show included.


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Its funny to think that a band that started their first ever tour in the middle of winter, in Edmonton of all places (what were they thinking!), back in 1974 could ever come this far. Living legends, living large.


Photos by JESS WATT


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MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS ARE A BOYS BEST FRIEND

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If you like Feist, Annie Lennox, Florence and The Machine or LaRoux... you might like Ms. Marina Lambrini Diamandis, better known as Marina and the Diamonds! Born in Wales but hailing from London, Marina has made her mark across the pond and is also signed on a 

US label - a juxtaposition which could only result in a song like 'Hollywood' which she played at the Opera House in Toronto earlier this week.  


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Marina is a true original in her music and especially in her style. Sporting black lipstick, a football jersey T and heart tights, I see why she describes her personal style as: vintage/cheerleader/cartoon.  Her music ranges from slow full-bodied piano ballads, to up-tempo new wave-new wave keyboard hybrids. She plays a variety of key instruments: piano, glockenspiel, casio VL-tone and the organ. The tone and texture of her throaty voice has an incredible, beautiful range, but the songs are mostly fun and frolicky. Her lyrics are clever and insightful, her songs are definitely worth a listen. Her fans the diamonds sure think so, superfans were screaming for her throughout the show, in the most obscene ways. A huge turnout at the Opera House and definitely a large component from the brotherhood community.    


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Songs of the night were definitely hits: 'Hollywood', 'I am not a robot' and the extended version of 'Obsession'. After attempting what might be (next to Steven Tyler falling off the stage), the worst rockstar jump we've ever seen, she gave us our encore. Demanding of the crowd "I want to hear a big, fat cuckoo" really sums up her kooky style and intro to 'Mowgli's Road'. Check out the video for that one, it's nice to see a pretty girl be creative and quirky instead of glam trampy. Marina and the Diamonds are still pretty under the radar in Canada and despite the bad music put on heavy rotation in radio, she is one "indie" songstress worthy of more exposure.


Taken in by Jenn Good with photos by Jess Watt   


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Does It Offend You, Yeah? & Kele = Party!

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Named after Ricky Gervais's character on the wildly popular, The Office, Does It Offend You, Yeah? and Bloc Party's vocalist, Kele Okereke shared the bill to an under-attended show downtown Toronto last week. Having soldout larger venues and being topped as headliners at festivals, one had to wonder just where the Bloc Party fans were that night. For those in the know, or those true Bloc Party fans it was a night to revel in as yes, he did play some Bloc Party songs!

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Does It Offend You, Yeah? started the show promptly at 8pm to under one hundred people. Does it offend them? No. After the first electro thrashing instrumental song the band explained that their singer had gotten the flu and wouldn't be joining them onstage. Does it offend the crowd, no! 

The four-piece give it their all. What saved them from utter demise, as really, a band could easily go down in given these circumstances is their music. The live guitar and bass mixed with a live drummer, thrown in a laptop full of crunchy beats...Hell, who needs the singer anyway! Its the beats, its the energy that feed a groove, not the vocals, at least not in this case. Made me wanna lock myself in my bedroom and turn up the stereo real loud and dance without caring. You know, like we did back then, when our parents pissed us off and we were sent to our rooms and the only way to rebel was to turn it up loud, real loud. Remember?


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Kele came out looking like a dancing basketball player adorned in a Pistons shirt.

Admitting he has a potty mouth; it was the crowd that should really talk. With remarks and shoutouts like, "I'll have your baby!" or  "Take off your clothes" its no wonder he's happy to play to the small clubs...and screaming girls??? Who knew Kele was a sex object? But really who could blame ya, when he shakes his ass like that on stage. Makes a certain girl wanna come back from 'the dark side' and go even darker.


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Having listened to the disc before seeing Mr. Bloc Party live, I recommend doing the complete opposite. His energy, his music don't come across on disc/mp3. See him live while you can, cause before long he'll be back with his Bloc Party buds holed up in studio and bets are he won't be shaking his ass when the boys are around. That, and oh, his set are really really short! 


Throughly enjoyed with photos by Jess Watt.


Btw, he played Bloc Party's "The Prayer"


 

 

A Summer of Legends...

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Musical legends that is. And yes, it has been a power-packed summer of concerts put on by  legends in all genres. George Clinton & The P-Funk Allstars, Aerosmith and Sting to name a few. We're dealing with some heavy-hitters indeed. Before we start another season with fresh concert reviews and insights on possible soon-to-be legends, let's recap our legendary summer that was.

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Starting back in June at Toronto's annual NXNE music festival we were graced with both a legend and a LEGENDARY concert, held in the overflowing confines of Yonge & Dundas Square. The lustful Iggy Pop had the all ages, all backgrounds, crowd in a free for all frenzy. Intense.

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Weeks later the soul sounds of a Miss Bettye Lavette graced an under-attended concert hall as part of the Toronto Jazz Festival. Feeling the jazz vibe in our bones we traveled East to Montreal to take in their ever-popular International Jazz Festival. It was here, we waited and waited and waited for George Clinton to take the stage. And when he did, he was showed up by his own band, The P-Funk Allstars. Yes, he is legend and all, but loose the attitude dude.

Let the arguing begin now... Courtney Love. Yes, I'm gonna say it, "she is a legend." Not on the same legend levels of some of the others on this list, but she's still a legend in my mind. And for me this was the most anticipated concert of the summer. Have you heard heard her new disc? LOVE IT! Miss World did not disappoint. 

Sting thought he was performing legendary concerts this summer with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but really it was just painful reworkings of Police songs that made him famous. A disappointment on a grand scale.

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The showman of showmanship, a true legend, Mr. Beatle, SIR Paul McCartney played two soldout shows in Toronto. Playing the best of The Beatles and Wings for over 3 hours each night, the Walrus did not disappoint the thousands he sang to, except for maybe a one, one who still would rather be a Rolling Stone.....!

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The month of August seemed to bring out the legendary rock acts of generations: Aerosmith and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Both playing their greatest hits to near soldout, multi-generational crowds. Though some may say Steven Tyler's fall into the crowd, early set is legendary, it didn't make the show. That was the antics of bandmate Joe Perry that made the show. I mean really, since when was it cool to whip off your belt, throw the buckle to the crowd and proceed to whip your guitar with said belt? Or better yet, 'stab" the amplifier with the neck of one of your many guitars. Is this how all guitar gods should perform?
Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers weren't nearly the spectacle of Aerosmith,  but that's not to say he didn't put on a great show, busting out the hits early on. 

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Closing out the summer of legends were Canadians, Blue Rodeo, who played their annual gig at the amphitheatre to an appreciative crowd. Though you can't really put a band like Blue Rodeo and someone like Sting in the same list, you can concur that Blue Rodeo are indeed Canadian legends.

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Other notable acts we covered that could be argued to be legends, some in their own mind, include the godfathers of grunge, Mudhoney, X, early hip hoppers, De La Soul, true-coloured, Cyndi Lauper, and Lady Gaga (c'mon, you've seen those videos! Legendary)

Agree or disagree with the list...regardless it's been a legendary summer. But now that summer's come to an end, its time to seek out new legends in music and September is promising to bring out a few. Keep your eyes here for new acts and the odd legend or two....yes, we're going to our first (!) Kiss concert.

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Compiled with photos by Jess Watt


 

 

George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight

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New name, new length, same red chair.

You've heard the rumors, you've struggled to pronounce the name, and come September 20th - you'll be able to tune into CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.

Yes, we're revamping The Hour for the 7th season.  The new show will be 30 minutes long, but its core values won't be changing.  We're tweaking the format to bring you the best content in a tighter package. The new website, which launches September 19th, will feature more web exclusives, and will connect our viewers (and George lovers) to additional news that drives thought and inspires opinion.

Click here to read more about the new show.



 

 

Tom Petty Won't Back Down

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The generation-spanning, multi-talented, Tom Petty played to the masses downtown Toronto earlier this week. Bringing back the hits of years gone by, he not only pleased the 'fathers' in the audience, but got their 'daughters' too! Check out what songs he played...

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With Petty's repertoire spanning over thirty years, this was definitely a feel-good family outing to be had by all. For the 'parents' in the audience, Petty went back to his first release, circa 1976 with 'Refugee'. For the thirty-somethings, like me in the audience, Petty and The Heartbreakers brought back my memories of youth in the late 1980s/1990s with favourites like 'Mary Jane's Last Dance', 'Learning to Fly' and the classic 'Free Fallin' of which he played early in the set! Makes you wonder what he encored with......
For the newbies in the audience aka the ones who weren't drinking beer, and to keep his older fans satisfied with new material, Petty showcased select songs from his recently released, blues-laden record, Mojo. He even offered up free digital downloads of the record for those in the audience, proving he's well aware of how his newer audiences get their music. 

Here's to Tom Petty for 'Learning to Fly'!

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Photos & review by Jess Watt

Btw, he encored with a forgotten personal old fav of mine, 'Runnin' Down a Dream' and the up-tempo, 'You Wreck Me'.


 

 

Aerosmith put on a spectacle in many ways

Having rocked this way, since before I was born they're still killing it!!! Aerosmith remain the biggest selling American band of all time. As you may have heard, they passed through Toronto earlier this week. The scene was neon green from Steven Tyler's glowing tailored track pants to Joey Kramer's muscle shirt with green lazers in between. Before we get to the music, some stylists need to be fired.    


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The entire stage was covered with the classic Aerosmith wings flag and behind it was a dancing Tyler, shakin his booty to 'It's Gettin Hot in Here' before the show even started. When the stadium high flag dropped, Steven sprang out in those green things adorned with a sequined trenchcoat, signature shades, cowboy hat and bedazzled sketchers. Luckily Joe Perry still brings it, looking like a rockstar in his tight leathers, gold shoes, scarf and true aviator shades.         


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Right off the bat during some 'Love in an Elevator' people will be talking about Steven Tyler "falling off the stage", though perhaps he had a nudge by Perry? I gave him credit for jumping albeit, it was not a very rockstar jump.  The 3 ladies he landed on however seemed forever grateful.  He was unharmed and it was safety first all night, he even brought a mattress down the catwalk to crawl on for a cover of Van Morrison's 'Baby Please Don't Go'.  


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'Living on the Edge' came next although not too hard and not too strong. The extent of Tyler's living on the edge was him throwing his sunglasses into the crowd.  The accompanying video screens for this one displayed images of murder, terror... and the pope.  The glow in the dark stage was pretty awesome but the set was pretty minimal - screens, lights, 1 confetti cannon. Good music never relies on props, though they never hurt.  As the screenshot tightens on Tyler's large rings and animal print streamers (mirroring most of the crowd's pants), the show merges into a rather lengthy drum solo by Joe Kramer. This we've decided is to give Steven's strained voice a rest.  


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Aerosmith has some great hits and a few misses. There were some mediocre performances but really they're just mediocre songs, songs like 'Pink' and 'Falling in Love' are ok but not their best. But when they finally got to 'Cryin', which was not a moment overdue, they really hit their stride and reminded me why I was so pumped for this show. Tyler brought me to my knees "dyyyyin to let you..." That song is a greatest hit and the video is my favourite of all time which they played none of! Yeah Alicia Silverstone puts it to my ex-boyfriend Stephen Dorff. Girls! don't ever let a boy make you feel like you need to jump off a bridge. Just attach a bungee cord and give the mofo the finger on the bounce back up. Go watch the video - Aerosmith, can't believe you didn't show a single clip! Unlike 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing', where they showed the whole  video with Ms. Liv Tyler. Speaking of which, the multiple slutty animated silhouettes throughout the show kinda creeped me out because when they look like the lead's daughter, it's just weird.


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One of the highlights of the show was Joe Perry telling us how a kid at a meet and greet said he could beat him at guitar hero.  So he waged a war onstage to prove which was better... "a digital cartoon or flesh and bones". And after a kickass solo, the cartoon blew up and that debate was settled. Then he awarded himself the opportunity to play us the Blues on his favourite guitar adorned with the Canadian flag, which he played behind his head.   


Moments matching this one included the Lennon-worthy cover of 'Come Together', paying homage to the greatest band of all time Jess, that's right - The Beatles not the Rolling Stones. And they gave an all-star performance of one of the most classic rock songs of all time 'Sweet Emotion'.


The concert ended abruptly and was followed by the shortest encore of all time. But they did choose a powerhouse pair of epic tunes to come back with.


1) Their best song of all time 'Dream On' which sent the jury back with the verdict that Tyler and the boys indeed still have it simply by accomplishing those impossible high notes.           


2) And the final song of the evening was the anticipated 'Walk This Way' which is down in history in collaboration with Run DMC as the first rap-rock mash up of all time.


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So despite the fashion crimes, these guys still show us what separates the true rockstar legends - from the rest. Though they can't hit their songs as strong live anymore, the fact is that the songs themselves are strong enough to remain timeless. And if you ever get the chance to see Aerosmith, you won't want to miss a thing.


Witnessed by Jenn Good

Photos by Jess Watt

 




 

 

Crystal Castles

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Local duo and The Hour favourites, Crystal Castles lit up the Koolhaus in Toronto last Saturday night with the razor sharp siren sounds of producer Ethan Kath and shattering shrill voice of Ms. Alice Glass.  


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"Where's Alice?"


Playing tracks off both their self-titled albums, their expanded cult following exploded into an uncontrolled frenzy.  The vibe was frantic and unfettered, the wild and reckless youth took the place over.  We have witnessed multiple CC shows but the crowd at this one took the cake. Feeling all ages, but not,  these little fist-pumpers didn't care who they knocked in the head. The urgent infectious wave of sound set to the seizuring light show fueled the fire. 


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The lighting and effects have evolved but the Doc-clad, pencil skirted, Glass did not disappoint us with her spasmatic moves, sprawling along the floor. 'Courtship Dating' and 'Celestica' were performances of the night but 'Crimewave' continues to be their best song.  Crystal Castles, named after She-Ra, is like a knife fight while riding a motorcycle top speed through Hong Kong at night.         


Check em' out if you can before they make the jump to South America (!) later this year.


Jess & Jenn reunited.

 

 

NNEKA shows off her Heart(beat)

Making her debut Canadian performance at a sweaty soldout show at Toronto's infamous El Mocambo earlier this week, 28 year old Nneka brought the house down. Having freshly come off the touring Lilith Fair and with a stop at Lollapalooza, North America is finally waking up to Nneka.

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Backed by her 5 piece band, the Nigerian born, Deutschland raised, sang about among other things, corruption, bribery and injustice. After successfully covering fellow Nigerian and legend, Fela Kuti's VIP-Vagabounds in Power, accompianed by a hauntingly sing-a-long with the crowd of diverse urbanites, the performance took an unexpected turn. In a likely mix of both heat exhaustion and a lull in the show the room grew a little less packed and the bar louder. A minor intermission perhaps? No, just a bit of a breather for everyone in attendance, including the band.


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Things picked up with some Marley-esque guitar riffs and the soulful voice of Nneka once again filled the room. Nneka closed out the show with a towel on her head, looking like she just came out of the shower, that shower being the wave of humidity currently filling Toronto's summer.  A resurgennce of the crowd greeted the singer as she whispered the first few lines of Heartbeat, the infectious single off her third release, Concrete Jungle. And again, the club was hers.


Be sure to check out her myspace page, http://www.myspace.com/nnekaworld


Words & Photos by Jess Watt


 

 

WAKESTOCK 2010

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Wakestock kicked off for the second time in Collingwood's Millenium Park August 6-8th, and it came fast and furious with the world's best board riders, bangin bands and some bikini broads. The world's top wakeboarders, skateboarders and wakeskaters were in attendance, along with a lot of line-ups and the appearance of the legendary Public Enemy - Believe the hype!   

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The festival included some of the world's best Wakeboard Pros and upcoming Amateurs. Friday and Saturday's conditions were near perfect for the semi finals.

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But when it came to the finals on Sunday it was rough out there outside the wake. From rain to high winds the final four had a lot to contend with including injuries. And there were a few serious bails creating new injuries, even the Pros fall sometimes.

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It was Bob Soven who took home the win against the other final 3 including his brother who placed third. Bob did admit he also had the best conditions of the day. Soven who was sited by the announcer as the "best looking ginger in the house" was grateful for the win and for the chance to dance!

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And dancing there was, moshing and crowd surfing even, during the concerts at Wakestock and at the afterparties in the Blue Mountain Village.  The most notable performance was of course by the legendary Public Enemy. You better believe I was wearing my clock, I was surprisingly the only one. And they just killed it with their classics, especially 'Don't Believe the Hype', 'Terminator' and 'Fight the Power'.

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 Don't worry, Flav busted out his clock later and tore down the house with the power of Chuck D backed by an army theme of militance.

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And promoting peace, unity and togetherness, they did not appreciate some yahoos in the crowd throwing beer cans at people. In fact they stopped the show and made a point to call the guy out, Chuck D even threatening to go down there and get him himself. After D shouted "long live Wakestock", Flav gave us his togetherness philosophy on life and told us the 2 things he hates the most are racism and segregation. They closed their epic, energetic  and politically charged performance appropriately with 'Fight The Power'!

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Other amazing performances came by the name of USS - Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker. They brought us their anticipated antics, acrobatics, cardboard cutouts and onstage shakes!

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Surprise guest Maestro Fresh Wes who played during the USS set made our backbones slide while droppin that needle. His shining moment of the day however, was when he got to shout "don't believe the hype" during the PE show. Public Enemy big upped and encouraged the legacy of Canadian rap.

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Alexisonfire - and on fire they definitely were

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And surprise find Ko who just opened for Cypress Hill in the Tdot did an amazing job on the mic backed by a few boys we saw perform in the village the night before - Rebel Emergency.

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Other attractions included the skateboarding ramp with the best view ever.

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And the wicked mad stylings in the BMX department like this of Eric Favot

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Overall most of the Wakestock crowd was totally laid back, friendly and there to have fun. But there's always a few sideshow punks... The hooliganism didn't stop with the drunks in the village or the beercan chucking. Some total idiots pulled this trick. To be fair most of the kids were pretty awesome and well-behaved despite massive lineups and crowds. The overall Wakestock vibe has a comradery to it. It is a sense of community of the wicked, sick and ill but chill.  Surprisingly, most of the crowd had dispersed by the actual Wakestock finals, but like Flav, the true fans know what time it is!    

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I have gone to Wakestock since it started up in my cottage country in Bala and it is an annual event not to be missed. As Chuck D declared "LONG LIVE WAKESTOCK!!!
See ya next summer!

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Paul McCartney Let's 'Em In

The most successful songwriter in the world, #2 Beatle and knighted for his services to music, Sir Paul McCartney will be playing to a whopping 55,000 people in both Toronto and Montreal this week for a total of 3 shows. 
I was one in thousands that packed the ACC last night to witness the legend in all his glory. And glorified he was. After every song (approx. 30 of them) the crowd applauded and cheered with much enthusiasm. That is to say, that after performing each song, Sir Paul raised his arms to the crowd looking for approval. 

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After covering Jimi Hendrix's, Let Me Roll It, Paul recalled the first time the 1960s guitar god played the UK. Remembering how The Beatles had just released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band, and to McCartney's surprise, Hendrix himself covered the song. Like this anecdote, Paul divulged others throughout the set: dedicating Here Today to "John" and recalling the song Blackbird at the time was written for Southern U.S. civil rights.

The man who has his own coat of arms (really!) combined hits of his heydays: The Beatles & Wings and his not so heydays work with The Fireman, an on-going electronic experiment. Hey Jude, Helter Skelter, Let It Be, Live & Let Die, Yesterday, etc, all the favourites were played.

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Now having seen both a Beatle and The Rolling Stones in my lifetime, like the London 2012 Olympics has to currently decide who will headline the opening ceremonies. The timely question, and one The Hour favourites, Metric likes to ask: "The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?" 
I've said it many times and I stand by it: The Rolling Stones. :)

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Words & Photos by Jess Watt




 

 

High-kicking Juliette Lewis rocks Ontario

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Actress turned rockstar, Juliette Lewis is currently tearing through Southern Ontario and Quebec this week. If you loved her as Mallory Knox in the classic serial killing, Natural Born Killers or as Iron Maven in last year's Whip It!, you're not gonna want to miss her perform live. She is a firecracker on stage.

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Playing to a tight-packed club in downtown Toronto last night Juliette's musical talents shined alongside her pink glitter eye makeup. Starting the night out behind the drum kit draped in feathers, she quickly rose to centre stage and all over the stage, occupying the entire space, working it like she owned it. And owned it she did. The only time during the show where the crowd's eyes weren't glued on her was when she invited a few chicks from the crowd on stage to dance while she belted her heart out. Rare is it to see a show / performer that packs such a punch of both charisma and genuineness, not to mention high kicks!
Juliette is a hard working woman that in no way needs not to quit her day job, nor her night job. Rock on and roll out!

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Key tracks to check out are: "You're Speaking My Language", "Fantasy Bar", "Hard Lovin' Woman" and "Hot Kiss"

Words & Photos by Jess Watt


 

 

George's First Ever Motorcycle Roadrace

We're not sure what was braver - risking life and limb in his first ever motorcycle roadrace, or letting the cameras follow him. Watch George, #50, in this web exclusive video and judge for yourself.

 

 

 

Sting brings classic twist to hit songs

Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting, the former vocalist of The Police and now solo artist, played Toronto's Molson Canadian Amphitheatre last evening, bringing a new twist to his classic tunes. Having reunited with The 1970s/1980s new wave band The Police a few years ago, and hating it, Sting has returned to the concert circuit, this time with a bigger band, a 45 piece orchestra. But not just any orchestra, he's pulled out the stops and has alined himself with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, conducted by the flamboyant Steven Mercurio, out of London, England.



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Sting has put the classical touch on his own classics. You name it, he's singing it: Roxanne, Englishman in New York, Every Breath You Take, King of Pain, Message in the Bottle, Wrapped Around Your Finger, everything


The subdued greying crowd, all likely with an average age of 58, the same as Sting, sat back and took in the performance, as the tiny singer decked out in black, casually belted out the hits for close to three hours, including an age appropriate, intermission. Canada's national birds, er, pests, the Canadian geese seemed to enjoy the mellow atmosphere of the evening as they picked at the empty lawns of the amphitheatre. 


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Sting won't be winning over many new, younger fans with his take on his classics, but at least he's keeping his original fans happy and ageing ever so elequently with them. For me, kinda stuck in the middle of the age gap, born in 1977, the same year Roxanne came out, I'll stick with the classics in true form.


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Words & Photos by Jess Watt

 

 

Mr. Show Talks Show Biz - A Q&A with Bob Odenkirk

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He's one of those guys who's more of a household face than a household name, having appeared in popular shows like Weeds, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother and so on all the way back to Seinfeld in 1990. For more astute comedy fans he's well known as a writer/performer on Saturday Night Live (1987-95), as the creator and star of HBO's Mr. Show, alongside David Cross, as a featured cast member of Adult Swim's Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! - actually, you know what, just check his IMDB profile. It'll blow your mind.

Right now he's playing crooked lawyer Saul Goodman on the AMC hit Breaking Bad (about a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a meth cook) and producing and performing a comedy show for kids called "The Not Inappropriate Show". We caught up with him in Montreal at this year's Just For Laughs Festival before one of his family-friendly performances to get his take on the state of the entertainment industry. 

Q: What TV shows are you watching now?
Bob:
Even though I'm in it, I'm actually watching Breaking Bad. I actually haven't seen it all. I'm on second season and it's really amazing. The interesting thing about Breaking Bad is that it's like a movie... the main character has a personality arc, unlike most shows where the character personality is fixed from week to week. This character is gradually changing... mutating.

My favorite TV show, which I got to see on DVD is a British show called The Royle Family. It's awesome. That's where The Office came from. I also like 30 Rock, Hoarders, Intervention. I watch FOX News just to get mad.

Q: So what are your thoughts on the current state of the television industry?
Bob: I don't really care for the industry. But I do notice there are all these new channels. In one way it's exciting and in the other way it's very daunting. All of these people tend to be hungry for the big bucks. So you want the small outlets to do something cool. I remember HBO telling David Cross and I, "whatever you create for us, just make sure it's something different". Nowadays, even most of these small outlets are hungry for money. They just want to be in the mainstream. But I do think the Adult Swim channel is doing it right with comedy and AMC with drama.

Q: What's your take on comedy on the web?
Bob: I think it's cool... I love that there's an outlet for people. The only disadvantage is that you have to grow as an artist and you have to develop your sensibility and the web doesn't encourage that because what it wants you to do is just get peoples' attention today

Mr. Show would have died on FunnyorDie.com. We weren't doing things that were flashy and in the moment, or ridiculing pop culture of the moment - which gets a lot of attention - or doing extremely crude things. Those are the videos that are getting the big hits but they don't necessarily lead you into getting a show. Ultimately, to get picked up, somebody has to take a chance on your vision.

Q: Is that what happened for you?
Bob: Yes, and I myself as an artist in television need somebody to take a chance on me because I'll never write a middle of the road show. I can't do it. Although, I really liked King of Queens... and Everybody loves Raymond. I thought that show was masterful.

Q: Will there always be a future for sketch on television then, rather than online?
Bob: Sketch shows don't do that well on TV in America. They're just not that popular. It's the kind of comedy that draws a younger audience so older people don't really care about it. So that would hold it back. I mean the last sketch show that worked on prime time was The Carol Burnett Show.

Q: If you had your own TV network, what would you do?
Bob: There is this whole crop of young comic actors that I'm seeing right now that I would love to see get a chance. I know eventually most of them will be on screen but what I'm seeing right now is not just a bunch of funny people but more of a movement of a new generation. They're a good ten years younger than most of the people on TV, including SNL, and maybe it might be a matter of time till these people are seen but maybe not. So if you gave me my own network, I would give an outlet for these people who are starting to peak. 

Q: What's actually in the plan for you?
Bob:
I've got a show in early development right now. I star in it and it's about me and my camera crew working for a network and going out to middle America and doing these life story pieces. This is an idea I had ten years ago and I'd be very excited to do this show. I'm still not sure if it's going to happen but I'm very proud of it.

Here's what the stars of Breaking Bad have to say about Season 4.




And check out this clip from Mr. Show:




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Written by: Scott Goodyer  


 

 

Hour Producer's Short Film "Break a Leg" at JFL

Our own Jesse Shamata, a producer and director on The Hour, has written and directed a short film called "Break A Leg" which was selected to appear at a number of prestigious festivals and which you can check out at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal tomorrow night. Watch the trailer below and for showtimes and ticket info click here.

 

 

How to Pitch a Movie

The Just For Laughs Comedy festival is in full swing in Montreal right now and the festival is simultaneously hosting their annual Comedy Conference where top film and television execs and insiders share the secrets to their success in a series of panels.

We'll be smuggling out some of the best advice offered up for all you comedy fans and future media moguls.

From the film bootcamp session featuring David Milner (Producer/Executive, 3Arts Entertainment),  Joe Medjuk (Executive Producer,  Montecito Picture Company) , Kirsten Smith (Writer/Producer, 10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde, The Ugly Truth), and Kit Giordano (Creative Executive, Red Hour Films) here are the top 5 tips for pitching your comedy movie:

1. Get paid - You could lock yourself away in a tiny garrett and live on Ramen noodles while you pen your masterpiece but a lot of writers think spec is for suckers. Pitch the idea - not the completed script- and you could actually get paid to write.

2. Pimp yourself - This is not the time to be modest about your accomplishments or experience. This is the time to convince people that you are actually capable of executing what you propose to do, so by all means toot your own horn and make them have faith in you.
 
3. Keep it snappy - pitch meetings with studio execs or production companies are generally  25 minutes or less.  In that time you need to communicate the theme and tone, the story arc, principle relationships, maybe a few key actors who'd be perfect for the part and some killer moments or lines. Make sure it's all killer, no filler, but still know your story and characters well so that if they ask you a question, you can elaborate with ease.

 4. Be original - Apparently The Hangover was a movie no one wanted to make for a long time. But once it was made, everyone wanted another one or some reasonable facsimile. That's just how the business is.  But what film execs are really looking for is a new idea and a new story from a unique perspective. 
 
5. Cry - The purpose of a pitch meeting is to make people fans of your project, so excellent storytelling is crucial. Good pitchers have been known to laugh, cry and do whatever it takes to engage the people in the room as they take them through the ups and downs of their story. If someone is a funny person, execs believe that they'll produce a funny script. So, if you haven't got the chops, consider pairing up with someone who does.

The Just for Laughs Festival and comedy conference continues through Sunday, July 18th, so if you're in Montreal you can come check it out yourself. There are Comedy Pro passes available for all you big fans.

We'll be sharing more insider secrets from the festival right here so check back soon.

Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the comedy industry you wanted answered, post them in the comments section below and we'll hook you up with answers.

Written by: Scott Goodyer
 

 

 

The World According to Cheech and Chong



Back at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, we talked to two famously laid back guys, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, to get their take on some of the topics the rest of the world has got their panties in a bunch over.

Lindsey Lohan goes to jail

Cheech: I think it'll be good for her, actually.
Chong: She's gonna learn how to clean a carpet, I'll tell you that! And she's really gonna learn what, "Hey bitch, get over here!" means. I think she should hook up with Mel Gibson. That would smack her - er, I mean... PUT her in her place.

Mel Gibson losing control

Cheech: He's losing credibility fast, as well as dollars.
Chong: I hope he turns it around. He needs a year... somewhere. He can't control the situation. He needs to clean up.

Jersey Shore

Chong: When I saw The Situation, I realized... that's the wrong situation.
Cheech: I hate those reality shows, I just hate 'em.
Chong: Well, "Up in Smoke" was the first reality show. We didn't know it at the time... but it really was a slice of life.

Russian Spies

Cheech: I can't say anything because I'm married to a russian spy. Actually, I figured out what they're over here spying on... They're spying on all the new reality shows that are in development. They're going to transport them back to Russia before we can even get them on the air.

Lebron James

Chong: I think Lebron has a sex problem just like Tiger - because he's really fucking Cleveland.
Cheech: I would have liked to have seen him stay in Cleveland, but as long as he stays in the East, they'll just knock eachother out and the Lakers will win! We were just onstage in Boston taunting them, chanting "We're number 2! We're number 2!"

What do you guys think? Tell us in the comments below.  

Cheech and Chong are reunited after 25 years apart in tonight's Cheech and Chong gala at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.  

To see Cheech and Chong's Best Story Ever, click here.

Written by: Scott Goodyer




 

 

Tiff Opener - Score: A Hockey Musical

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George is only one of the many Canadian celebrities in Score: A Hockey Musical, which just scored the prestigious Tiff open night gig. To read more click here