Peter Plies the Indie Tides

Funny how symmetrical Life is. Nearly a year ago, in a column about indie music, I mentioned how ubiquitous the genre is, and stated that someone would probably send me a video of a North Korean death metal group. “indie week” 2018 has just ended…….and a South Korean pop band won “Best Of The Fest”. Eerie, I would say.

I was invited to the “media launch party” which took place in October at the Hideout. Great time and great music. So many nice people, and I enjoyed myself immensely. Naturally I was euphoric to be able to attend the “launch party” last week at the “Revival Bar”. I had so much fun running into the usual suspects, like Cam, Dylan, Pat, Shannon and Kirk. With outstanding live music on two different floors, it was an excellent harbinger of the week to come. It would be a busy week, as I had been assigned 4 nights of judging.

Now I have had the pleasure of attending “indie week” for six years, first as a media person and more recently, as a judge. Like everything in Life, your decisions have consequences. As an attendee or media person, you generally have freedom of navigation and can visit as many venues as you want to.

As a judge, you have a commitment to be at a certain venue at a certain time. (One of my few virtues is that I am rarely late for anything!) I take the responsibilities of judging very seriously. For example, I always make certain that I able to perform my duties at my best, unimpaired. I always ensure that I leave my place early enough that I have time to spare in case of transit trouble. I never speak to any of the musicians before they play, to preserve at least the appearance of impartiality, nor do I applaud after a song. I observe everything and ask some questions of myself regarding such items as the band’s onstage chemistry and their connection with the audience. How do they use the stage? Does the frontman identify the various band members? Does s/he identify the band itself? Does anyone get any solo time? Any acknowledgement of the other acts or the venue? Like the briefing room scene in an air war movie, the “Hey Toronto, how you doin’ tonight?” moment is an inescapable cliché. It’s interesting to see how different people approach that particular hurdle. All of these are very minor points, but this judge certainly takes them into account cumulatively. As an aside, one of the points you are judged on at “indie week” is your song writing ability. Despite any personal feelings I may have for “Free Bird”, (for example), I don’t want to hear it at “indie week”. The only covers you have should be in your hotel room.

We live in a golden age of music, with creative people all around the globe writing and recording. This is your chance to get your music, your band, front and centre. By the way, the music this year, certainly the I music heard, was incredible. I didn’t envy the judges at the finals.

Now I’m not an olde crab. I do applaud at the end of the set, and, when the moment is right, go up and speak to one of band members, identifying myself as a judge. I always congratulate them on their set and give them some constructive criticism. I think that they appreciate that, and I will often wind up having a discussion with one or two of the band members. At the end of the adjudicated portion, I will, if I can, give the results. Not a big believer in building up tension, I will, once the room is reasonably quiet, announce the winner, congratulate the other bands, thank the volunteers and the venue and say a few words on the importance of supporting live indie music.

I really enjoy judging at “indie week”, and look forward to next year. The hard work of the entire  “indie week” team is paying off. Thanks, Darryl, et. al.

Finally, some random memories of “indie week 2018”

-Darryl Hurs’ pained expression when I “selflessly” volunteered to dispose of any extra drink tickets he had at the finals.

-Talking to a couple of young musicians, and when I told them that I didn’t play an instrument, I was just a fan, one of them said “People like you keep us doing what we do!” He didn’t have any cds, but he gave me a card with on line access to his music. The young man beside him gave me of HIS band’s cds.

-Running into Jim Draven outside the Mod Club. He was speaking with the manager and one of the members of a group. The manager gave me one of their cds.

-As I was leaving, hearing that “The Redhill Valleys” had been selected as the best emerging artists for 2018 by “indie week”.

-At the launch party, I got a Jack Daniels drink ticket and another ticket with numbers on it, which I put in my pocket. I ran into Pat Blythe at the bar. She said that I drank beer, so gave me her ticket with numbers on it. The two tickets did, indeed, prove to be beer tickets. I had thought that they were for a draw of some type. Imagine holding on to mine until they closed. I can hear myself asking “But when’s the draw?”

-Talking to Jaaji, one half of the outstanding group “Twin Flames”. I told him how very moving I found their music to be, and how great it was that they were telling the stories of injustices against indigenous peoples. He looked at me and simply said “We have to.” (A poignant reminder that not all great moments require fireworks for emphasis.)

See you soon


2 Responses to “Peter Plies the Indie Tides”

  1. funny about that beer ticket .. it was mine, that I gave to Pat when I left the launch party.. that ticket gets around more than I do! 😉

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