CMW 2015: weekday highlights

by Laura Eley

CMW features an obnoxiously large variety of artists over 10 days, across nearly a hundred venues, so not every new artist you come across is a sure shot of impressive entertainment. Every now and then, however, you get to be surprised.

Kaydee at Tattoo Queen West: A local rapper coming from nowhere other than Mississauga – which we’ve noticed over the last couple years is a home base to many of Toronto’s wordsmiths. Born as Kwesi Williams, Kaydee was introduced to hip hop as a kid by his older brother. He recently released a 21-track album called The Transition, featuring arms-length artists like BKS members JAI.R and WXLA.

We walked into the show just as Williams hit the stage at the half-filled Tattoo. It was immediately clear that Kaydee has a lot of passion for what he does and for his community. His hard-hitting lyrical rapping style lives on much better in a live show, there is something about his voice that does not translate as impressive on record, though that could be the fault of a budget production. Working the stage from side to side with occasional melodic back up singers, Kaydee quickly gained respect of that stiff audience, inviting them to join him on stage near the end. This kid is a golden child, in his mama’s words, and he’s living up to it. Let’s wait and see who he grows up to be as an artist.

Xavier Rudd & The United Nations at The Opera House: Whether you’re sipping a glass of merlot or standing in the balcony at a Xavier Rudd & The United Nations show, you can expect similar results: a drop in blood pressure and increased affection for the strangers around you. Front man Rudd, (who would probably prefer to be referred to as Xavier) lit-up The Opera House stage with his eight-piece band, The United Nations, as part of CMW’s spotlight on Australia. Barefoot, tanned, and grinning from ear-to-ear, Xavier and the band, which among others included two back-up singers, a wooden flutist, and a warrior keyboardist, delivered a reggae-fused rock set that showcased the group’s 2015 album release, Nanna. Playing off the album’s symphonic sound, it truly felt like a live jam session around a bonfire. It definitely delivered Xavier’s feel good message of one love.

HolloH at Parts & Labour: A Toronto based DJ/producer duo, blending heavy beats, deep house and hard-hitting techno. Having gained attention from the likes of Skream and Basement Jaxx, HolloH have already appeared on last year’s TIME Festival bill and will  undoubtedly be someone you’ll stand in line to see in the near future. Their CMW showcase, however, wasn’t the best environment. Having just hosted a Vice party, Parts & Labour emptied out before HolloH got on stage. There must have been all of ten people in the club and lets be frank, thats a couple dozen too few to make a dance party happen, though the music warranted the potential for a solid sweaty one. We’ll make an effort to find them the next time the boys come out to play live.