In response to The Grid’s “Is Toronto the greatest music city in the world?” article

the grid music city

This week's cover of The Grid. Courtesy of their website.

Here’s an unusual post for me and this blog. A rant! After griping about The Grid’s cover story on Twitter this morning and receiving a slightly overwhelming response, I’ve decided to air out my feelings here.

This week, The Grid got a cover story about music published. Awesome. But when it’s posing the question “Is Toronto the greatest music city in the world?” I somehow have a problem with it (and not because all of their covers look like web ads I would never click). I don’t want to have a problem with it, but I do. Here’s why.

Just because there are a lot of bands from Toronto on some popular Best of 2011 lists, that makes us worthy of ruling the world? I want to give a hearty congratulations to Feist, Fucked Up, Austra and even Drake for putting out successful albums last year. Good job. You guys did great! Critics loved you! But I don’t think you’re ready to rule the world quite yet. But hold up, since when did any city ever rule the world for their music? I have never heard of such a thing. I had never thought ‘Oh yeah New York City just dominates those little towns with their music scenes.’ Why do we feel like we have to rule the world? What competition is this? Don’t people realize that every city has lots of different kinds of music and LOTS of people who make it? Be happy with what your city is producing, and be proud people are getting a lot of recognition, but do we have to go farther than that? This is so sensational and something we’d say when we were teens.

Sure that article is the kind of post most writers secretly want to write. But I wouldn’t say they’d want to write it like the way it was written. Part of a music journalist’s job is to get the word out on who they think deserves it, and sure they want everyone to like what they like and see the good that comes from where they are. But it does not have to be done in such a shallow, vain and redundant article. And I bet anyone outside of Toronto barely cares and is even probably quite annoyed.

As someone who absolutely adores this city, works to promote it and its fantastic music scenes and has been thinking about ways to take closer looks at music scenes in cities, I want to like something like this. But I just can’t. I just feel face-palms. I like that we can show how we have many talented people working here and I like that others take notice, but let’s save this for our next tourism books and websites. In fact, I highly suggest that tourism channels for Toronto use the music scenes to get more people here.

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

You don’t have to love all of the bands that have emanated from Toronto in the past decade to recognize that this has been a period of exceptional musical quality, not to mention bracing originality.

So has this gust of creativity made Toronto the greatest musical city in the world, more dynamic and vital than even London or New York? The question is deliberately grandiose, and, of course, impossible to answer.

Response to that: First paragraph – okay, cool, yay. This is true. Second paragraph – did you actually just write why this question is useless?

The New York Times blog even picked up. Written by a Torontonian. And yes I know this, because he wrote disclaimers in the post four times.

I guess because Megavideo’s down, Jay-Z’s back to saying the word bitch and we might finally be over Lana Del Ray, we don’t have much else to talk about.

Basically what I’m trying to say is: way to go Toronto, your stars shine pretty brightly these days. But whatever, we’re a city. Just like all the other cities. Now let’s go back to looking for more talented people, telling people about them, but with some context and modesty. There’s no need to rub an opinion like this in everyone else’s faces.

Contest: Win two tickets to HotKid, the Cheap Speakers, Dilly Dally & Alex Pulec DJ set

One lucky person and one lucky friend of theirs will win guest list spots to next Friday’s (July 15) killer Two Way Monologues show at Sneaky Dee’s. The wicked lineup is Dilly Dally, the Cheap Speakers, HotKid and a DJ set by the Ruby Spirit’s Alex Pulec.

TO ENTER:
Email roundletters @ gmail . com with “I want to get sweaty at Sneaky’s”
I will compile all the entries and pick a winner from a random draw. I will only contact the winner.

ENTER BY:
12:01AM Thursday July 12

Dilly Dally is a Newmarket-based pile of spunk. Their sound feels like those summer memories years ago that are just a daze but you’re reaching out in front of you trying to get them back just for a taste. It’s woozy but in the kind of way that one eyebrow is raised, always at the ready.

The Cheap Speakers is a Toronto rock band that I forsee will turn the volume and the crowd up on Friday night. They’re polite rabble rousers and it makes for a refreshing attitude. They’ve recently come off of an Eastern Canadian tour and are apparently armed with new material.

HotKid was on tour with Sloan just last week. The guy/gal duo have updated their website with blog posts about it a bazillion times since, so I’ll say there’s not much doubt that their excitement will be gone by next Friday yet, and I’m looking forward to hearing them blow the roof off the venue with their gritty garage rock.

Alex Pulec has been getting into DJ’ing surf rock and rockabilly around town lately and he’s ready to take over the last spot of the night, letting everyone continue to sweat it out to dance moves across the jumpy Sneaky’s floor. He’s been beefing up his vinyl collection, so get ready to Rock Around the Clock (or at least until last call).

Good luck!

Introducing: Static Zine

static zine - cover
Things around these parts have been a bit mum from me lately. I’ve been incredibly busy putting together the first issue of Static Zine – a fun new Toronto arts and life zine. Yes that’s right, a zine. Every time I go somewhere to drop them off now and say that word, I get some pretty funny looks. But this has worked out really well so far with an amazing team of contributors, already running out at numerous locations after a few hours and we’ve already been interviewed!

Besides just launching the zine, we also put together a mixtape of 16 Toronto bands: Maylee Todd, Sister, Austra, Bravestation, Heartbeat Hotel, Dora Alexander, Sports, Matters, Action Makes, The Ruby Spirit, Allie Hughes, Nightbox, The Meligrove Band, Timber Timbre, Bruce Peninsula and The Wilderness of Manitoba.

Download the first Static mixtape.

static flyerWe’re throwing a launch party on the last day of NXNE. Here’s the Facebook event, and you can see the show poster above.  We’ll have performances by Jeans Boots, Kat Burns of Forest City Lovers, Lowell Sostomi of Great Bloomers, The Ruby Spirit, Bravestation and Sister. I am beyond excited!