Canadian Music Festival: Metric, Matt Mays, Diamond Rings & Yukon Blonde (Indie Awards, Part II)

Here’s Metric’s “Artificial Nocturne” for you:

What: Indie Awards for CMF, Part II
Who: Metric, Matt Mays, Diamond Rings & Yukon Blonde

(See my previous post for a review of the first half of the SiriusXM Indie Awards)

Moving right along:
Yukon Blonde

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Courtesy of

Hannah and I saw Yukon Blonde open for Stars for CMF, so you can check out that post if you’d like a bit of a longer review (although it’s pretty gushy about Stars). Yukon Blonde’s new album, Tiger Talk, is streaming here. They played a couple of quick songs, which were more good-timey rock accompanied by dulcet vocals and streaming hair.

Yukon Blonde won the Alternative Artist or Group of the Year Award. They are worth exploring, if you are into the gentle indie rock!

Diamond Rings

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I have loved Diamond Rings, real name John O’Regan, for years. You can check out my post of him playing Sappyfest in August 2010, which was a memorable night for many reasons. And way back then, it was Diamond Rings setting up his own equipment, dancing around on a stage, wearing eyeliner and a basketball jersey, in a sketchy bar called Uncle Larry’s all by himself and still having a blast. Make no mistake, I’m stoked that he’s making it big as an electroglam pop icon and has a following and can play venues like Kool Haus now (and can afford fancy tight white jeans and a bleached blonde pompadour)! But I will always love him most for the first time I saw him. But it’s like that with a lot of bands, I suppose. Nothing trumps first-concert love!

At the Indie Awards, Diamond Rings was the first performer of the night who actually got the chance to play a real show. Although things started out a bit slow, he soon won the crowd over with his superior dancing skills, complete with sweat streaming down his face. He played mostly newer material, so I was a bit in the dark on that stuff since I don’t have his most recent album. His characteristic deep voice was great until the rapping started – not such a fan of that. But it’s good to try new things! Anyway, for now I’ll stick to endorsing his first album, Special Affections, because “Wait & See” will always make me smile and think of Sappy.

Diamond Rings was nominated for Artist of the Year and Male Artist of the Year. His newest album is called Free Dimensional (2012), so you can check that out if you enjoy electroglam pop. And the guy can dance for days, so see him live if you ever get the opportunity!

Here’s another photo, because he’s just so damn pretty:

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Matt Mays

Sadly, Jay Smith, Matt Mays’ long-time guitarist, died unexpectedly at the end of March – mere days after playing this show in Toronto, and mere hours after playing their show in Edmonton (no foul play is suspected, and damn, he was young). They pay tribute to him, and people can donate if they wish, on the Matt Mays site.

At the Indie Awards, Matt Mays and his band played a full show, complete with partial burning of the setlist for dramatic effect and long, jagged guitar riffs that my ears are still complaining about (I’ll be deaf one of these days from standing so close to so many speakers). They are an East Coast band, through and through – grateful and cheerful and loving life. As Mays put it, “We’re just a bunch of hobos and we love that we get to be up here playing music!” (That’s paraphrased, but he definitely said ‘hobos’).

Matt Mays was nominated for Rock Artist or Group of the Year and won the Male Artist of the Year Award, but it must be rather bittersweet. The band will be performing at the Jay Smith Memorial Benefit Concert in Cape Breton next Monday.


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Metric is another longtime love of mine. Lead singer Emily Haines is an amazing woman, and there’s so much talent packed into that tiny, fringe-coat-wearing, red-booted, wiry frame of hers. If you get the chance to lock eyes with her, even for a split second, it’s the sexiest you’ll feel all week. And it’s simply incredible to watch her perform with this band after so many years of fine-tuning their sound. Together, they are electric.

They played mostly songs from their two newer albums, Fantasies and Synthetica, but this wasn’t unexpected. And they started the show as I predicted, with the song at the top of this post. Her words that begin “Artificial Nocturne” rang out over the crowd, defiant and strong: “I’m just as fucked up as they say…”

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They played a long, energetic show, complete with mesmerizing video, and even threw in some older songs to satisfy everyone. Being another band from Toronto, they were sincerely touched to see so many beaming faces screaming their lyrics back at them excitedly for every song, and Emily voiced their appreciation: “You guys wanna be here with us, and we wanna be here with you! We just want to make music and play some shows, and you guys let that happen!” (Again with the paraphrase, but the feelings are accurate, I hope).

Metric was nominated for Album of the Year for Synthetica, Single of the Year for “Youth Without Youth,” Live Artist or Group of the Year, Video of the Year for “Youth Without Youth,” and Must Follow Artist of the Year. They won the Group of the Year Award and Best-Selling Independent Release of the Year for Synthetica. Not a bad haul at the Indies this year.

metric setlist

You can’t see that last song on their setlist, but Emily sang a beautiful acoustic version of “Gimme Sympathy,” and the rest of the band came out by the end to join in with her and the crowd singing. It was the perfect ending to the concert, and seeing Metric again was definitely worth the waiting, the standing, the feeling like I was going to faint (which happens at the most inopportune times, it seems). I must be getting soft in my old age, because I was definitely the overenthusiastic fan in the front row with tears streaming down her face.

A great ending to the Indie Awards. And Metric just keeps getting bigger, so who knows when I’ll get to see them again…


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