Polaris Blogfest

Winner, 2012 Polaris Music Prize.

It is time, once again, for Canada’s Polaris Prize, where a jury tells us what album over the last twelve months has been the peak of artistic triumph or something like that. I’ve had a crap day. This will soothe the troubled soul.

6:02- Grant Lawrence and Lauren Toyota pay tribute to Sam Sniderman, who gave us Sam the Record Man, the legendary Canadian record chain. I bought my first record at a STRM.

6:08- Jonathan Dekel introduces 2009 Polaris winners and my personal fave Fucked Up’s David Comes to Life. They play “Queen of Hearts” and are mind-blowing, then follow-up with “The Other Shoe” and rule the universe. Damain and co.- you kick ass. Totally and completely.

6:17- Damian is now shirtless. Typical Damian.

6:19- Damian paws Grant in front of his own wife and newborn. Oh, Damian.

6:21- the annual sit and wait game as the live gala changes the stage for the next act. This is gonna happen. A lot.

6:33- Lauren brings it back to us, welcomes Sarah Liss to present up Handsome Furs’ Sound Kapital. Excellent record, one of my faves in the mix. Alexei Perry makes a speech, but the band does not play. “Art and literature saved my life.” Amen, sister.

6:38- Grant insists the jury is not sacrificing goats.

6:40- Liisa Ladouceur, Canada’s première gothic goddess, introduces Cold Specks. God, what a voice Al Spx has. Just goose pimply.

6:46- I need to listen to the Cold Specks album again. I’m missing out.

6:50- Cold Specks was spell binding. Wowza.

6:51- Grant: “Want to say something about your nomination?” Al Spx: “Cool.” Then back to the waiting game.

7:00- still waiting.

7:02- the awesome Alan Cross introduces Japandroids. The band is in Germany. Bad geology- career in rock joke from Mr. Cross.

7:05- Grant begins playing “Cool people in the room” game. Lawrence Hill, Dave Hodge, Jian Ghomeshi, Owen Pallett, Sarah Harmer, Tony Decker, Lindy Ortega, Rose Cousins. God damn, Canadians are cool.

7:08- Andreanne Sassville is in charge of presenting Cadence Weapon. Canadian hip hop on the stage, y’all. And it’s killer, baby.He’s got the rooms jumping. “Conditioning” is a brilliant song choice for this show.

7:14- “Hope in Dirt City” has that Flock of Seagulls vibe that makes my heart soar.

7:18- Damn, Cadence Weapon is funny, too. What do you expect from an Edmonton lad, though? (Edmonton Lass here, though I live now in Calgary).

7:19- The wait game begins again.

7:26- Grant and Lauren try to calm the crowd. And as they read tweets, they attempt to get the balcony to do the wave. It is a fail.

7:28- Chris Murphy from Sloan is upset his invitation got lost in the mail, and he is not still bitter about the Rose Chronicles beat Sloan for best new band at the Junos. I saw Sloan twelve days ago. They are killer live. Digression over.

7:29- Bryan Acker introduces Kathleen Edwards. I’m a fan. She’s playing the lovely “A Soft Place to Land”. I’m swaying. Kiddie choir and all. Amazing.

7:38- And my live feed cut out in the middle of Kathleen Edwards speech. Last thing heard – “I fucking lost.”

7:41- Feed back just in time for the waiting game to start again. Fuck right off.

7:51- And we are back, and Johnny Hockin is attempting to describe Grimes’ album. Good luck with that, dude.

7:54- Grimes plays “Symphonia IX”. And there is a male stripper on the pole. He’s, uh, flexible.

7:59- Now time for “Genesis”. She dazzles in her stillness. Yes, this is far from her best performance, but she is compelling regardless. The male stripper is still bendy. She’s wearing a Marilyn Manson t-shirt. The dancer’s name is Gary, and Grant makes a bad package joke. Oh, Canada, how I love thee.

8:17- Poet and viking Natalie Zina Walschots introduces Yamantaka//Sonic Titan, the buddhist metal stoner dance music lunatics. She uses the atomic metaphor. It works well. Trust me. She’s not wrong. They are weird in the best sense of the word.

8:29- Weirdly awesome performance by Yamantaka//Sonic Titan. And a Musicounts plug. Great charity, poster auction is online right now, musicounts.ca. And confirmed that there is definitely no Drake performance tonight.

8:30- Wait, wait, I never got a chance to love you.

8:37- I’m waiting for my man, twenty-six dollars in my hand.

8:40- Where ever you go, whatever you do, I’ll be right here waiting for you.

8:41- Drake. Yeah. Tyrone Edwards, Rap City host, talks about Take Care. It is a great album, best hip hop Canadian album so far. Sorry, k-os and K’naan.

8:45- Nicholas Jennings pays tribute to Feist and Metals. If it wasn’t for the genius of Fucked Up or the sheer joy of Japandroids, I might call this the winner.

8:47- Feist plays “Caught A Long Wind” and “The Bad in Each Other” and dazzles every step of the way. Jian Ghomeshi is tweeting that a woman might be the winner, but there is also another tweet floating around I saw saying that Fucked Up are about to win. Kind of want Yamantaka//Sonic Titan to win just to fuck with everyone’s brain.

8:58- The performances end.  The decision has been made. After party at the Drake Hotel, all.

9:01- Momentary pause, then Grant reads an email from Jason Sniderman, Sam the Record Man’s son. I’m now weepy. God bless rock and roll!

9:03- Tim and Jeremy from Arcade Fire come up to present, and the winner of the 2012 Polaris Music Prize is Feist for Metals.

It’s well deserved, even if it wasn’t my favourite.

The thing about the Polaris Prize is that unlike the U.K. granddaddy Mercury Prize, it shows off an amazing cross-section of Canadian music that some of us do not get to hear . While artists like Feist and Drake have large international audiences, smaller but beloved acts like Kathleen Edwards, Handsome Furs, and Cadence Weapon get a new audience, and up and comers like Japandroids and Yamantaka//Sonic Titan get to be heard. Awards may be frivolous in the scheme of art, but it’s important for these artists to be heard by a wider audience.

Celebrate music.


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