Festival Music House at TIFF Showcases Canadian Songmakers

Now in it’s 8th year, Festival Music House continues it’s trend as an intimate invite-only event that showcases top-tier Canadian talent through shredding guitars solos, lofty voices and pulse pounding DJ sets.

FMH is a unique opportunity for TIFF delegates, producers, directors, writers, actors and music supervisors to connect amid intimate performances from Canada’s best established and emerging musical talents. On Sunday eve the one-night-only jam took over The Velvet Underground, turning Queen Street West into a veritable soundscape of Canadian music.

Kicking off the night was The Belle Game, an “ethereal crush pop band,” hailing from Vancouver. Emanating vibes of Beach House in terms of spacey guitar riffs and a dreamy synth and keyboard sound, the vocals were all raw power courtesy of lead singer Katrina Jones. The group played a tight set, clearly comfortable with each other on stage. They wasted no time destroying expectations and setting the well-dressed room alight with their sensual sound.

Following up the early West Coast sound was Gabrielle Shonk and company. Hailing from Quebec City, Shonk brought a bluegrass folk vibe to the Velvet Underground, allowing the crowd to stomp their feet and clap along to bluesy beats. The highlight of her performance had to be when she played an outstanding rendition of Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, with Shonk citing the singer-songwriter as a personal favourite.

Then Matt Mays and “the boys,” took the stage and proceeded to tear the Velvet down. As my favourite performance of the night, the group played anthems like Take It On Faith and Cocaine Cowgirls with such ferocity that the normally reserved crowd went bonkers. With groups breaking out in rhythmic grooves all over the room, Mays and the group rocked the crowd for a solid hour before jumping off to enjoy ice cold bottles of Grolsch.

I sipped the Dutch lager with glee, dancing with the pulse pounding rhythms of GrandTheft when they took the stage at midnight for their DJ set. They wound down the evening with a hypnotic sound perfect for getting your groove on, and the grooved-out atmosphere brought the crowd out in droves allowing them to tie the evening together perfectly.

By Devin Jones

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