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Music supervisor Joel C. High blogs about his favorite part of the Toronto International Film Festival; a three night showcase called Festival Music House. He reports on night two featuring Sheepdogs, Lights, The Sam Roberts Band and more!

I'm sitting in the Mod Club for the third straight evening of blissful musical overindulgence at the Festival Music House during Toronto International Film Festival. The first band of the night at the 8pm slot have just started and they are they are blowing the doors off with their beautiful wall of sound melodies. I'll have more on them and the four other artists slated for tonight (including Hey Rosetta! and Arkells) tomorrow. Probably written on my 5 1/2 hour flight back to Los Angeles tomorrow morning.

Right now, I'd like to recap the feast of music from last night.

At 8pm we had maried solo artists Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet ,who have joined their individual powers into a powerhouse duo they call Whitehorse. I featured the two of them playing together on a Canadian Blast BBQ I hosted at SXSW a few years ago, but that was more a case of them playing on each other’s songs.

Whitehorse is just the two of them singing together in their roots rock style with Melissa on accoustic guitar and her beau playing his incomparable electric guitar stylings. In addition, they are incorporating loops and pedals and one-man-band-style kickdrum and percussion elements. They still have some rough edges, but they are so good together that I really don’t want them to stop and can wait to hear the whole record!

After that smoking set came the four women of Ladies of the Canyon and their back up guys – fresh from the Canadian County Music Association Awards. They play a contemporary mix of country harmonies with a good dose of Fleetwood Mac and other 70s influences. They had good presence and I enjoyed the switching lead vocal duties between the Ladies. but felt they could really be stronger. In fact, I'd love to hear what could happen with a good Nashville songwriting session under their belts. Really a lot of potential.

I was really looking forward to our third artist of the night. Lights has a great pedigree despite being only 24. She was the Juno Awards Artist of the Year in 2009 and has been collaborating recently with both Holy Fuck and Shad – two of my favorites from the Toronto scene and musically very different. Her music shows her influences as she wove some dark electronic elements into her infectious dance pop. She was backed by a phenomenal band and it really feels like she has all the elements together to break through with her new music.

Following the electro girl dance music of Lights came the complete opposite band I could imagine: The amazing Sheepdogs. We showcased the band earlier in the year in Los Angeles, and they impressed me then. They are unabashedly hairy Canadians playing their own version of southern (American) rock. Hats continually tipped to Lynyrd, the Doobies. The band they brought the rock to the Mod Club. They brought that same rock to “Late Night WIth Jimmy Fallon” recently with a mini battle of the bands, and won a contest to appear on cover of “Rolling Stone”!

And pulling anchor duties was the Sam Roberts Band. Last time I saw them it was in a tiny room with terrible sound at SXSW, but even then they really impressed. In a jam-packed Mod Club with great sound a full light effects, I was in the presence of real rock stars. It’s all in the right combination of great songs, amazing musicians, and total swaggering self-confidence that elevates an artist to that level where a simple industry festival showcase becomes a great concert experience. They gave it their all an the audience gave it right back in spades.

Ahh good times. Hotel by 3am. Feet hurt. Ears ringing, but ready for the final night at Festival Music House. Tonight. Parlovr is killing it!

More soon.


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