The Indies Pt. 1 featuring Cold Specks, Candence Weapon, 360, the Wooden Sky Kool Haus, Toronto, ON, March 22

The Indies Pt. 1 featuring Cold Specks, Candence Weapon, 360, the Wooden Sky Kool Haus, Toronto, ON, March 22
Photo: Lucia Graca
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What an odd beast the Canadian Independent Music Awards (aka the Indies) is. Is it an awards show with a sprinkling of concerts? A concert with a strange extended preamble? Could it be a music festival? Is it a celebration?

As an experience, it is a decidedly uneven one. Like the Polaris gala — albeit without the dinner — it is punctuated with mini-sets from a smorgasbord of artists. So, at the outset, Cadence Weapon delivered a scorching two-song performance. An amped up "Hype Man" got things started, followed by an introduction from MC Jeff Leake, which ironically aimed at inciting excitement (i.e., hype).

Cadence Weapon's mini-set may have argued for letting music speak for itself. Nevertheless, it was an awards show after all. Someone had to give out hardware. Thus, Marianas Trench claimed a Favourite Video prize, giving the requisitely pleasant and thankful speech.

In a bar setting, though, pausing a gig for occasional chatter wreaks havoc on pace, though the solution isn't particularly clear-cut. This is just some spit-balling here, but perhaps trophies (well, symbolic guitars) could be given out in a musical way? Maybe not.

Anyway, 360 showed up with his Mike Skinner-lite shtick, which, evidently, has set the Australian airwaves alight. Still, after Cadence Weapon it was a slight outing, despite the spirited work of his hype man.

The Wooden Sky fared better, though they had to contend with a sound vacuum. And Cold Specks, armed with just her mammoth voice and electric guitar, struggled to battle past the din of the growing crowd.

Yes, the show sounds like a train of mostly disparate happenings. It was. Plowing through a number of acts and handing out scores of guitars (or was it just one, recycled?), the Indies was structured in a way that relentlessly ticked off boxes. (Incidentally, Canailles and Poor Young Things scored $5,000 in prize money, which never hurts.)

But then, seemingly out of nowhere, the event turned into something more interesting…