Music-lovers and the Canadian music industry came together at the Polaris Music Prize Gala to celebrate and reward the best Canadian album of the past year.
This year the honour of the Polaris Music Prize went to post-rock band Godspeed You! Black Emperorfor "'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!" Although Godspeed chose not to attend the Gala, their talent, unique sound, and non-conformist ways were definitely remembered. Music journalist and author Jessica Hopper commemorated the band during the Gala by pointing out what a successful career a band can have by saying 'No'.
Indeed, they kept that streak alive with a statement released after their win, which included their promise to donate the $30,000 prize winnings to buy musical instruments for prisoners.
A FEW WORDS REGARDING THIS POLARIS PRIZE THING
hello kanadian music-writers.
thanks for the nomination thanks for the prize- it feels nice to be acknowledged by the Troubled Motherland when we so often feel orphaned here. and much respect for all y’all who write about local bands, who blow that horn loudly- because that trumpeting is crucial and necessary and important.
and much respect to the freelancers especially, because freelancing is a hard fucking gig, and almost all of us are freelancers now, right? falling and scrambling and hustling through these difficult times?
so yes, we are grateful, and yes we are humble and we are shy to complain when we’ve been acknowledged thusly- BUT HOLY SHIT AND HOLY COW- we’ve been plowing our field on the margins of weird culture for almost 20 years now, and “this scene is pretty cool but what it really fucking needs is an awards show” is not a thought that’s ever crossed our minds.
3 quick bullet-points that almost anybody could agree on maybe=
-holding a gala during a time of austerity and normalized decline is a weird thing to do.
-organizing a gala just so musicians can compete against each other for a novelty-sized cheque doesn’t serve the cause of righteous music at all.
-asking the toyota motor company to help cover the tab for that gala, during a summer where the melting northern ice caps are live-streaming on the internet, IS FUCKING INSANE, and comes across as tone-deaf to the current horrifying malaise.
these are hard times for everybody. and musicians’ blues are pretty low on the list of things in need of urgent correction BUT AND BUT if the point of this prize and party is acknowledging music-labor performed in the name of something other than quick money, well then maybe the next celebration should happen in a cruddier hall, without the corporate banners and culture overlords. and maybe a party thusly is long overdue- it would be truly nice to enjoy that hang, somewhere sometime where the point wasn’t just lazy money patting itself on the back.
give the money to the kids let ‘em put on their own goddamn parties, give the money to the olds and let them try to write opuses in spite of, but let the muchmusic videostars fight it out in the inconsequential middle, without gov’t. culture-money in their pockets.
us we’re gonna use the money to try to set up a program so that prisoners in quebec have musical instruments if they need them…
amen and amen.
apologies for being such bores,
we love you so much / our country is fucked,
godspeed you! black emperor
Taking place in Toronto's historic venue, The Carlu, where many music legends -- including Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Glen Gould -- have performed, the Polaris Prize Gala proved that Can-musicians are diverse, talented, and have overwhelmingly dedicated fans. Musical performances by the Short List nominees, from spine-chilling voice (and choreography) of Zaki Ibrahim to the surreal, and multi-layered sounds of sax player Colin Stetson, gave the attendees a generous taste of the many flavours of Canadian music.
Co-hosts, and past nominees, Shad and Kathleen Edwards kept the audience entertained with witty and silly humour, giving the attendees many occasions to contribute to the 'Kathleen Edwards Swear Jar', with all proceeds going to Canada's music education charity, MusiCounts.
Death From Above's Sebastian Grainger introduced Metric and deemed their album "Synthetica" as "the future and the past." Film and TV Writer and Director Martin Gero introduced musician Colin Stetson - who pulled out the biggest sax in saxophone history during his performance - assuring the audience that Stetson's music "is unlike anything you've ever heard before." Judging by the audience's eager clapping post performance, we'd say they agreed.
Polaris Prize-nominated artists Tegan and Sara couldn't make it to this year's Gala, but their hit song "Closer" was performed by Choir! Choir! Choir!; a brilliant move that highlighted the touching and humbling side of music.
The evening wasn't without surprises: Sarah McLachlan appeared as surprise guest to introduce Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet, who "tie the musical knot with Whitehorse".
While introducing the METZ Canadian Indie Rock singer and songwriter Bry Webb, encouraged the crowd to "celebrate good people, celebrate loud music, celebrate your younger self."
The evening's performances came to an end with 2008 Giller-prize winner Joseph Boyden introducing the last, but definitely not least, nominee of the night, A Tribe Called Red: "Listen to their electric pow-wow, and I dare your body not to start moving, your legs, your pounding heart, your nodding head."