Juno Fest Highlights

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Last weekend our ears were treated with the sounds of some amazing Canadian (and one American) bands at JunoFest in Winnipeg. Even though we play music every night when we’re on tour, it’s quite refreshing to go to a show that we aren’t playing and just be able to listen and enjoy. We saw some bands we had seen before and discovered some new ones, so I thought I’d tell you about it.

The first night we went to the Pyramid Cabaret to see Rah Rah, Hollerado, July Talks, and Born Ruffians. We didn’t stay long enough to hear Born Ruffians because we wanted to hit up another show, but we saw the other bands, and Rah Rah was definitely a highlight! I love a band with more instrumentation than just guitars, bass and drums, and they definitely delivered, with the addition of violin and keys, and lots of harmonies. The biggest thing that stood out to me about their show (other than really nice, catchy, dancy songs) was how they all switched instruments at different times, with great instrumental transitions. It was seamless, and really added to the show. These guys are definitely a band to check out and keep your eye on in the next few years. Their songs and showmanship were spot on.

Later that night we stopped by the West End Cultural Centre to catch the end of the Six Shooter Records showcase with a ton of amazing artists. We missed Luke Doucet‘s set, but we were able to catch a few songs at soundcheck earlier in the afternoon. He’s always a pleasure to listen to, whether solo or in Whitehorse, the project that him and his wife, Melissa McLelland, collaborate on.

We were, however, able to catch most of the Strumbellas‘ set. We played with them last year at Juno Fest in Regina, and they were super fun to listen to and watch. They play a unique brand of foot-stompin folk rock that’s easy to sing and dance to. It was definitely very entertaining.

The next day, after some failed attempts at busking downtown Winnipeg, we got tickets to see Royal Canoe, Imaginary Cities, The Lytics, and Nathan Music Co. with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. It was at a beautiful concert hall, and the show itself was incredible. Not only did all of the bands stand out in their own ways, but hearing folk/pop/hip hop music backed by an entire symphony is a magical experience.

The two highlights for me were seeing Imaginary Cities, who’s male and female lead vocals blend perfectly with sweet and simple pop instrumentation, and Royal Canoe, who give a visually and auditory stimulating show with crazy timings, weird effects, and about nine keyboards. It was so fun, and like I said, seeing all the bands play with the backdrop of the symphony was indeed a beautiful thing.

After that show, we went down the street to see the Arts and Crafts Tour. We’d been following our friends Reuben & the Dark, as they’ve been on this tour and we were really excited to see them live. As always, they put on a great show. The songs that Reuben writes are introspective, and at times a little dark, but they do an amazing job at making the songs soar. Tasteful guitar lines, layered synth, huge harmonies, and a unique drum set-up made them so enjoyable to watch and listen to.

Of the other bands on the bill, we only really got to see NO, a band from LA that reminded me a lot of The National, one of my favourite bands; and Megan Bonnell, who opened the night with sweet songs on the piano. I wish we could have stayed for The Darcy’s, but we were mad tired.

All in all, it was a great weekend. I hope this gives you some ideas of new bands to check out! They are all worthy of a listen! And I’d love to hear from you…what have you been listening to lately? Any bands that I should get into?

Until next time,



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