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  • Jordan Maahs

James Bay is one of the most-buzzed-about emerging artists of the year—and it’s for good reason. The 24-year-old Brit has won the hearts of both fans and critics thanks to an impressive collection of addictive and intimate tracks largely driven by his goosebump-worthy vocals and stunning guitar work, all of which come together on hit songs “Let it Go” and “Hold Back the River”.

Bay began his current North American tour with a couple of Canadian dates, including a return to Toronto on Monday to play a sold-out show at The Mod Club. This is the British artist’s first solo date in Toronto—as well as his first solo North American tour—, and it comes hot on the heels of his recent gig opening for Irish crooner Hozier last October at the Phoenix.

The soulful indie-rocker commented on his rapid rise in popularity throughout the night, clearly humbled by the increasingly massive response he has been receiving for his critically acclaimed debut album, ‘Chaos and The Calm’. The receptive and enthusiastic fans fortunate enough to grab tickets to the (almost instantly) sold-out show danced along to his more upbeat tunes—such as opening song “Collide” and the bouncy “Best Fake Smile”—while heartily belting out passionate sing-alongs like “Let It Go” and “If You Ever Want To Be In Love”. Bay closed out the show with his hit single “Hold Back The River”, but only after surprising the audience with his take on Alicia Key’s “If I Ain’t Got You”.

He has been singled out as (if he isn’t already) the “next big thing” this year by just about everybody, so if he has managed to slip under your radar — check out this stunning live performance.

#jamesbay #letitgo #holdbacktheriver #themodclub #hozier #phoenix #chaosandthecalm #collide #bestfakesmile #ifyoueverwanttobeinlove #ifiaintgotyou #aliciakeys #folk #acoustic #live #video

  • Cam Lynch

With dozens of enticing music festivals once again taking place all over the world this summer, it’s financially difficult and time-consuming to commit to more than one or two. Here’s a shortlist of some of the more intriguing festivals that may offer more than just music.

6ixth Annual OVO Fest

(Aug 1-3, Toronto, ON)

October’s Very Own presents Toronto with its very own Drake and his annual hometown performance with his famous friends. Headlining this year is on-top-of-the-world comedian Kevin Hart, on Day 1, followed by performances from J.Cole and Big Sean on the 2nd. Drake’s act concludes on the final night with special guests TBA (as usual), although they’ve rarely disappointed in the past with appearances from Eminem, Kanye West and even Stevie Wonder.

Summerfest

(June 24th-28th, June 30th-July 5th, Milwaukee, WI)

Advertised as “The Worlds Largest Music Festival” and even approved by Guiness as such, this festival giant spans 11 days and 11 stages, boasting (arguably) the best bang of musical talent for your buck. With tickets capping out at $80US, it’ll be hard to find a better bargain where you’ll see The Rolling Stones, Linkin Park, Kings of Leon and Weird Al Yankovic at the same venue.

Osheaga Musique festival & Arts

(July 31, Aug1-2, Montreal, QC)

Now in its 10th year, Osheaga Musique festival & Arts festival aims to be bigger than ever with an excitingly large list of headlining acts. Between the fascinating urban-art installations and performances from artists like Florence + The Machine, Action Bronson, Weezer, Interpol and Nas, there’s always something to occupy this fast-paced 3-days. General admission sits at about $275CDN with VIP options available.

Hard Summer Music Festival

(Aug 1-2, Pomona, CA)

In the EDM/Hip-Hop department, Hard Summer might be your best bet. Not many other festivals in the genre combine the same mixture of current fame (The Weeknd), classic names (The Chemical Brothers) as well as up-and-comers (OVERWERK). And with wild, shock rocking Die Antwoord playing only a select few North American festivals this summer, it’s almost worth making the trip for just to see what they’ll do. Passes for the 2-day event are also a modest $169US.

Hangout Music Fest

(May 15-17, Gulf Shores, AL)

The Foo Fighters, Beck, Sam Smith and Skrillex headline the beach-themed fiesta on the sandy shores of southern Alabama. With many summer festivals offering all-natural camping quarters, Hangout can provide you with beach-front balconies that include hot-tubs, outdoor grills and access to the pools. Tickets begin at $249US, assuming you’re not opting for the VIP packages.

#ovo #ovofest #drake #kevinhart #jcole #bigsean #eminem #kanye #kanyewest #steviewonder #aircanadacentre #molsoncanadian #amphitheatre #yg #jeremih #bas #cozz #omen #livenation #summerfest #guiness #therollingstones #linkinpark #kingsofleon #weirdalyankovic #osheaga #actionbronson #weezer #interpol #nas #florencethemachine #florenceandthemachine #florencethemachine #theweeknd #thechemicalbrothers #overwerk #dieantiwoord #hangoutmusicfest #foofighters #beck #samsmith #skrillex #events #liveevents #breakingnews #festivals #musicfestivals #summerfestivals

  • Jordan Maahs

When their massively successful debut album ‘Boys & Girls’ dropped back in 2012, there was no denying that a key factor in the Shakes' magnetism was the raspy, soulful, smoldering vocals of phenomenally talented lead singer Brittany Howard. The powerhouse female vocalist — a 20-something truck driver and postal worker who had never been out of her home state of Alabama — seemed to just appear out of the blue, which only magnified the stunning impression left by their debut.

Alabama Shakes are now back with their much-anticipated sophomore album, and NME has summed it up perfectly: “One of the biggest hurdles facing Alabama Shakes on ‘Sound & Color’ is that you’ll never be able to hear Brittany Howard’s voice for the first time again.” After receiving enormous success with ‘Boys & Girls’, there are few music fans who have not heard Howard’s impressive vocals in one way or another — and for that reason, ‘Sound & Color’ will not receive the same industry-rattling buzz associated with their debut effort.

That being said, Howard’s gritty vocals and the refreshingly genuine blues sound of Alabama Shakes is not one that simply loses impact. ‘Sound & Color’ is polished, lush, raw, and rich with pure soul and emotion. There is no overlooking Howard as one of the greatest vocalists in the industry today, and their sophomore album is just further evidence of this fact. Though it may not grab you on your first listen, first single “Don’t Wanna Fight” will be in your head for days, and smooth-as-honey album highlight “This Feeling” will remind you of why this band skyrocketed into the indie music scene back in 2012.

Alabama Shakes will be back in Toronto this summer to headline Field Trip Festival on June 6th. Their album is available to stream on Spotify.

#alabamashakes #soundcolor #brittanyhoward #boysgirls #dontwannafight #soul #rock #blues #female #stream #spotify #boysandgirls #postalworker #nme #soundandcolor

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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