I Have No Love For The Junos


I made my way to the front of The Exchange Saturday night, eager to check out Saskatoon’s Shooting Guns, and settled in with the leather jackets and long hairs in front of the stage. My drying contact lenses itched and my beer was warming in my hand, but I felt that all-too-infrequent electrical excitement beginning to crackle in my body.

After the relentless bore of the Saturday night Juno Gala media room, I arrived tired from the string of industry-manufactured award winners filing in for questions, crystal trophies glittering heavily in hand. The beer was cut off early and the winners’ list handed out immediately, so if there was any zing to be had, it was quickly depleted. Also, my spiritual horse in the race Montreal’s epic Ratchet Orchestra, didn’t win for best Instrumental Album of the Year. I expected most of this, of course.

My patience for “industry” had been ground down over years of interacting with it via community radio, FACTOR juries, music playing and music writing. Too often it seems that the bands and artists being rewarded and championed are the ones replicating something else, somewhere else that’s making money but losing out on innovation. As a local musician noted to me over the weekend (in relation to Canadian Content regulations), Canada should be celebrating what we do well instead of trying to shoe-horn Canuck artists into all of the genres doing well abroad. (I feel this lesson reverberate in municipal spheres, as Queen City tears down heritage buildings to make room for mediocre glass towers and parking lots, a gross aping of whatever they think a “real” big city looks like). In summary: the Junos pulled the depleted molars from my jaws, leaving my incisors intact for the flesh-rending business of moving forward, free of burden, hungry for something real and bloody.


Cue my front-and-centre stage stance. I hadn’t had a chance to give Shooting Guns’ records a listen but I liked what I’d heard about them: instrumental, psychedelic stoner doom metal played by veterans of the Saskatoon music scene. It made me hungry.

Shooting Guns delivered deeply satisfying heavy riffs, with body-buzzing volume and hypnotic intensity; the kind of enveloping sound that’s best experienced live. Far from industry-friendly, their set felt more refreshing than any of the effervescent pop songs up for Juno awards. (I’m sure that many of the JUNOfest shows ruled equally hard, as you can read about elsewhere on this blog)

I left shortly after the SG set, about a few songs into The Pack A.D.’s rock n roll party. On my way out the door a couple of dudes grabbed and embraced me roughly. Why leave that in this retelling? Because it’s also a part of the music scene, which isn’t always a pretty picture, and also because I’m tired of glossy reviews, whitewashed press releases and buzz bands.


Edit: Thoughnot all Juno nominees are “industry manufactured”, of course, I find a whole lot of them are playing it unappealingly safe.

Author: Amber Goodwyn

Amber Goodwyn is a Montrealer freshly moved to the prairies where she's found a home in journalism at Prairie Dog Magazine. A jack-of-all-trades, she hopes to master some (hell, any) of the following before she expires: writing, music making, filmmaking, DJing, Werewolves.

4 thoughts on “I Have No Love For The Junos”

  1. Me thinks polished music for the masses has been popular since Orghk managed to minimize his grunting and belt out some smooth howls to the ever-multiplying cave groupies. Rhpk kept it in true beast mode, but only a few hipster clubbers remained loyal to his animalistic stylings.

  2. I went to the Junos and sat sorta near a bunch of industry types and definitely got a dirty feeling from it, but at the end of the day, I appreciated the fact that I got exposed to some good stuff over the weekend, like the Strumbellas, whose tunes now play on repeat in my head. So whatever, I put up with Marianas Trench.

    That said, if I was in the thick of the industry stuff for the whole weekend, I’d probably be cranky.

  3. Thanks for this. Business is risk averse and very often has no taste. This results in decisions being made about complex human scenarios by algorithms. These algorithms are built to measure sales and popularity etc.etc. They can’t measure the intangible human qualities that are essential for innovation. I am tired of glossy reviews and people fist pumping generic cover bands as well. I don’t think we have to accept that this is just how things are.

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