The big winner of this week’s Junos didn’t make the trip to Edmonton to bask in the glory. The Weeknd won five awards, but he was one of the notable artists who wasn’t able to make the awards Saturday and Monday — or any of the parties that you could find at music venues across the city during Juno week.
(Michael Bublé was on tour in Scandinavia, and couldn’t make the Junos, either.)
The Junos’ broadcast event on Monday was streamlined; outside of Nickelback’s induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, topless stage crashers and Avril Lavigne’s F-bombs, only five awards were handed out. The majority of the awards were given out Saturday at the Edmonton Convention Centre. We were in the media bunkers for both of those nights. We were also at some of the parties in between. (And that’s what the Junos were really about, all of the bands that played in the city over the last week.)
But, here’s a look back on some of the highlights of the weekend without The Weeknd.
Press Conference of the Week: The Arkells. The band played a corporate gig in St. John’s, N.L, Friday night, and didn’t get off the stage till past midnight. Then, snow cancelled pretty much all the flights off the island, save for one. There weren’t enough tickets available for the entire band, so two members were left behind. Three Arkells made it to the Juno party Saturday (when most of the awards were handed out) on very little sleep. Arkell Max Kerman noted that the bandmates left behind were “wasted on George Street right now.” And how was the marathon series of flights to get from St. John’s to Edmonton? “You don’t want to talk to anyone at that hour, and then you see every fucking person in the music industry on your flight,” Kerman joked. And, did the band ever consider NOT showing up at Junos? “I think it’s important to show support,” Kerman said. “We know the people personally who put on this event… One of the reasons people vote for us, is they know what fucking try-hards we are.”
Nickelback Bits: Frontman Chad Kroeger, on what his younger self would say if met his current self. “Nice frosted tips there, douche.” And he said that, growing up in Hanna, the band members got very little in terms of musical influences. It was all about what tapes were being sold at the local corner store. And, that was a lot of Tragically Hip tapes. “When we were in a cover band, we played 14 Hip songs a night.”
Elephant in the Room: Yes, it’s a Canadian national sport to revile Nickelback. And Kroeger, fresh off being sent to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame went off about it. “We have been the whipping boys of the music industry for way too long. It’s nice to see that change. We don’t kill puppies.”
He Wasn’t Done: On suffering so much hate for 15 years of the band’s career. “What’s it like?It fucking sucks. What’s it like to win this award tonight? Fucking redemption.”
Advice of the Week: From Jon Dore, who won for best comedy recording: “Don’t take advice from anyone. Advice can stifle creativity!”
Fashion critique: Dore wore a Hawaiian shirt to the Junos, but, being a comedian in a room full of musicians, he noticed something: “People confidently wear hats at music awards — hats that I would normally not see.”
Party of the Week: The Sheepdogs’ Sunday night shindig was the it event of the weekend. The invite-only party featured a night of roots and rock music at The Freemasons’ Hall, and there was a midnight barbecue, to boot. The rules were pretty plain at this one: no photos allowed. But, you’ll just have to take our word for it that there were a lot of winners and nominees who were there — and this one ended up being the party that led to a lot of Monday morning regrets.
Artist That Made Me Go “Wow”: Mariel Buckley, whose haunting melodies mix with country twang in a way that’s truly mesmerizing. She played at the Birthday Cake Records party Sunday night at 9910.
Artist Who Best Described Their Music: Banx & Ranx won the Breakthrough Group of the Year award. Zacharie Raymond, also known as “Soké,” was asked to describe the duo’s mix of Caribbean sounds and dance music. “We’re like this old burned CD you have in your car.”
Well, Take Us With You: Alexisonfire’s George Pettit on how the reunited bandmates reignited their chemistry after being apart for more than a decade (the band won rock recording of the year). “When you perform, you perform. You go to the other place.”
Press Play: Teen Daze is the stage name of Jamison Izaak, who won the Juno for Electronic Album of the Year. He was asked why he put out his album not only on vinyl, but on cassette. “My record player broke at some point during the pandemic, and I started buying tapes.”
Reality Check: The Brothers Landreth won for Best Contemporary Roots album, and they noted how much the Canadian music scene has changed because of the pandemic. Joey Landreth said the days of living in van are kind of done. The marathon tours are thing of the past. “The 300 days a year, those days are long gone. The pandemic showed us that time at home is good for the soul.”
Heartbreak Moment: The Sadies won for Adult Alternative Album, just a little more than a year after singer Dallas Good passed away at the age of 48. Travis Good, Dallas’s brother, admitted how tough it was to be at the awards. “When they called our name, I thought I was going to start crying. I was overwhelmingly sad.”
She Loved It: Allie Bearhead, one third of the Indigenous group The Bearhead Sisters, was asked what she thought of Jully Black’s move to change the lyrics of “O Canada” at the NBA All-Star Game. (Black sang “our home on native land”). “I thought it was very powerful — her saying ‘this is native land,” said Bearhead. “It’s an honour, it’s beautiful”
The Hard Truth About Media Scrums: Alexisonfire guitarist Wade MacNeil on what it was like to play on the stage at Rogers Place, and then go up to the seventh floor to do a media press conference. “It’s kinda like when hockey players get interviewed when they get off the ice and they all say the same thing.”
Perspective: Nineteen years ago, Edmonton hosted the Junos. Tenille Townes made the trek from Grande Prairie to Edmonton to sit in the nosebleeds. On Monday, the winner of the Country Album of the Year played on the stage at Rogers Place. While the arenas have changed, she said she thought about how far she’s come.”This is for everyone who is sitting up there tonight.”
We Couldn’t Say it Any Better: “Go out and find a local band. Support them. Make them your favourite band.” — George Pettit, Alexisonfire
Understatement of the Junos: “That’s definitely going down as one the of the highlights.” Avril Lavigne on dropping F-bombs on a topless stage-crasher.
Simu Says: Host Simu Liu ended the show with a backflip, but when asked about it, he changed the topic back to the hot topic of the evening. “I planned the backflip, I didn’t plan the boobs… It was just the most Canadian way ever that she was slowly escorted off the stage — which was a little more than she deserved.”