The return of MuchMusic’s The Wedge

HAMILTON, Ont. (CUP) — When it comes to finding new tunes, MuchMusic isn’t one of the first choices for an even half-educated Canadian music aficionado.

Hell, by the time I was 13 I realized this. There was something about it that just didn’t jive with the whole Sid Vicious wannabe vibe I was going for at the time.

In my preteen years, though, I’ll admit I spent hours with my eyes glued to the countdown and video flow. Those were the days when teen stars stripped down, wearing next to nothing and singing unabashed anthems dedicated to the pleasures of promiscuity.

But as awesome as sex can be, it’s disheartening when a previously semi-respectable music source succumbs to the lure of the corporate dollar and peddles only generic TV sexuality and empty celebrity banter. Over the past decade MuchMusic has become the wannabe younger sibling of North America’s shittiest television channel, MTV.

But don’t run yet, this isn’t entirely another angry student rant condemning the sorry state of the music industry in 2011. Instead, to the certain disbelief of many, I’d actually like to defend the reputation of one measly hour of weekly programming that has been floating amid this sea of crap for nearly two decades. Namely I’d like to defend Wednesday night’s weekly update on anything alternative, The Wedge.

The Wedge arose way back in 1992 and was once a Monday to Friday update on the indie-rock revolution that was then just beginning to crack the mainstream. In the mid 1990s, as grunge was rising to the top, falling suddenly and subsequently splintering into one million sub-genres, The Wedge was one of the most popular programs aired on MuchMusic and kept a legion of devotees on the cutting-edge of indie knowledge.

The show was originally hosted by ex-VJ Sook-Yin Lee, an extremely talented media personality who has since worked extensively with the CBC, directed movies, recorded albums and enjoyed a flourishing career in acting.

But when Lee left both The Wedge and MuchMusic in 2001, the once daily update on the behind-the-scenes of the music industry was reduced to a weekly program jammed in late on the Friday night slot. MuchMusic’s new musical agenda was clear and evident.

For the next decade, The Wedge rested comfortably in its late nighttime slot. But without a host, the program served as merely a block of alternative music videos and seemed to lack the coherence and optimism about the indie community that Lee had brought to the show. One was left to wonder why they even aired the show at all.

But after digging in a little bit I managed to find out why. For the past decade, The Wedge has been supported by the extremely active and tight-knit community on LiveJournal. The mass of flannel-cland grunge-rockers went digital and clearly had a hand in influencing MuchMusic’s decision to continue airing the show, despite the lack of host and inconvenient timeslot.

Within the past year, this blossoming online community as well as a growing discontent with the music industry in general must have caught the eye of MuchMusic executives. This culminated in their decision to re-launch The Wedge this past January with a new format and finally a new host. Thankfully, MuchMusic did their research and picked the perfect host, Canada’s punk-rock teddy bear, Damian Abraham.

Now if you’re unfamiliar with the versatile collection of Abraham’s output, do yourself a favour and check this dude out. Abraham, who occasionally goes by the moniker Pink Eyes, has served for the past several years as the front man for Fucked Up, Canada’s greatest contribution to the global punk community. Fucked Up received the 2009 Polaris Prize and the group has been argued as single-handedly carrying the entire genre of true bone-breaking hardcore punk on their backs, do-it-yourself ethic and all.

Outside the band, Abraham has become known in the music community as an outspoken supporter of almost anything artistic. His appearance on several music panels as well as his frequent appearances on CBC Radio have certainly helped to raise the credentials of his media persona.

Abraham’s impressive resume has helped to plug life support into the program and he has begun recapturing the glory days of The Wedge. The show now boasts an expanded format, featuring interviews, indie updates, live performances and, of course, the best alternative videos.

Stay tuned for weekly episode of The Wedge, airing Wednesday at 10 p.m.


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