We've had many different sounds, styles and personalities roll through the TORO Garage over the past year. Music Writer Jesse Skinner and Video Producer / Director Tony Felgueiras take a look back at the most memorable performances of 2012 with our first annual Garage Session Awards. Who had the loudest sound, best beard, catchiest tune? Read on.

Best Beard - BEN CAPLAN

Underneath the burly and bearded exterior that is Ben Caplan lies a masterful craftsman with powerful lyricism. Few men can command attention with just their presence and a guitar, but the moment Ben walks into a room, people notice. When Ben belted the first note with his smoky, ferocious voice on "Seed of Love" we were hooked on every second following. With one of the best beards and deepest, most unique voices we've filmed, Ben Caplan stands out as one of our favourite performances of the year, and one of our most memorable among the 150-plus we've had come through.
- Tony F - Video Producer, Director

Catchiest Tune - BAHAMAS

Making Garage Sessions videos means listening to the same song performed upwards of 10 times in a row, which can make you never want to listen to it again (triple that and you’ll approximate the experience of our editing team.) But something about “Lost in the Light,” from singer-songwriter Bahamas (born Afie Jurvanen), made multiple listens positively essential. It’s meditative “hmm” hook and instantly memorable rhythm earned dozens of subsequent revisits after we had wrapped.
- Jesse Skinner, Music Writer


Nothing is hotter than a woman who can rock. When Toronto's Hill & The Sky Heroes rolled into our studio we knew we were in for a treat with their performance of "Doctor, Doctor." Frontwoman Hill Kourkoutis and guitar shredding TORO favourite Donna Grantis (you might notice her from her performance with Saidah Baba Talibah in 2010) brought the attitude, style, and most memorable hair we've had in our Garage, period. With bad-ass guitar skills and a killer style sense and rock presence, it's no surprise to find Donna rocking a new chapter in her rock career touring with Prince. Prince Garage Session 2013, anyone?
- T.F.

The Loudness Award - INDIAN HANDCRAFTS

We’ve had a few heavy acts in our intimate studio, none as punishingly loud as the duo Indian Handcrafts. While it may not be apparent from the video their sound created an almost physical experience for our crew, who scrambled around for ear plugs and noise-canceling headphones to beat back against the decibel levels. It was worth it, and I don’t believe I was more impressed by a band’s performance this year.
- J.S.

Happiest To Be Here - ENJOY YOUR PUMAS

Reviewing a dozen or so Garage Sessions videos I can safely say none of TORO’s guests seemed as happy to be in the studio as Winnipeg indie rockers Enjoy Your Pumas. On video, they’re all smiles while they perform “Swayze,” even with confrontational lyrics like “Don’t you fuck with me / when I’m on the dance floor.” Who would? 
- J.S.

Best Acoustic Adaptation - ZULU WINTER

The band name alone gets one curious, "what do they sound like?" When we booked Zulu Winter for a session to perform a stripped down version of "We Should Be Swimming" I was curious how it would translate in such an intimate setting. The result was a moodier, more dramatic music experience, allowing the lyrics to drive the tune more than a drum beat or guitar riff.  This result became one of my favourite acoustic performances of the year, adapted from an already great album version of the track. Compare our session to their official music video below. Which do you like best?
- T.F.

For comparison:

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