Wednesday, June 18, 2008

NXNE'ing (Saturday).

It being Wednesday now and all, I guess it's time to finish my NxNE recap. What a festival it was! I know there were some issues and all of that, but for me, it was a great time, and I'm really glad to have been a part of it. I was tired Saturday when I woke up, and it took me a while to get going. But by mid afternoon I was antsy, hoping for lots more great shows. First up, the 4pm slot at Sonic Boom. I purposely missed Monotonix's performance (at 3pm), figuring I didn't want to find myself part of something unpleasant. (I try not to be a grump about rock 'n roll antics, but I am a small woman who does not want to be manhandled or whatever. I'd heard stuff about their show earlier during the fest.) I arrived in time to hear all about from friends of mine, and, well, although I certainly missed one heck of a show, I am not sorry about it! Read all about it elsewhere. And see David's pic of the drummer with a garbage can on his head. Yeah.

A band from Chicago was on next. They were displeased to follow Monotonix, but made the best of it, putting on a good show. I wouldn't have minded seeing them perform later that night, but my schedule was already jam-packed with awesome, so they didn't make the cut. Seemed like nice guys, though. They were called Mannequin Men, and---perhaps because they'd just witnessed some insanity---the singer was jumping around on the drum kit. It wasn't totally out of place, but perhaps unexpected for an in-store performance. I appreciated the intensity.After them, I biked back home for a bit, called a friend, and we decided to both go see Julie Doiron and Fred Squire at Sonic Boom. Their in-store was a near last-minute addition to the lineup that day, but despite the late notice, there was a good-sized audience in the basement of the record store to check them out. They played a few songs with Julie singing and playing guitar, and then switched to some Calm Down It's Monday tracks with Julie on drums. The set was fun, relaxed, inspiring, and totally unpretentious. Just lovely. Many of us were sitting on the floor. I especially liked how she was so apologetic for having written and then performing for us a "catchy" pop song. It was totally cute, and I liked the song to boot.It was approaching 7pm by this point, and dinner was in order . . . Chippy's! KH and I chowed down, and then walked to Little Italy (for the street fest happening there) to get some oysters from BC, who was working the Oyster Boy tent. I had never eaten those before. Now I have. Weird, but good. KH went off to do non-NxNE stuff, and I ran into Neutral in time to catch the first song by the Miles, a young band from Toronto I'd seen before. And, wow! They blew me away. Such talent, such youth, and what a great sound. At 9pm, there wasn't a large group of people watching (or dancing), which really is a shame. These kids play semi-regularly, but they deserved a much large audience that night. I'm sure they'll get one one day soon. I hope they go places. Good energy in their live shows and great creativity to their compositions. I was all kinds of happy to have gone see them.The 10pm slot. Well, this was was a given for me: the Horseshoe to see Spiral Beach! Alas, I wasn't the only one to have this in mind. I laugh at myself now for thinking I'd have any chance of getting in. It wasn't worth the wait, so after having biked down to the Horseshoe, locked up my bike, checking out the line, running into some friends on the crowded corner, I ran back to my bike, grabbed a NOW magazine---I didn't have anything else marked down for 10!---made a quick decision, and was at the Silver Dollar before Adam & the Amethysts hit the stage. This Montreal (by way of Thunder Bay, I think, for Adam) shares three members (out of four) with Miracle Fortress, a band I enjoy on record and (a bit less so) live. Having not done any research on the band, I had no idea until I got there. They were nice, and were playing their first show ever that night to what seemed like a room-full of friends and other well-wishers. The songs were on the good side of okay, and the vibe in the venue and on stage was positive and fun. I was in the mood for harder, dancier stuff, though. And, the set was shorter than I expected; even with an encore---a lovely solo number by Adam---it clocked in at less than 30 minutes. I don't know why. No matter: on to the next venue!
For me, this was the Bovine. Earlier that day, KH told me that Clothes Make the Man may be his favourite Toronto band. Coming from a man who's seen hundreds of local bands, well, there was little chance of me not making a concerted (ha!) effort to check these guys out. The place was pretty full when I arrived---a good sign!---and as I waited for 11pm to roll around, I realized that the guy standing behind me was someone I'd met a few hours earlier at Sonic Boom. He was stoked to see CMTM too. Another good sign. The last good sign? The singer was wearing a t-shirt that said "HISTORY"! Dude. I was sold even before they started playing. And the music was awesome! I had a rocking good time, dancing as best I could jammed up again the stage and side railing. I will totally see them again. While playing one of their slower songs, the drummer broke the kick drum. It took a few minutes to get it patched up, but thank goodness no longer. Fun. The new songs they played were my favourites of the set. I'm looking forward to their new album.
The friend (standing behind me) was going to stay at the Bovine for the midnight set. I had no definite plans---attempt to get in to see Monotonix at Sneaks? I don't think so---so, heck, I stayed too. A group from Austin came on. They were odd, but mostly in the good way. I didn't really get it, but I certainly enjoyed myself while I pondered the costume(s) and the wacky combination of musical styles going on in front of me (to the right and a couple feet higher). Muchos Backflips! were kinda like jazzy, psychedelic metal, with a bit of hip hop thrown in on occasion. Some people really got into it; others, not so much. They certainly made an impression, though. Hope they had a good time in Toronto.Thus we approach 1am. My friends Tin Bangs were set to play at Kathedral, almost right across the street from where I was. I've seen them a bunch of times and love them a lot. But I was thinking seriously about checking out a band I had yet to see, namely, We Are Wolves, whose music I like and whose performance earlier in the week I'd heard really good things about. I made a choice and biked up to the El Mocambo to see if I could get in to see them. But there were a bunch of people outside---milling about, maybe---and I didn't want to risk having to wait in line. So back to Queen & Bathurst I went, parked my bike once again, and ran in to Kathedral at 1:03am, as Tin Bangs was playing song one. I immediately knew I had come to the right place. What was I thinking? Tin Bangs rules! I just love their brand of post-punk Britpop, or whatever the critics call it. It makes me dance like mad and whoop at the stage and generally act like a fool. Awesome. They were great, and the crowd got into it so that by the end of their set I was definitely not the only crazy dancing fool in the room. The friend I'd seen at the Bovine had come to check the band out on my suggestion, and he too was impressed. Yay! (The pic doesn't show the drummer Robbie's tight pink jeans. I covet those.)The two of us hung around and chatted with Robbie for a bit as the band cleared up. When we got kicked out of the venue, I headed off to the Silver Dollar. One of the "it" bands of the festival---according to some people---was playing, and I liked them just fine, for the three songs I heard had me moving. Some of my friends who were there for their whole set were less than impressed. But maybe it was all the hype that hurt them. The band (Oholics, from Sweden) seemed fun, if not the next big thing.
I hadn't come for them, though. The Schomberg Fair had the 3am slot to close the festival. Two-thirds of the band members were drinking large coffees at 2:30am, and come time to perform they were wide awake and ready to get the place jumping. And jump we did. And stomp. And hoot and holler, and generally have a grand ol' time. The Fair plays music I wouldn't necessarily play at home, but heck they put on a good show and they work damn hard to do so. The crowd thinned a bit after the Swedes left the stage, but I didn't notice anyone leave once the Schomberg boys started up. I bet the bar did a pretty good busy in the wee hours that day.NxNE. Ah. What a wild few days for me, and for this city. Thank you, everyone. Until next year.


Quadb said...

Great coverage Jen. I'm glad you checked out Clothes Make The Man. Ryan's voice slays me! And it's too bad you missed Spiral Beach, tons o fun!

Don't feel bad about missing God Made Me Funky though. I mean I loved it, but it may have just been something in the air or something, because in the light of day, their music doesn't do anything for me at all.

jordy! said...

so am i your bovine friend or your sonic boom friend? either way, nice summary of saturday.


historyjen said...

jordy: "I arrived in time to hear all about from friends of mine"; and then again at the Bovine and Kathedral. Does appearance in my blog make you famous?

bob: just realized I'm gonna miss Spiral Beach again tonight! crap.

jordy! said...