Friday, June 13, 2008

NxNE'ing (Thursday).

I'm in the thick of North by Northeast this week(end). I finished up my conference paper yesterday then celebrated by starting things on early with an in-store performance by Two Hours Traffic at Sonic Boom. What a cute bunch they are! Four young guys from PEI who play upbeat, folky indie pop. Right up my alley. Mike was there, too.Next up for me was The Boat, to catch The Unsparing Sea, a Cleveland band who had never played Toronto before. They were wacky . . . in a good way. There was an electric cello, a saw (a serious instrument in this band), a trumpet player/percussionist who had cymbals and an extremely large "stop" sign, and then the regular stuff. Neat. The saw player (?) got up during one of the songs and tapped dance for us in the crowd. I didn't totally get it, but it was fun.After their set I grabbed a bite to eat at Big Fat Burrito, then went back to the Boat to hear most of Summerlad's set. These seasoned rockers (as KH put it) are in Toronto from Calgary, and I must admit that it was Aaron's guitar/bass combo instrument that first caught by attention. I just had to go up front to listen and look. Check it out! They played largely instrumental, somewhat experimental rock, but with some catchy tunes thrown in the mix. Seem like they probably have a following, but didn't draw a bit crowd for this set. And, yeah, the lights at the Boat at red, and only red. Hence the photos.The 10 o'clock spot at the Boat was taken up by a Regina band called Rah Rah. They didn't completely rah rah me (sorry) but I liked them. My guess is that they draw bigger crowds in Saskatchewan. They had a good sound and looked the part of indie musicians.The highlight of the night for me---and the reason I'd decided to stake out the Boat early in the evening---was the Rural Alberta Advantage. I love this group, and their new album, "Hometowns," is all kinds of fantastic. I can listen to it on repeat over and over again. They are such a great band to watch live, too. The Boat was packed for their set, and some of my friends had to line up for a long time to make it in. It was nice to see them again. (I think funky monitors were making the drummer a bit cranky. Maybe.) And this is what happens when I use my flash.I didn't stay at the Boat for the midnight slot. I've seen Modernboys Moderngirls before, and enjoyed them, but wanted to see Great Bloomers again. They were just up the street, at Supermarket, so it was no problem getting there in time. Early, in fact. Frank did the same trip up the street, and Bob and other people I knew were already there. (I'd just missed an amazing performance by Amos the Transparent, I was told. Drat!) Great Bloomers are a solid band with good songs in the style that I like: folk-tinged indie pop rock. Here's a shot of 3/5 of the band.
My seventh and last band of Thursday (now Friday) was a group from Ireland, Angel Pier. They drew in people from the now disparate crowd at Supermarket during their set, but I was too tired to pay full attention. Too many bands, and too much chatting with people in between and during sets. They were good---I can tell you that much---and had matching white tape of their shirts. Well, not the drummer. The other three. See?I'm off to a NxNE-related picnic soon, to see more bands. I hope to take a bit of a break later this afternoon before hitting up a bunch more shows. Let's hope it doesn't rain. That would suck.


Anonymous said...

Nice chatting with you at Sonic Boom. I went to C'est What at 9 pm to see Olenka and The Autumn Lovers(thumbs up!) then trekked back westward(walked up to queen from front st. and then took streetcar to spadina) - I considered heading up to The Boat to see Ra Rah and RAA but it was already after 10 pm and I decided to pop in to the Horseshoe to see The Wet Secrets(and then ended up staying to see Small Sins and Money Mark). Ended the evening see These New Puritans at the Reverb. Busy night, but at least it didn't rain.

Unknown said...

I work with Angel Pier and thanks for the comments about the show. I hope you took the time to check out the tracks from a relatively unknown band to Toronto.

They did play a solid set in my opinion but I guess fatigue for peeps at 1am made it hard to enjoy them.

I disagree with desperate crowd though. There were about 60 people or so hangin out and I think it says something when most of the bands that played are hangin out for the last band...respect and worth the last call.

Anyway let me know if you want some cds of their first and second Ep for review.

Great blog.
PS Not white tape on shirt but screened X but you will see if you go to myspace site.

historyjen said...

Yeah, it's true about the crowd... the entire place wasn't super(market) busy, but the people who were there were made to pay attention to the band! A good sign. And true too about the musicians who had played earlier that night---many of them stuck around. One of the Amos guys even bought a t-shirt :-).
I don't do CD reviews on this site, but thanks so much for the offer!
Hope the trip to Toronto was a good one.