Thursday, June 16, 2011
Day 2 of NXNE started off at the Audio Blood Rooftop for an invite-only party. There was free beer, courtesy of St-Ambroise, and free Vitamin Water. Those Audio Blood folks sure know how to throw a party!
First up was Library Voices, who brought out their delightful power pop in the daytime following a packed showcase over at The Rivoli the night before. Their bright and sunny sounds made for a perfect start to the day on the sweltering hot rooftop. While it was still early and guests were still arriving throughout the set, Library Voices still delivered their set with a great deal of energy. The highlight was, of course, their set closer “Step Off the Map and Float” from their debut EP. Currently the band is showcasing their “Generation Handclap” single and prepping their audiences for their forthcoming album.
With her beautiful songwriting highlighted by her unique and striking vocals, Charlotte Cornfield took the makeshift stage on the roof next. Cornfield’s stage presence is just so comfortable, likely due to her multitudes of experience with other bands. It was a lovely moment when Cornfield and crowd sand “Happy Birthday” to her mother. Cornfield is set to release her debut full-length Two Horses, so there’s lots more Charlotte to look forward to.
I decided to hit up another rooftop party – this time hosted by The Untold City, one of our favourites in Toronto-based photo/video sites. The party was dubbed as “Grilled Cheese Sunburn” and, true to the name, grilled cheese sandwiches were served and sunburns were acquired.
We were only able to catch Toronto’s Foxes in Fiction whose one-man shoegaze show is truly impressive to witness. Warren Hildebrand operates under the Foxes in Fiction moniker. It was so lovely to hear Hildebrand’s dreamy experimental music while under the hot sun. He has an unassuming stage presence, but he possesses a great deal of talent and skill. He frequently shares his recordings on his website/blog, so we suggest you keep up with this fella.
For more outdoor NXNE goodness, we caught a few sets over at Yonge-Dundas Square.
METZ took the stage first. This band was on our radar after their Negative Space/Automat 7” was release in August 2010, but we hadn’t had a chance to see them until this point. Perhaps it wasn’t in the most ideal setting, as it’s hard for a crowd to be so into a show on such a big stage this early in the evening. Regardless, this Toronto band delivered their quick, heavy-hitting experiment punk and grunge and had those who made it out early completely into it.
Rusty took the stage next for a bit of a throwback into the world of 90s alternative rock. Much of the set and nostalgia was lost on me, with the exception of set closer “Misogyny,” but the crowd was quite into it and the energy from the band was still quite fascinating to watch. Even considering some of the lyrics had been forgotten, Rusty’s set was a great addition to the night.
Fucked Up was certainly a highlight of the night, though I’ve been told it was nothing in comparison to their Wrongbar set later that night. Just before starting their set, frontman Damian Abraham brought his son out on his shoulders to have a look at the crowd. Then Fucked Up launched into an extremely fun set, with Abraham over the barricade and in the crowd. People were crowd surfing, including Abraham himself, and those at the front were able to receive personal thank yous and high fives from Abraham for making it out to their set. SO. MUCH. FUN.
After Yonge-Dundas Square, Rachel and I parted ways and did a little venue hopping.
The Luyas – 9:00PM @ The Horseshoe Tavern
I headed over to the Horseshoe to catch Montreal’s The Luyas. Jessie Stein (vocals, guitar, moodswinger) asked for the venue to be in complete darkness so that their lightbulbs on stage could do all the work. There is something warm and hypnotizing with The Luyas. It’s no doubt that their tight musicianship and unique instrumentation is a part of the hypnotic feel, considering members are also a part of other notable musical projects (Miracle Fortress, Bell Orchestre). The title track from their newly announced Polaris Prize long listed Too Beautiful To Work was a clear highlight of the set.
Cavaliers! – 9:00PM @ The Boat
Parks & Rec – 11:00PM @ Rancho Relaxo
Bravestation – 1:00AM @ The Boat
My next stop was the CBC Radio 2 showcase over at The Rivoli.
Bobby Bazini may be considered to fall into the “pop” genre, but there is a soulfulness that elevates him to another level. I didn’t catch the whole set, but I was instantly captivated by his soulful voice. With comparisons to Paulo Nutini, Bazini works the stage with a humble, grateful swagger. Plus that French accent is incredibly endearing.
Winnipeg’s Imaginary Cities took the stage next. They learned earlier that day that Temporary Resident made the Polaris Prize long list and Marti Sarbit (vocals) was glowing. While looking out into the packed Rivoli, adding to the glow, Sarbit exclaimed, “What a great day!” Sarbit, who spends a large portion of the set showing off her dance moves, has a unique and powerful voice. She takes the lead on vocals and makes a great combo with Rusty Matyas up front. A highlight of their set happened to be their cover of Cake’s “Mexico.” Overall, their set was smile-inducing, clearly showing they deserved the Polaris nod.
Local pop darlings Sweet Thing carry an undeniable stage presence, which certainly can be attributed to the actors in the bunch. Although frontman Owen Carrier was nursing a broken toe from rock climbing the day before, his dance moves on stage would have you believe otherwise. His bandmates teased him about the whole ordeal, filling their stage banter with humour. With stellar harmonies and upbeat tunes that got the crowd dancing, Sweet Thing’s set was just too much fun!
Bruce Peninsula closed out the CBC Radio 2 showcase. This was their first show in 7 months, following Neil Haverty’s news that he was diagnosed with Leukemia. Haverty expressed to the crowd how glad he was to be back and vowed to not disappear for a period that long ever again. Although founding member Misha Bower was not present, as she’s currently touring with Daniel Romano, the harmonies from the row of ladies, comprised of Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station), Daniela Gesundheit (Snowblink), Ivy Mairi and Kari Peddle, were undeniably captivating. It was such a treat to catch this performance, as it was filled with so much heart after being absent from the stage for so long.
To close out the night, I headed to the Silver Dollar for the NeXT showcase.
Sports filled the Silver Dollar with their psychedelic garage-esque tunes. The band is comprised of Nathan Rekker (vocals, guitar), Mike Small (bass), Pete Carmichael (guitar, vocals) and Shayne Cox (drums). Their set still carried a lot of energy, which was impressive considering it started at 2am. With pop sensibilities alongside fuzzy guitars, I was quite impressed with the musicianship on stage. The band has actually just released their debut album, which you can pick up from their Bandcamp on a PWYC basis. I highly recommend you do so.
Sandman Viper Command took the stage at 3am. I assumed the crowd would be pretty scarce at this point, but instead the guys filled the place pretty nicely, including some notable friends in the audience (Dinosaur Bones, Hollerado). The band showcased some of their latest recordings from their Rough Love 7” and even threw in a cover to close out their set, which was part of an encore the crowd yelled for. The (drunken) friends and fans right up front were singing along the whole time and rocking out to SVC’s grooves, making it seems like the night was still early. I can’t think of a better way to have ended my night.