I won’t lie about it, NXNE really snuck up on me this year. It was like I had turned around for one second, when all of a sudden NXNE was upon us. I’m running on a little less than three hours sleep and some coffee, so let’s take a look at how I spent my Thursday night, shall we? I have some video as well that should be up later on in the day, when I get home from work.
Old World Vulture at Rancho Relaxo
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I grew very tired of the post rock explosion pretty quickly. Everywhere I looked there was another band playing moody-yet-dreary instrumental rock that sounded exactly like the genres heavy-hitters (Do Make Say Think, Godspeed, Explosions in the Sky, etc). As much as I like those bands, I just got burnt out on the style. That said, Old World Vulture are making post-rock exciting again. Their music melds so many different styles together, and it all fits so well it’s almost criminal. They’ll jump from delay-drenched guitar lines and electronic beats washed in floaty synth lines to a blast of drums and guitar crunch that wouldn’t be completely out of place in the 90’s indie rock scene. These guys have a lot of influences tossed into their bag of tricks, and that’s exactly why they make this kind of music fresh and exciting again.
Final Flash at the El Mocambo
Have you ever had that festival experience where you’re checking a band out, and you have this really bad feeling right off the bat that they’re going to suck? You walk in and this band starts playing and it’s some slick arena-rock version of a cool style of music– but without any soul. I was sure this would be the case as Final Flash took the stage to an almost empty room last night. But colour me surprised, they played a real solid set of arena-ready garage rock with enough energy and sincerity to win me over. They rocked some pretty cool mini-jam sections of their songs as well, and had me nodding along the whole time.
Seedy Seeds at Rancho Relaxo
A quick walk back to Rancho and I was ready to see Seedy Seeds. I didn’t know anything about them pre-show so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Basically they played really giddy and upbeat indie-pop-rock with a banjo, acoustic guitar and beats. They also had a really awesome drummer, who had rope-lights hooked up to some kind of trigger so they lit up as he played. Wait until you see it on video, it was totally cool. I thought they were super fun and catchy, I can’t really pick any songs that stand out off the top of my mind, but their set has piqued my interest to check them out on MySpace and see how they sound on record. I took off a little early so I could get in to Sneaks before a line started forming…
Indian Jewelry at Sneaky Dee’s
Indian Jewelry was another band I didn’t know anything about before I showed up (I was mostly there early for HEALTH). When Indian Jewelry started playing their first three or four songs, I thought they were really, really cool. Their sound was hype-ready drone-dance with dissonant and distorted vocals, backed by various beats and peppered with live tribal-style toms and cymbals. Unfortunately I grew tired of their schtick about halfway through the already pretty short set. It just seemed like they had one kind of song and it got boring after about four of them. I will say that they had an awesome light set up, all the house lights were turned off and two strobe lights were going on stage. You’ll have to check this video out later today because I’m sure it looks completely bad-ass.
HEALTH at Sneaky Dee’s
Speaking of completely bad-ass, HEALTH ripped it up at Sneaky Dee’s last night. The real reason I went last night was to catch a glimpse of their ear-shattering sets that I’ve heard so much about. They played a brutally loud set of danceable apocalyptic noise rock. When DIE SLOW kicked in, the crowd whipped up into a frenzy and just went nuts. One of those shows where I was super happy to have ear-plugs. If you weren’t there then you missed out on one of the most crazy and awesome sets of this years NXNE for sure. I got video of DIE SLOW, so look for that later too!
The Strange Boys at The Silver Dollar
Ever since I missed The Strange Boys play at Rancho Relaxo, with a surprise visit from The Black Lips, I’ve wanted to check them out. I understand now why they come approved by the Black Lips themselves, as they play a comparable style of throwback rock, but with a bit more southern style (they feature the saxophone and harmonica quite a bit) as opposed to the Lips’ hazy psych sound. I thought their more up-beat rockers fared the best last night, and they even debuted a couple new songs for the fans who came out.
Demon’s Claws at Rancho Relaxo
It was bound to happen on a work night, but I took the stool at the back for this one, so I guess I can’t really go into deep details about their set. What I heard of it was fast, wild and raucous. Terri mentioned that there was some beer throwing going on at the front, so I guess the people in attendance were digging them.
After their set I took off, making it home and getting asleep by 3:45 am. For the first night of NXNE, I couldn’t be more pleased with what I saw. I didn’t see anyone that I absolutely hated, all of the music was running on time– if not early– and the weather was warm but not too hot. Here’s hoping the festival continues this way!
Don’t forget to check back later today for those videos, you won’t want to miss some of these!