NXNE Thursday: Olenka and The Autumn Lovers, Rock Plaza Central and more

This festival feels like a truck that’s revving up and getting ready to run me over. In a good way. Though,  I really regret giving up coffee this morning and I didn’t even stay out nearly as late as the rest of the TWM team.

I spent most of my night in the Gladstone Ballroom at the NXEW NXNE showcase. Yep, that’s what it was called. The show was curated by North by East West, which is is a fantastic group blog  filled with content from music lovers all across Canada. The last partner mixed into this indie-rock love fest was CBC Radio– the evening was hosted by Craig Norris. I arrived bright and early for the show, literally bright since it’s still full daylight at 8pm.

The night started with Volcanoless in Canada,  a group of fellas from Saskatoon. This band sounded like something my little sister would like, emo rock played mainly on acoustic guitars. It reminded me of Fall Out Boy, except better. Much better. It wasn’t entirely my thing, but

The Mountains & the Trees is a lovely gentleman from St. John’s Newfoundland.  His music wasn’t exptionally complicated or showy, just simple melodic folk that was backed by a female vocalist. The success of his music was his personality: earnest, caring, thoughtful and very Canadian, in a Bruce Cockburn kind of way. He is a story-teller whose music will ripen as he gains more life experience.

The real reason that I went to this showcase was to see two of my favourite Canadian bands. The first was Olenka and the Autumn Lovers from London, who in my opinion keep getting better. They were out in full force, with seven musicians on the stage. The instruments ranged from saxaphone, to cello to electric guitar. The magic is that Olenka manages to combine all of their elements without anything seemeing out of place. I love how much edge this  band has now– even taking moments to full-on rock out with an electric guitar solo. Their new songs (most of the set seemed to be newer songs) make use of the full band in a way their last album did not. However, they still paused during their set to play a song with only the girl’s voices, accoustic guitar, violin and cello, which showcased their softer side.  I went to the bank machiene to get cash to buy their new album, but alas, there is no new album! Come on Olenka and the Autumn Lovers! Your new stuff is light years away from the last album. I want a new album!

The last full set of the evening for me was Toronto’s Rock Plaza Central. I promised myself that I would try not to sounds like a fangirl when I wrote this portion of my blog post, but lets be honest, I’m already pretty fond of RPC, pretty darn fond. RPC are no longer touring, just playing occastional festivals, so it was great to have an opportunity to catch them. It’s hard to describe a RPC show: they play folk music, with a rotating cast of instruments including brass, percussion, banjo, guitars, etc. (my friend Bruce said it’s like they just bring a pile of instruments  and take turns picking them out).  Last night the band didn’t have their violinist, but they did have 3, sometimes 4 electric guitars. Their music already is dark by moments, however, the dark, heavy elements of the band were really amplified by the wall of electric guitars.  It felt like RPC were bursting at the seams with musical energy  last night, always managing to hold it together, anchored by the unique vocals of Chris Eaton. RPC is a band that always makes me feel and that’s why I love them.

Tonight I am looking forward to another night of music. The fantastic Whale Tooth at 12 pm at the Rivoli. A sweet after hours line-up at Rancho. I love festivals!

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