Every year it starts the same, with my “I can’t believe it’s NXNE again already!” post. But seriously guys, CMW feels like it was a week or two ago. I may not have been completely ready for NXNE last night, but it certainly was ready for me. Armed with my usual ease-into-the-festival-at-Rancho schedule, I was off.
Young Contrarians @ Rancho Relaxo – The Young Contrarians are a band that a lot of people probably haven’t seen around lately. It has been a while since they last performed at Rancho — or in Toronto for that mater. Their set was a solid way to open the festival, and they played well — especially considering how long it has been since they all shared a stage together. I didn’t love every song, but they got the crowd settled in for the rest of the evening with their indie-pop tunes that had a definite synth edge to them.
Broken Bricks @ Rancho Relaxo – Garage rock is everywhere these days, and there are no shortage of bands who play punked up garage with retro elements thrown in for good measure. Broken Bricks are one of those bands. They actually sounded a little bit like if The Dress Whites were a lot heavier and had more of a punk influence. Some of their songs rocked pretty hard and fast, and some of them had “ooh-ooh” and “doo-wop” back up vocals. One of them (“Jigsaw” I believe), landed a bit too far on the wrong side of cheeseball for my tastes, but they were nothing if not sincere. They did just enough of their own thing to avoid staleness, and the songs that worked, worked fairly well.
Girl + The Machine @ Rancho Relaxo – BlogTO had listed this set on their NXNE preview, so I was excited to see what kind of band they’d be. I struggle to avoid using the word “pretentious” because I hate calling bands that, but I will say they seemed like they were trying very hard to be arty. I like arty, but this wasn’t doing it for me. Their samples of drums and other instruments they were performing over sounded more like something I would have enjoyed. If they were a full band I probably could have gotten on board, but as it was they were just fooling around with keyboards and effects in uninteresting and unfortunately boring ways.
Red Mass @ The Horseshoe Tavern – I’ll take this opportunity to say: how awesome was the weather last night? Perfect NXNE temperature. Anyway this was another set I didn’t know much about. Dan told me they were from Montreal and had a Garage rock sound. I was surprised a bit by their set, much like Broken Bricks they were a pretty cool band who added just enough of their own style and snotty attitude to the basic garage/punk format. Red Mass were a lot faster than Broken Bricks and had moments of psych influence which I appreciated. Again, not mind-blowing but it was a fun set. They’d play well with Broken Bricks on a bill for sure.
The Job (Reunion Show) @ The Bovine Sex Club – Now this was my most anticipated show of the evening. I’ve been a pretty big fan of The Job since I saw them at Rancho a while back, so it saddened me when I heard that they broke up. The Job came back together for one set at NXNE this year though, and they came back in full form. Their raucous and entertaining live show was in full form, and it culminated with disco balls thrown into the crowd, guitars smashed against the wall, and beers poured everywhere. There was even a crowd member who pulled a “That Guy”. If you weren’t there to see The Job blend all styles of punk and pop together perfectly, you missed out on what might be one of the best NXNE shows this year. Toronto will miss The Job, they were one of the best bands in Toronto as far as I’m concerned.
And that’s it! I’m seeing some really exciting stuff tonight — like The Descendents. Holy shit guys I’m seeing the fucking Descendents!! High School Dan Gorman is freaking. out. Watch for my fan-boy fueled write up tomorrow!