NXNE. Festival season. Four days of music, friends, and adventure.
I love summer in Toronto.
I started my journey this year with a trip to NXNE headquarters in a fancy hotel on King Street. Wearing summer attire and carrying my schoolbooks, I didn’t feel as though I belonged amongst the music-types. Then, I saw Branko from Dinosaur Bones (I actually remember him better as Serb Superb at Rancho Relxo) doing an interview with Aux TV. The familiar face, coupled with a closer look at the line-up of scraggly media types waiting for their passes made me feel more at home.
Later that evening, I left my German at UofT class a little early in order to make it to Rancho Relaxo in time for the Young Contrarians. They play one-hundred-times-more-fun-and-interesting-than-learning-how-to-read-extended-adjectival-phrases music.
The reunited-only-for-NXNE Young Contrarians were fantastic (I’m finished with the extended adjectival phrases now). They had the energy of a group of friends who are bursting at the seams with joy at the chance to play together again. They play pop music with enough rock thrown-in to be super-high energy. The musicianship of the group was evident—the drumming was particularly fantastic. It was, of course, especially great to see pregnant Megan Hamilton rocking out.
Somehow, it wasn’t too hot in Rancho. Usually I feel as though my skin is going to melt away from my body and the liquid contents of my body are going to evapourate. The next band up was Broken Bricks. They play happy pop rock, with just a touch of musical theatre. There was a decent crowd to see the band and I appreciated the energy that they generated a Wednesday night.
I popped over to the Supermarket to catch a singer-songwriter who goes by the name of Washington (fitting as her last name is indeed, Washington). She has a very strong voice—soulful, rich, I imagine her singing jazz—yet also carrying enough to be at home in the independent music scene. I enjoyed her music. I could imagine her music at home on the soundtrack to a CW show. I left after a couple of songs—I felt as though I had gotten the general idea of what she could do.
Next, at Rancho I caught the end of a set by The Girl + The Machine. I wasn’t a fan of their set. They had a sort of atmospheric, reverb-laden sound and their singer seemed to have a stage persona. I felt like they didn’t carry though enough with the performance aspect of their band. If they were going to be over-the-top it needed to be even larger-than-life (I guess I’m not done with the dash thing). It needed to be a performance. Instead the Girl + The Machine sort of hovered between performance art and regular band playing a show.
Finally, I saw the Love Machine. This band had their shit together—their music was tight. They had that kinda dichotomous “we have a cute nice-guy singer with a clear voice singing over our punk music” thing going on. It wasn’t entirely my thing, but it was well done.
Onwards to Day 2!