NXNE: Friday

Another night. More music.

I reflected last night on how my experience at NXNE has changed over the past three years. I started writing as someone who knew little about the local music community. I went blindly to shows—taking in whatever options were put in front of me. My strategy has slowly changed as I have become more familiar with what’s happening in local music. There are bands that I have seen develop over the past few years and it has been neat this week to have a chance to see how their trajectory has continued.

That said, my first band of the night, The Breezes, was unfamiliar. The 8pm slot was unfortunate for this band from Montreal—Rancho was almost empty when the band took the stage. I am willing to assume that the lack of energy in the room contributed to the band’s lack-luster performance. Apparently they are very successful back home. However, their music—a sort of pop-rock, sometimes atmospheric and noisy mixture—didn’t leave a lasting impression.

The Breezes, along with a very excited Spock

Next I zipped over to Sneaky Dee’s to check out Enjoy Your Pumas from Winnipeg Manitoba. I felt as though this band has not quite gelled into their full potential. By moments they were quieter and soft; other moments they were a little heavier; all of the time they were overlaid with the sweet vocals of their female singer. Again, I liked all of the elements offered by Enjoy Your Pumas, but when they were all put together something didn’t quite work.

Enjoy Your Pumas at Sneak's

I was really excited to make it over to the El Mocambo to see Language-Arts. I have seen this band play numerous times over the past few years. I love them: their particular brand of quirky, unique folk-rock is not easily compared to anything else I have ever heard. The swift-tripping lyrics of the singer are matched with upright bass, drums and keys. I was pleased to hear both classic songs like “White Socks in Birkenstocks” and several brand new tunes. The band has picked up a little more rock in their new material. The lead singer put down her classical guitar and picked up and electric for half the show—quite a departure. I like the new material, which doesn’t depend as much on the nimble fingerpicking of the lead singer, but was still happy that they returned to a classic song, “Tuck it In” for their conclusion.

Language-Arts visited by an angel

Finally I caught a little bit of Ian La Rue & the Heartbeat City. It was nice to check out the atmosphere at Bread and Circus, which is usually the site of the softer side of NXNE. This year is no change and Ian La Rue offered a nice folksy set.

Ian La Rue & the Heartbeat City

Tonight! Chad Vangaalen and Braids! I predict it will be the highlight of the festival.

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