NXNE Night #4: Schomberg Fair, Heartbeat Hotel, HONHEEHONHEE and more

Aside from some small stuff going on today, Saturday night was the last big outing for me this year at NXNE. Here’s what I got to see:

Mode Moderne @ Supermarket – I got to Supermarket and a singer/songwriter was still playing almost 10 minutes past 8pm. After his a capella finale Mode Moderne finally started to set up. By this point it was almost 30 minutes past, and I was thinking of bailing because apparently there was a really solid set going on at Rancho. The sound guy at Supermarket didn’t seem to be helping much, he was in no rush to get the set going. Mode Moderne started playing, and they had that gloomy pop sound that a lot of bands do these days, and I’m not into that. Not very many bands can pull it off right, and I wasn’t into Mode Moderne so I bailed.

Schomberg Fair @ El Mocambo — After they finished playing at the El Mocambo last night, there was a lot of buzz about the Schomberg Fair on twitter. And rightly so, because they played a super intense set of old and new material. They even brought up Daniel from Different Skeletons to play electric guitar on one song. The new stuff is sounding as heavy as ever, and Nate had a few new pedals out on display (Bass Wah!). Definitely another festival highlight.

Mystery Band? @ Rancho Relaxo – Bright Light Bright had passport issues at the border, so NXNE sent a band to fill in. I didn’t catch their name, but they played kind of atmospheric folky indie rock. Their sound was not unlike a lot of bands, but I enjoyed their set. I think they may have been nervous about playing on such short notice — and their sound didn’t exactly fit the bill — but for a band playing an unannounced set I thought they were pretty good. I preferred their more upbeat material, but otherwise it was a good set.

Heartbeat Hotel @ Rancho Relaxo – I swear I have seen Heartbeat Hotel before, but I can’t place where. A lot has been said about Hearbeat Hotel needing a good sound mix, and last night at Rancho their set sounded great. Lots of reverb soaked pop-melodies colliding with psychedelic soundscapes. That said, I still am not completely sold on them as a band. Pretty good stuff, but there’s something I can’t put my finger on stopping me from really getting into their music. I’m hoping one day it will just click, but it hasn’t yet.

At this point I thought that Teenanger were playing at Sneaks, but I wrote my schedule down wrong because they were at Silver Dollar. Odd because I’ve seen them at Silver Dollar at least three times and I should know that they play the festival dates there by now. Anyway, instead I went and got 3 tofu tacos at Salsa’s on Agusta Street, and goddamn they were delicious!

Babe @ Rancho Relaxo – Babe played electro-indie-rock featuring a stand-up drummer and a sing-talk-rapper vocalist. I seemed to be the only one of my friends who didn’t really like their stuff. They were super energetic and put on a good show, but it wasn’t for me. Their cover of “Guns of Brixton” was alright I guess.

HONHEEHONHEE @ El Mocambo – I never could decide on a way to pronounce HONHEEHONHEE’s name until I finally saw them live last night. I’ve been hearing things about this band for a while now — I missed their last show at Rancho — and I can now say that the hype is for real. Their set at the El Mo was intense, energetic and catchy. Their songs are pretty quirky, they smash together indie-pop-orchestra style songwriting with oddball art arrangements. It totally works though, and the band seemed to be having a great ol’ time up there. Definitely check them out tonight at Rancho Relaxo if you’re reading this and have time to run over there.

Dream Jefferson @ Rancho Relaxo – Dream Jeff after-party! Is there any better way to end a festival than with a crowd-dancing-on-stage, Owel Five-smashing-the-ceiling explosion of party rap amazingness? Rancho patrons who had no idea what was about to happen practically jumped out of their seats and up to the front when the Dream Jeff party got started. Toronto, take notice: Dream Jeff are here to stay!

And now I’m beat. Nothing quite takes it out of you like NXNE, and I’m ready to pass out. Those of you who still have some energy need to head down to Rancho Relaxo for the Officially Unofficial NXNE After-Party, co-presented by Buying Shots For Bands. Do it!

Dan Gorman
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