Saturday night at NXNE

A Friday-night set was my favourite — Dum Dum Girls at Lee’s — but Saturday earned the honours of being my top night at the festival.

I started my Saturday evening at Yonge-Dundas Square to see Cults, because I had missed them at Lee’s the night before. They sounded great, but the square was a reminder of why I hate outdoor sets. A billion people were lined up for free shirts, people were arguing about religion in front of the mall, and the barrier keeps you about 20 feet from the band even if you’re in the front row.

So I hauled my cranky ass over to Rancho. I had planned to see Mode Moderne at Supermarket for 8pm, but I didn’t have my pass on me yet, so I went to the Ranch for Pop Winds instead. (Apparently the Supermarket was running behind, so it’s just as well.) They had a cool ambient sound with lots of pedals and effects, and they really won the crowd over, especially considering how early it still was. Not 100% my thing, but still interesting.

I started my first of a few trips between Rancho and El Mocambo by popping across the street to catch the Schomberg Fair play. I’ve seen these guys live dozens of times, but it’s always great. I loved hearing a couple new tracks, which sounded really cool. Lots of fun, as always.

I stuck around the El Mo to see Harper Blynn, an indie-pop band from Brooklyn. They played a solid set with great vocals, but I feel like they suffered a bit in Schomberg’s aftermath. Would have liked to see more people there for them.

And then, back to Rancho! I saw Heartbeat Hotel play at the Silver Dollar during CMW, and their set was disappointing. The sound was terribly muddy, which is a really bad thing when you’re a band that uses a couple dozen pedals. Their Rancho set was much stronger — better sound, and more confidence on stage. Nice to hear them sounding like I know they can.

And then, back to the El Mocambo! I was scheduled to check out Coppertone, and the guys in Schomberg Fair spoke highly of her. They didn’t lie — her blues-drenched guitar and vocals had a good crowd out and sounded great. I picked up her EP after her set, so I’ll be giving that a listen at home soon.

Can you guess where I went next? That’s right, Rancho Relaxo! Babe played a great electro-rock set there that had a packed crowd dancing by the stage. I actually gave up on trying to get photos of them; I didn’t get up to the front early enough, and once they started it was impossible.

Back to the El Mo! HONHEEHONHEE played their first Toronto show at Rancho a couple weeks ago, and play their third Toronto show there tonight. In between, they played a well-attended set at the El Mocambo. I was really happy to see a good crowd out for the band, and that said crowd was digging it. You’re just going to have to go see HONHEEHONHEE for yourself — they’re one of my new favorites.

After that, I made a quick return to Rancho, where Dream Jefferson were playing the 3am slot, only having been added a few hours earlier. I think these guys must thrive on adversity; they had very little time to prep to play, and they were playing really late in the night, but their set was high-energy and tons of fun. They turned Rancho into a dance party.

The logical thing to do after all of this is to go eat Chinese food, right? We ate a ridiculous quantity at King Lobster. I need to get more of the garlic broccoli in my stomach, stat.

The pic on this post was taken as we were cabbing home from King Lobster. I’m pretty sleepy today, but it was worth it.

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