10: Champion Lover is a name that Toronto is going to have keep on its radar in the weeks and months to come. Yes, this band is composed of ex-Black Devils Brigade members, but that is where the comparison ends. They are both heavy, but Champion Lover are way noiser, more experimental, and a much more intense listening and watching experience. If they build on this first show, the sky is truly the limit.
9: $15 is a lot of coin to ask someone to shell out to go into one venue to maybe only see a couple of bands. Throughout the course of the week, I witnessed easily a couple hundred people opt out of paying that cover. Venues did not know what the cover would be until we showed up the day of the show, which leads me to believe the Fest knew this might be an issue. On the flip side, with the new higher cover free events thrived like never before — many of which were not officially affiliated with NXNE.
8. When Meanwood hits the stage everything changes — a glorious drunken dance party breaks out every god damn time and its the most awesome thing ever! I don’t know if its the infectious nature of the music, the great attitudes of the band, the “witching hour”, or all of the above but Meanwood is quickly converting this city one raucous live show at a time.
7. I had five 8 PM slots, and all of them had a minimum of 30-65ish people in attendance for them except for one; that set had two people who weren’t employed by the venue or the festival. If you do not make any effort to promote your showcase or get a crowd out yourself, then maybe don’t get up on stage and talk a bunch of snarky sarcastic junk throughout your outdated pop-punk set.
6. Frustratingly, Toronto media are still running around to the show and set they are “supposed” to be at as opposed to trying to find new and exciting music and reporting on that. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather read about a new act than hear about Buzz Band X for the zillionth time. Remember, even Metz once played a show at Rancho to 25 people; now they are on Sub Pop. Though I will say, we received some great critic picks that translated into increased turnouts and a lot of bloggers were at the venue. So, maybe this is changing a little bit.
5. Amos the Transparent are bigger (size and sound wise) and better than ever! They also love the Rancho as much as ever as well. It never fails to break into a sweaty bandbox of a sing along when Amos is in that room and Sunday night was no exception. They’re such a tremendous live band that really should be one of Canada’s biggest acts, and I still believe that day will come. In the meantime, you need to get their vinyl as it’s beautiful and sounds amazing.
4. Maintenance — and I mean personal-health maintenance — is super important during the festivals. The last few years at each festival I have fallen victim at some point to severe dehydration and/or heat exhaustion. A few times, I even contemplated going to the hospital; it was that bad. Because of it, I missed the Sunday at a few festivals or big chunks of nights when I had to go home to recover. This year I made it from start to finish. The difference? Hydration, massive hydration including Vitamin Water, homemade smoothies, juice, and at least a liter of water before every show and more throughout the night to offset the booze. That and making time to eat real food. It made a huge difference.
3. Some places/people will do anything to drum up business no matter how distasteful it may be. On Saturday Toronto was devastated by the news of the Radiohead stage collapsing and killing a member of their crew. Yet rumours ran rampant they may play that night; Sneaky Dee’s even started putting out tweets suggesting that might be the case which was further perpetuated by a series of retweets. Eventually they retracted the rumour, but in my opinion it was way too late. Never should have happened in the first place.
2. Dream Jefferson are going to Manchester Blue your face off in the months to come! Everybody knows I have been a longtime supporter and backer of the Dream Jeff crew, but now you are going to see why more than ever. The new EP — which you can download for free if you click the band’s name there — is an absolute BEAST of a recording and live it’s even better than that! It has all the energy of the older stuff but in a much more refined and melodic package. And Owel Five, who is usually operating at about 200% energy live, is forced down to about 150% due to his new double duty as a rapper and a singer, but at that level his showmanship shines even more. They may well have stole NXNE at midnight on Sunday; people were literally floored.
1. Toronto music is better, more diverse, and more vibrant than ever. I’ve been doing this a while and I’ve literally seen thousands of bands, lots of which do not exist anymore and/or evolved into new bands. But I can honestly say that in 2012 we are kicking just as much ass as we ever have. We’re just kicking it a little differently. Can’t wait for next year!
Photo of Meanwood by Andres Hannah-Suarez