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. Continue reading
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I just found out some crazy news from Exclaim and wanted to share it with all of you! One of my all-time favourite Can-Rock bands — and well, quite frankly, bands in general — Limblifter will be re-releasing their debut on vinyl for the first time ever.
We can thank We Are Busy Bodies, a Toronto-based imprint ran by Eric Warner, for this development. I could get all indie-hipster pretentious and tell you how the second and third Limblifter albums were even better than the debut — they were, but that short-changes what was an excellent debut album and will be a tremendous addition to any Canadian music historian’s vinyl collection.
Perhaps even more exciting than this is the news that Limblifter will be reuniting (with a slightly different band) for at least two shows: one for NXNE at the El Mocambo as part of the We Are Busy Bodies showcase, and one in Hamilton. No word as of yet how different the new lineup will be, but the fact remains if both the Dahle brothers are still involved they are going to whip us all into a frenzy a la Rusty in 2011…but probably even better than that was.
In the meantime, a trip down memory lane is just a YouTube click away.
Colour me stoked!
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.
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. Continue reading
A few of us really wanted to catch Dum Dum Girls on Friday night, so me, Meghan and Kristen went to Lee’s Palace early. We got there just before doors, and there was barely a line; a few minutes and we were in and able to grab a seat. Yay!
I didn’t know the first two acts on the bill at all; if I haven’t heard a festival band that I’m slated to see, I’ll often just leave them as a surprise. Writer, from San Diego, started things off, and I really enjoyed them. The two band members played keys, drums and guitar between them; at one point the drummer was playing his kit and a small keyboard. Definitely a good start to the night. I’ll be looking these guys up online.
If the way Lee’s filled up before his set was any indication, Dirty Beaches has a lot of buzz right now. His music is probably the type that I’d say I think is cool, but it’s not my thing exactly. He worked a mix of fuzzy guitar, looped beats, and vocals that sounded a bit like Elvis with the reverb turned to 11. It was definitely an interesting sound, and at some times — mostly when he really rocked out with the guitar — I really dug it. At others, I wasn’t getting it, but if the description of what he does intrigues you, definitely check him out.
It was packed in the bar by the time Dum Dum Girls came up. Woo, Dum Dum Girls! They played a great set, with lots of energy and spot-on vocals. I was pretty happy to hear that they’ve got a new LP out in September; the new songs they played were really good. This set was definitely a festival highlight, for me.
I debated staying for Cults, but the bar was pretty thick with bros, and I was hungry. The line for Lee’s was all the way down to Ginger when we left. After a quick pit stop at Rancho, we went to Kensington and I ate more tacos than were necessary. They were delicious, but don’t think I didn’t notice that you raised your prices for the festival, Salsas!
I saw on Twitter that there wasn’t a line for the Dum Dum Girls surprise set at El Mocambo, so I popped over to see them again. The crowd at this set was more energetic (drunker?) and they played another great set of songs. Crocodiles joined them on stage for the last track; one of that band’s members berated an audience member for being an asshole, and the audience member gave him the finger in return. “You make Toronto look ugly, and Toronto is beautiful!” I’d like to know what that was all about.
I popped back to Rancho and caught the first few songs by the Black Void. They’d gamely helped fill a gap created by a scheduling error by playing a few White Stripes covers, and their own tunes were garagey and energetic. I left before the end of their set, thanks to exhaustion, but apparently the male lead got naked. No boobies on the Rancho stage in about four years, but two incidences of male nudity already in 2011. What’s up with that?
Friday night is always an intense night at NXNE — having spent the two prior nights up late and up early for work makes staying up until 4am a little tricky. I gave it my best shot last night, and here’s what I checked out:
The Breezes @ Rancho Relaxo – I was excited to check out The Breezes because they’ve got members of a band I really like called The Golden Isles. I caught them a few years back at and empty Horseshoe Tavern and loved them. Unfortunately the 8pm slot reared its head last night and The Breezes didn’t end up with much of a crowd. Their sun-kissed pop with slight psych and classic rock flourishes was alright, but I couldn’t help but think they were having an off night. The elements were there for something that I’d totally dig, but it didn’t really add up. Not the worst set by any means, but it just wasn’t there yet. I’d be interested in hearing their recordings and checking their sound out that way. Continue reading
I started my night off at Rancho again — not a bad way to do it, really. 1977 opened up the night; we actually have their vinyl at home from a Showcho show, but that’s the last time they played the bar.
They’re working on a new EP, and they played a lot of the songs during the set. The tunes sound good but the band wasn’t really working their stage presence; I felt like they gelled together musically but didn’t show much chemistry. I wish they’d brought more of the energy of their songs outward.
After that set I hopped around the corner to Bread and Circus. The room had a really nice atmosphere, with tables out and votives lit. The stage set-up also makes the venue feel a bit more special, like you’re there to see a play or a cabaret show. It was kind of nice; the transition between bands at the festivals can feel a bit abrupt sometimes but this smoothed it out.
The mood of the room also fit Hopeful Monster’s music well. They play as a four-piece, with guitar, violin, cello and piano. Their songs are pretty and could be straightforward but they bring in some interesting arrangements. I probably won’t see anything else like this band during the festival; it was a nice palate cleanser.
After that I jarred my system a little by hopping over to The Boat to see Extra Arms. The room was about half full, but didn’t seem as engaged as the B&C audience had been. Extra Arms, from Brooklyn, played a good set though; they reminded me somewhat of an Old World Vulture with lyrics. The lead singer said the show was their first out of the country; hopefully they’ll come back, because I think their sound would do well in Toronto.
(Side note: I wonder if bands from the NYC area just say now that they’re from Brooklyn, even if they don’t live there?)
One thing I hate about The Boat is the really red lighting throughout. It’s hard on the eyes, and it’s terrible for photos.
After I left The Boat, I ate two potato taquitos at Salsas. They were delicious.
I went back to Rancho, which had a good crowd, to end the night. I was pretty much down for the count by then though. In it to win it for the weekend!