NXNE is a festival that has a lot going on but to really participate in most of the days activities you have to be in the know. NXNE does have a conference going on, but truthfully, I’ve never attended. The reasoning is that during the day, there are parties littered throughout the city and part of the fun is wrangling onto a guest list here and there.
Thursday is the start of the parties.
We first had to get our responsibilities out of the way, regular work, go to hotel to pick up our wristbands, and meetings. With all of that out of the way we were ready to take on the festivities.
Our first stop was the annual Dine Alone Records / Dine Alone Foods BBQ. I love this party as it has such a laid back vibe to ease into the other parties, great food, great people , great times – this year they had BBQ steak and hot dogs served up with their newly released BBQ sauce. Yes, they are a record label and a food line! This year the theme was carnival which meant the entertainment was a fire juggler and air guitar band. On our way out I ran into an old friend Mike Bell who I hand’t seen in probably ten years or more when I was booking the B-Side and even before that, when I was playing shows in Hamilton. Mike used to be in the band Chore – look them up, they were great.
We decided to head to Queen street to check out bands as there was a great lineup at the Horseshoe which meant a logical place to start. The Horsehose is being sponsored by Budweiser so the venue was pimped out in Bud branding everywhere. If you tweeted their has tag you received a free shirt. NQ Arbuckle were on stage playing their brand of laid back country and the crowd was definitely enjoying it.
10pm I had to be at the Cameron House for the band Slow Leaves as part of the Manitoba showcase. I had received a tip they were a band to watch and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I noticed some music industry reps in the room during their set so I wasn’t the only one taking an interest. They have a countryesque sound with some great guitar playing.
It was then off to The Bovine Sex Club to catch New York act GHXST – this was a definite highlight. Loud, down tuned, shoe gazer-metal just the way I like it. I was surprised however they played a very short set at only 20 minutes. Which meant we had time to kill, so we decided to stop into the Paddock out of curiosity.
The Paddock isn’t know to have bands, it’s more of a pub. We managed to catch Stone Iris from Edmonton. I sure hope they have more shows than this one as they were cramped into a stage beside the door and the sound was pretty poor – it didn’t do them justice (although from the NXNE website, it does look like this was they only show). For a band to pay to drive / fly all the way here to play a sub-par venue is a shame.
We got there and were surprised how empty the bar was. The band on stage was called The New Enemy. They were ok just not my thing.
I was surprised how empty the club was while waiting for Sumo Cyco to hit the stage but just as the band was starting the place packed up. The crowd was with the band from the first song, escalating to a mosh pit mid set. The band was by far the best act I’ve seen so far, really tight and professional. They showed why they won Indie Week and made me proud. They are a great group of people who are working their asses off and they deserve any success they get. They recently announced that they will be playing some Warped tour dates. Kudos to them, catch them if you are into loud rock n roll – think No Doubt meets Rob Zombie.
The band on after Sumo Cyco, I didn’t catch their name and they aren’t listed on the NXNE site, but they were an odd punk band with a robot on stage with one of them on the floor most of the time. Take it for what you will. lol.
Another aspect to festivals that I love are seeing old friends – the Bovine was packed with friends i hadn’t seen in a long time, it was hard to leave the party but morning meetings call for much needed sleep.
To sum up day 2, it was much better than day 1, there were still a few bumps but the festival is settling in as they all do and the weekend is shaping up to be a good one. Sumo Cyco were the top act I saw (not a biased opinion but honest), Slow Leaves were probably the second best.