Day 4 of NXNE consisted of a couple of day time events and seeing bands at night.
First up was the annual BBQ for Revolution Road Studios / Joao Carvalho Mastering. This is always a highlight of the festival for me as there are always great bands performing, good food and of course…beer. Not to mention all the great people attending and running the show. I personally love it as I get to see so many friends and acquaintances all in one place having a great time.
One of the bands performing was Sumo Cyco (if you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that this is the band that won Indie Week Canada 2013) They came on and instantly got the crowd going. Lead singer, Skye, not only has great energy, but also is really great at getting out into the crowd and interacting with people. By the reaction form the crowd, I’d say they won over some new fans.
Up next was a band that I unfortunately can’t remember their name, but they were from Chicago. Their sound was more of a blues and roots rock vibe. They were good but would’t say memorable. Might be why I can’t remember their name….
We then saw a band that came on and had some pop punk energy but I wasn’t digging it – it seemed like a few things were out of tune and also it seemed like a couple of the players didn’t know the songs. Might have just been me, but it was a good enough reason to leave.
At the BBQ we ran into members of The Rabid Whole who were nice enough to drive us back downtown (the BBQ was East….wayyy East) so that saved us a lot of time. We did a quick stop at the Tiki bar at the Bovine Sex Club for a couple of cocktails as well it gave us a chance to chat and get caught up.
Next stop was the Football Factory for the annual sonaBlast party where we ran into more people from the BBQ – that’s the thing, you end up seeing a lot of the same people that are on similar schedules hopping around from party to party. It took awhile for the first band to get started and by the time they did it was time to get to the next destination. We just heard the first song which seemed pretty good but not enough to make a review.
Every year the Cameron House closes down the street and hosts an outdoor stage. This year Zeus was headlining – I’ve had them play at SXSW for a daytime show/party I hosted with Indie Week and Red Gorilla – so I decided to support the band and watch their set. Zeus is definitely a band that is seasoned and know their audience. The music comes first and has a beatles-esque quality to it. Lots of harmonies and instrument switching going on. I’m glad I stopped to see their whole set.
While watching Zeus, they mentioned that The Golden Dogs were playing at The Rivoli at 11pm so we decided to go and check them out. We ended up staying much longer than anticipated. To my surprise, The Golden Dogs were the band we saw at the BBQ. This time around they were amazing! They had great energy, they had the crowd bouncing and the songs all had a post punk pop sound not too distant from The Cars. The place packed up for them which was good to see.
When the Golden Dogs finished their set, I was at a point where I had no further plans. The band setting up seemed interesting as there were 8 people and horns, so I decided to stay an check them out. The band was called The Human Orchestra and they ended up being a pleasant surprise. The female singer commanded the stage and had a vibe that drew the crowd in. She had immense energy and charisma. The rest of the band were a perfect fit. I would definitely see this band again.
After that just a quick stop at the Hideout and then it was time to call it a night.
All in all NXNE was … ok. The parties were great, the bands were for the most part ok, the standouts were mostly the ones I knew from before and the discovery of the week was Human Orchestra. The shows attendance overall was ok but not great.
There was a lot of controversy this year as NXNE wasn’t wanting to play along with CMW moving their dates to just a month before. So NXNE implemented at 45 day radius clause which prevented bands from playing both festivals (although some were favoured and were allowed to while others had to cancel their CMW showcase not play NXNE). There were tons of rumours and complaints flying around during the festival. To everyone’s surprise, NXNE sent out a press release stating they were lifting the clause and that they were planning on working with CMW on programming next year. A shocker considering how much the two festivals are direct rivals with each other. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
This year was a transition year for NXNE as well with with new director Cristopher Roberts taking over. It will be good to see the festival grow again next year.