The Slow, Painful Death of NXNE

Posted on by Brent in Everything, North By Northeast | Leave a comment


Let’s face it, NXNE is dead. Or at least the brake lines have been cut and Lake Ontario is straight ahead. This year seemed to be more of the same as it was quite lonely throughout the club shows, especially Wednesday night at both The Garrison and down the street at the Baby G. A rough survey of the crowds saw about 25-30 of us scattered about at either venue. With more than ten listed as ‘media’ on each guestlist and likely a few of the artists’ friends in tow, that leaves the bartenders and a sound guy.

Dead like dinner.

Before their last song the lead singer of New Love (who’s a doppelganger for Phil Kessel by the way) said with all sincerity to the faint few: “Thank you to NXNE. I feel like we didn’t deserve it.” The sad thing is these guys from Hamilton seemed like good old boys decent enough to have their songs played on 102.1 or be on the Indie stage at a summer festival. Herein lies the problem with NXNE for the last two years – bands like these that are scheduled to play shows at club venues deserve better support and promotion from NXNE. Otherwise the festival needs to just focus on the big-name headliner weekend shows and make it a proper summer festival. Most of the Club Land shows, that were curated by other local artists like Brendan Canning, Shad, and Moe Berg to name a few, were poorly attended and took a distant second place to what was going on down at the inconveniently located Port Lands which, oddly enough, was also poorly attended.

Michael Hollett needs to figure out what the end goal for NXNE is. Does the festival exist to promote independent music at various venues throughout the city for a week while continuing to have three days of headlining acts at an outdoor stage or do one of those need to be re-jigged or scrapped altogether? Either way, Panic Manual has been writing reviews for this festival for ten years (seriously, here’s Ricky’s brief review from 2008) and it’s something we mostly look forward to every June. This is the first year that I’m doing shows by myself and feel little motivation to go out another night.

Sadly, the mismanagement and poor financial support has sunk this festival over the last two years and maybe it needs to take a year off and seriously reconsider what the end goal is.

Download Festival Review: Linkin Park, Gojira, Lizzies, Touche Amore, House Of Pain, June 22, Caja Magica, Madrid

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

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Midway through their set at Madrid’s Download Festival, Gojira frontman Joe Duplantier told the crowd that we were all here to forget about the bullshit and be in the moment together. In saying this he essentially articulated what festivals can be at their best. Its about community, about coming together and enjoying yourselves in a weird little shared made up world that lasts for a weekend or so. And as weird little made up worlds go, the first day of the Madrid edition of the Download Festival had a few things going for it despite taking place in a city currently in a bit of a stifling heat wave.

Aside from Gojira’s high energy, passionate set of tech-metal, other highlights of the day included LA post-hardcore crew Touché Amoré and some ’90s nostalgia in the form of Irish hip hop dudes House of Pain, who brought out special guest Sick Jack to do his thing on several of their numbers and to add a bit of Spanish stage banter while also hyping up his new project Warporn, which may or may not involve someone from Cypress Hill, I’m not sure. I don’t speak Spanish. The best thing I saw all day though were locals Lizzies, who added a much needed touch of estrogen to the male-heavy lineup while also putting on an impressive performance of their ’80s-style heavy metal/rock n’ roll tunes, even making time for a revved up cover of “House Of The Rising Sun.” With a dynamic frontwoman and a visual aesthetic that brought to mind the Runaways and Girlschool, they put on an engaging performance.


Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington made some waves a little while back when he said that fans who were griping about the bands new sound needed to “move the fuck on” from their debut album Hybrid Theory. I’ve got to say I agree with him 100% – I moved on from the album almost immediately after it was released and in fact I’m fairly certain that I’ve never even heard the whole thing all the way through. No, I’m not a fan, though I’ve been known to join in whenever someone picks “In The End” at the karaoke bar, and for the record, I think new single “Heavy” is fine as those things go, but the band’s not really my cup of tea. That said, I happened to be in Madrid, the band happened to be headlining a night at the festival and since I was there anyways, I figured why not give them a shot? As it turns out, my tolerance for Linkin Park is pretty low as I lasted about one and a half songs before ultimately deciding that, nope, I have no desire to hear any more, nor did I have the stamina to stick around any longer to hear later sets from Dark Tranquillity (OK band, terrible spellers), Monster Magnet, and, for some reason, an AC/DC cover band, so I made it an early night and headed back to some much needed air conditioning.

Concert Review: Mary Timony, June 12, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


If there was a doubt left in anyone’s mind that Mary Timony is a bona fide badass rock n’ roll guitar hero, surely they were put to rest after seeing her performance at The Horseshoe on Monday night. After already impressing  with a full set of classic numbers from her days in the band Helium, Timony then invited Rebecca Cole, her former bandmate from Wild Flag, to come out and join her on lead vocal in an encore performance of Yes’ “Long Distance Runaround.” My nerdy, prog rock loving heart grew three sizes upon hearing Timony and her top notch band’s rendition of the old prog chestnut.

But while I’d probably pay good money to see a Mary Timony Plays Yes tour, that song was just the icing on the cake after seeing Timony revisit the songs that she last played with Helium some twenty-ish years ago – songs like “XXX,” “Pat’s Trick,” “Honeycomb,” and “Superball” to name a few. Though I was never a huge Helium fan back in the day, I always appreciated their stuff and followed Timony’s career through her solo work and her time with Wild Flag and Ex Hex. After seeing Mary Timony play Helium on Monday night, I would now definitely count myself as a big fan.

Here’s a video of Timony and band doing “Long Distance Runaround” with guest Joan Wasser at New York’s Mercury Lounge on June 9:

Concert Review: Everclear, Vertical Horizon, June 11, Danforth Music Hall

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


During Everclear’s performance of “Normal Like You” (the third song off of So Much For The Afterglow, the album the band was touring behind in honour of its 20th anniversary), there was a mass singalong of the lyric “I will never be normal like you.” A quick survey of the crowd immediately after suggested to me that they all looked pretty damn normal, relatively speaking. I guess 20 years might do that to an Everclear fan – eventually, somebody’s going to buy you a garden and a new life and there you are, all normal and stuff all of a sudden. Another sign that everyone is 20 years older came when singer Art Alexakis exhorted the crowd to jump during “Everything To Everyone” and well, everyone did not jump. That’s hard on the back and the arches, don’tcha know. Anyways, we’re all getting older, so I won’t belabor the point, but I will note that Alexakis made an old guy joke later in the night at his own expense when he quipped, “Look out, they gave grandpa a whammy bar.”

The band performed So Much For The Afterglow in it’s entirety, taking a break halfway through the album to perform a handful of songs from other albums, including “Heroin Girl,” “Heartspark Dollarsign,” “Fire Maple Song,” and the “The Man Who Broke His Own Heart” before coming back to the second half of the album and returning for an encore that ended things off with their biggest hit “Santa Monica.” I found it a bit weird that they would separate the album into “side 1″ and “side 2″ seeing as how the album they were playing was released when CDs were very much still a thing and vinyl was not really yet a thing again. But I guess the band are all old enough to remember vinyl the first time around anyways and splitting it up into two halves gave them the chance to play a few more songs from throughout their career. It probably also helped to split things up since the “second side” of Afterglow didn’t really have any hits.

Speaking of songs that people don’t necessarily know, Vertical Horizon singer Matt Scannell was kind enough to warn the crowd that they were about to play a brand new, unreleased song and sort of ask permission to play it. “I know it’s weird to see a band and hear a song you’ve never heard before, but we hope you like it. Because writing songs is my favourite thing to do and I don’t ever want to stop.” I can only speak for myself, but having never paid much attention to the band, they were practically all new songs to me, and I’d wager that most were probably fine with hearing the new song since several of them likely only know a maximum of two songs by the band anyways. Scannell seemed to acknowledge as much when he thanked the “stalwart few” who were singing along earlier in the set and jokingly encouraged everyone to sing along even if they didn’t know the words. I’ve always thought of the band as nothing more than a footnote in the annals of ’90s rock, but there were indeed some hardcore Vertical Horizon supporters up front and it was kind of heartwarming nonetheless to see how appreciative Scannell and his bandmates were of the fans.

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