NXNE Concert review: Zeus, Timber Timbre, and Still Life Still [The Courthouse, June 18, 2009]

Toronto – Let’s just say I doubt any city other than Austin TX has the stamina to run 5 days of 12 hr music festival packed with people from all walks of life who collectively have probably walked all of Earth. But Toronto is doing a fine job trying. The nice thing about going to NxNE is that shows start later at 8pm – per our bilingual tradition no self-respecting Canadian in his/her own turf would get going before tea and dinner/wine time. This gave me a chance to be selective and then head down – kudos to the organizers. After sampling myspace I decided for the Courthouse.

Still Life Still, The Courthouse, NxNE 2009

The Courthouse is a bit of a oddity for music – it’s actually a dance club with 25′ ceiling and a gargantuan chandelier. Purple lighting and the spacious-ness gives you the illusion of exclusivity – which of course defeats the entire purpose of a concert… if you want that you’d go to jail – which then bags the question why the Don Jail is being turned into an office and not a night club, but I digress. It does make a spectacular photo. True of all shows at NxNE that I saw, there weren’t much technical issues, and the bands started on-time. Hometown band Zeus came out with “how does it feel”, and brought the crowd into the right mood. And with very good solid command of presentation I might add – it feels like they are a more mature band than that betrayed by their band-age: if myspace wasn’t lying they formed in 2007/08. They are fairly crisp and flighty in sound, but I would say their songs are a tad hard to track down. It might have something to do with the fact that all of the band member except the drums take over vocal at some point. It would seem that each cover their respective song. Numbers like “Marching Through Your Head” was pretty expressive through the vocal and I almost wish they stuck with that road. But who am I to dictate?

Zeus, The Courthouse, NxNE 2009

Timber Timbre started with 2 min of bird chirps. It was a fitting backdrop to the lumberjack green that him and the saxophone had in common. It slowly morphed into the opener “There is a cure”. It’s hard to describe this guy. If you imagine listening to a tape recording of someone singing blues at 1/5 normal speed in the loo of their cottage… When I went on to Dakota Tavern a day later, I did find someone at the show who said they found him pretentious. I don’t quite think that’s true. I do agree that his songs flow from one to the next without much changes when it’s live – not always in a good way since the audience weren’t mesmerized but could distinctively feel the need to switch. I do like the tunes though – there’s a definite 1999 Moby feel to it. I would like to hear a bit more from him… and would also appreciate it if he looks up a bit more often or finds a club that doesn’t give him a huge face shadow – it was a mess to try to capture his expressions with everyone trying to irradiate him.

timber timbre, The Courthouse, NxNE 2009

And this is when the decision got tough – I had a 8am meeting the next morning but the Stills were coming. In the end I watched East York’s Still Life Still for a bit and went to the back for a wrap-up picture. They had lots of energy, and the drummer was making faces left and right making good photo-ops – but unfortunately I had ran out of juice – must be the age.  It was actually a very good start night to the festival. I did attend all but Sunday, but I’ll leave the other days for the others and have the rest on pictures. Wade will bring you to Dakota Tavern, and Mark will trash someone at the Horseshoe. Stay tuned.

Still Life Still, The Courthouse, NxNE 2009

Final verdict:
Timber Timbre
Still Life Still

Posted on by Gary in Concerts, North By Northeast