Toronto – The first night of NXNE featured many bands playing many places, much like every other night of this festival. However, on this particular night, in a dimly lit venue just west of Dundas and Ossington was a particular man. That particular man was me, and that dimly lit venue was the Garrison. I was there to check out two American bands, possibly making me a traitor to my own country and at the same time, making me a trailblazer among the community for seeing something so un-Canadian, it inspired riots in a particular Canadian city three thousand miles away.
Baltimore’s Lower Dens started off the night and instantly made me feel like an idiot for comparing them to the other notable Baltimore act, Beach House. Filling the Garrison room with a wall of guitar and feedback, Lower Dens erased to me any notions that they sounded like Victoria Legrand and co. Jana Hunter’s low key vocals and the bands penchant for standing around playing equipment made their set a stand and listen kind of show, which would have been fine, but the Garrison’s somewhat muffled sound systems did the band no favors and what was supposed to be a layering guitar sound filled with beautifully arranged subtleties became just noise. The guitarist’s awesome mustache almost made up for it. Almost.
Next up was The Postelles, a New York band fittingly championed/produced by the Strokes’s Albert Hammonds Jr. Relying on catchy hooks played to a surf-garage retro inspired guitars, four piece act did the excellent job of sounding both fresh and familiar at the same time. In case you were wondering where the band’s influences lies, the band played a cover of Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog to much fanfare. Neon Windbreaker member and frequent passport forgetter Jonathan Dekel joined the band on stage to add guest vocals to the single White Light to end off the splendid forty minute set. Their self titled debut is available now and you can grab the vinyl here. Probably one of the highlights of the festival, even if it’s only the first day.