Toronto – Friday night at NXNE had a lot going on, but being a fan of the one stop shop, I decided to park myself at Lee’s Palace for the triple bill of Dirty Beaches, Dum Dum Girls and Cults.
Dirty Beaches is the stage name for fellow Asian Alex Zhang Hungtai’s musical act. His buzz has been steadily building after Pitchfork gave his record an 8.2 rating. Arguably one of the most impressive thing about Dirty Beaches’ performance is that it is an absolute one man show. The entire stage consists of Alex, his guitar, an effect filled microphone and some pedals. More often than not, Alex would just shoe gaze while delivering some intense vocals over prerecorded beats or dynamically built guitar loops. Contrary to most shows where the singer does not engage with the audience, me, and most of the sold out Lee’s Palace remained mesmerized for a good while watching this one man sing, sometimes scream into the microphone with great intensity while occasionally shredding his guitar. Eventually, the novelty of watching a one man lo fi feedback act wore off and the crowd started the usual chit chatty routine. I did enjoy some of the tracks and definitely curious if he will add a live back for his next round to promote his album, Badlands.
Dum Dum Girls
California Sub Pop act Dum Dum Girls delivered a healthy dose their 60s girl pop infused with Vaselines/J&MC inspired guitar while wearing lady of the night garb. The tracks off new EP, He Gets Me High was the highlight for me, as it was also the tracks that I am most familiar with but also seemed to have the most energy to them. It was probably a long shot, but I was hoping they’d play their excellent cover of the Smith’s There’s A Light That Never Goes Out. The girls were pretty content in letting their music do the talking, rarely saying a word to the crowd which seems like a large contradiction given their seemingly larger than life band personality.
The highlight of my Friday night stand at Lee’s Palace was definitely Cults. The New York act played a beautifully breezy summer set highlighted by Madeline Follin’s amazing voice. I had originally thought that Cults was going to be a two piece band, with Follin’s vocals accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Brian Oblivion’s multiple instruments. Much to my delight and surprise, the band brought along a few other musicians including a man who played one of my favorite summer music instruments – the glockenspiel. Tracks such as Go Outside, Rave On and You Know What I mean jumped to life on stage as the crowd swooned with each song. The whole thing made me kinda wish Mark Ronson had produced their album.
7/21 Vancouver, BC Waldorf Hotel
7/22 Seattle, WA Capitol Hill Block Party
7/23 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
7/24 San Francisco, CA The Clift
7/25 San Francisco, CA Bottom of the Hill
7/26 Los Angeles, CA Mondrian
7/27 Los Angeles, CA Echo
7/28 Eagle Rock, CA Eagle Rock Center for the Arts
7/29 San Diego, CA Soda Bar
7/30 Tucson, AZ Club Congress
8/1 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
8/2 Kansas City, MO The Riot Room
8/3 Saint Louis, MO Firebird
8/4 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
8/5 Chicago, IL Lollapalooza
8/7 New York, NY Summerstage