NXNE Review: Blowfly, WHY?, Still Corners, June 14, Horseshoe Tavern


After a futile attempt to take in The National’s set at Yonge-Dundas Square, I hightailed it out of there and made my way to The Horseshoe for an eclectic evening of music that seemed to be the result of the programmers throwing together a few bankable names that didn’t really fit with each other but made for a decent evening nonetheless.

The evening started with London’s Still Corners, who offered up a set of unremarkable, moody electro/dreampop. I say unremarkable because it wasn’t really good or bad, it was mostly just there. Which in a way is worse than being bad I suppose. I must say I was hoping for more from them based on some good reviews from reputable sources, but at that point in the night, it was doing very little for me. Had I been more familiar with their music I might have enjoyed it more, but I wasn’t so i didn’t. After catching a short bit of their set, I moved on from there to plot out my next move and grab a quick pint at Michael’s Restaurant, an establishment for which i have some fondness.

Even though I was sure they’d put on a good show, I skipped out on Buke and Gass, curiosity driving me further along Queen West to Czehoski, where I caught a set by psych folkie Ed Askew, whose gentle tunes ended up being just what i needed at that point in the night.


After that, I returned to The Horseshoe, where things took a bit of a turn for the weird. I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about music, which is why it always comes as a surprise when a band I knew next to nothing about ends up having a large and dedicated following. On this night, WHY? were that band. I suppose it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the midnight slot at one of the consistently packed venues of NXNE would feature a band that would end up drawing a large crowd, but it was still a bit weird to me to see many in the crowd singing along. WHY? were a very interesting band. Sounding like a cross between hip hop and indie/folk rock, they had enough going on sonically to hold my interest, though I’m not quite sure if they’re my cup of tea.

Finally, the night ended with the reason why I decided to anchor myself at The Horseshoe – Blowfly. The 74 year old funk/rap legend, otherwise known as Clarence Reid, has been going since the ’70s, performing his sexually explicit songs, which often take the form of parodies of more popular tunes. This show was definitely a curiosity, one where I had to see exactly how it would all go down (and to see how many references to “going down” Blowfly might make). Despite WHY? frontman Yoni Wolf telling the crowd that they “could do worse” than sticking around to catch Blowfly’s set, the crowd had thinned out a fair bit by the time he came on, but those in attendance were treated to such Blowfly classics as “Rapp Dirty,” “Incredible Fulk” and his own versions of songs from the likes of Sam Cooke, The Clash, and R Kelly (“I Believe My Dick Can Fly”). While his tunes are certainly politically incorrect (“working blue” as they called it back in the day), it was fun to let loose and listen to this dirty old man sing his songs. And really, how many 74 year olds do you know who can rock a cape and mask like Blowfly does?

Posted on by Paul in North By Northeast

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