NXNE day 3: Mikal Cronin, Jef Barbara, White Lung


Day 3 of Nxne actually started immediately after work at the Exclaim BBQ and let me tell you, hot weather, lots of friends around, free jäger and free beer is a recipe for a good time.

Perhaps we had too good a time, as we arrived at The National concert just as it began. I guess I had underestimated their popularity because Yonge and Dundas Square was packed, leaving me with an obscure view. While Matt and company sounded fine, I kept on thinking about the last time I saw them. That was at Primavera, in Barcelona on a stage with the Mediterranean on our backs. Not quite having the same euphoric experience, i decided to head to Silver Dollar to wait see their lineup.

Remember all those jäger shots from the exclaim party? it hit me pretty hard at the Decades set at the Silver Dollar. So I took a nap.

Immediately after Decades played their last tune, the Silver Dollar started filling up. One of the headline acts of NXNE, Mikal Cronin was playing the second of three nights at the Silver Dollar, a longstanding habit for up and coming NXNE acts.

While Cronin’s second album MCII has the appearance of a laid back affair, his live show is the complete opposite. Right from the get go, Cronin’s punk-pop rock tracks were transformed into mosh pit anthems. I guess the most suitable comparison for his show would be a Black Lips show, minus all the penises and bodily fluids. Cronin’s new material has been met with critical acclaim, and for good reason. MCII’s tracks sound instantly familiar, but at the same time, still is exciting. The excitement was shared by everyone at the venue. The energy was amazing and there were at least two successful crowd surfers, a great feat for a small venue such as the Dollar. It was also one of the most well behaved mosh pits ever as well, there were no fights and no one got hurt. Strong work, crowd.


Immediately following Mikal Cronin was Jef Barbara. Formerly of Jef and the Holograms, Jef Barbara is a singer from Montreal who is all glitter, as you can tell by the photo above. Barbara’s music reminds me of a dirty late 70/early 80’s night club, where there is rug on the walls, cigarette smoke in the air and heaps of cocaine everywhere. I would classify Jef’s music as sleazy electro-pop and the band’s set was good enough to retain a lot of the moshers from Mikal Cronin, who no doubt were wondering what time machine they had stepped into immediately after his set and why is this dude in a gold disco ball thrusting his pelvis in their faces. Great counter programming by NXNE.

White Lung at the BLK Box was the next stop on the bill. The four piece band from Vancouver have been steadily on many people’s radar the past few years and for good reason – their live show is electric. Mish Way, their fearless leader is a dynamite up on stage and is all snarls, howls, screams and energy. As you would expect, a mosh pit once again broke out during their set, making me wonder if I had somehow become a hard rock fan or something. The highlight of this set was this one girl, who was probably dancing/moshing harder then anyone, went up to the front of the stage and went for a high five with Mish Way, only Mish Way didn’t notice it and so let the girl just hang there. Probably the longest five seconds of that girl’s life. That could have been a life altering rejection, but she was able to recover from it and continue dancing. The best way to describe White Lung is just punk rock fury. It’s fast, it’s loud and it’s full of energy. Mish eventually made her way to the crowd and danced with them so maybe that girl who she left hanging got some sort of validation.

Posted on by Ricky in North By Northeast

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.