North By Northeast

NXNE Review: The Barr Brothers, Massey Hall; Danny Brown, Mod Club, June 20

Posted on by Brent in Concerts, Everything, North By Northeast | Leave a comment

1x1.trans NXNE Review: The Barr Brothers, Massey Hall; Danny Brown, Mod Club, June 20

What the NXNE Press Guide said about Barr Brothers:

After touring North America through the 90s as part of improv-based rock trio The Slip, brothers Brad and Andrew Barr settled in Montreal and expanded to a quartet with the inclusion of harpist Sarah Page and multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial. They’ve birthed a unique sound reliant on interwoven string arrangements, wide open spaces, and a multitude of musical traditions.

Using Massey Hall as a regular NXNE venue was a smart decision by the organizers. Being able to have one of the city’s top music halls available for acts that might not necessarily best fit on a stage in a bar is something I hope continues at future NXNE festivals. Despite it being one of the larger venues in the city, the audience feels a sense of intimacy here and this was used to The Barr Brothers advantage.

The Barr Brothers are singer/guitarist Brad Barr, drummer Andrew Barr, harpist Sarah Page, and bassist/keyboardist Andres Vial. The brothers were once part of indie rock band Slip but have since changed their sound to one that would be classified as Americana with their laid back, acoustic-driven ballads. Their soft echoing melodies engaged the crowd at Massey. They couldn’t have played a better venue to match their sound.

1x1.trans NXNE Review: The Barr Brothers, Massey Hall; Danny Brown, Mod Club, June 20

What NXNE Press Guide said about Danny Brown:

In an era of industry-obsessed MCs, interchangeable hashtag raps, and “viral” everything, it has become increasingly difficult to find a true original in the rap game, an artist able to ignite a buzz without calculatedly chasing it down. Yet ask anyone who’s been paying attention and they’ll tell you: Danny Brown is that dude.

I was fortunate enough to catch Danny Brown twice during the festival. The first show was at a packed Yonge-Dundas Square. Let me say that there’s nothing like a couple thousand fans of various ages yelling lines like “sniffing cocaine” and ”with her hands on the floor and her feet on the wall she popped that pussy like she ain’t afraid to fall”. This first show had more of a corporate event feel with various sponsors splashed everywhere.

Less about this show and more about his headlining set at the Mod Club. The dominant demographic here were sweaty mid-20′s fans. They were half-frat, half-hipster all white kids that knew every lyric from every song. They copied his frantic ’80′s exercise move with his arm, they stuck out their tongues, and they lit up joints when Danny asked them to. Of course one was then passed on stage to himself and his DJ and let everyone know that “now it smells like a Danny Brown show” which was then followed by his unique laugh/cackle. This may then explain the following quote between songs: “I get hassled at the border every fucking time. I just wanna roll some shit up, light some shit up and smoke.”

Despite him only being given a 40-minute set, this was the perfect amount of time to get the crowd going without making it repetitive or having anyone look at their watch.

NXNE Review: Criminal Hygiene, Sneaky Dee’s; Idgy Dean, Baltic Avenue, June 21

Posted on by Paul in North By Northeast | Leave a comment

1x1.trans NXNE Review: Criminal Hygiene, Sneaky Dees; Idgy Dean, Baltic Avenue, June 21

The bio for Criminal Hygiene makes reference to the Replacements and the comparison does hold up, not just in the band’s melodic yet raw tunes, but in their onstage demeanor as well.  The band admitted that they had been drinking since 3:00 that afternoon (very ‘Mats) and that their earlier afternoon set at Yonge Dundas Square was the more professional sounding one.  I say professionalism be damned – their midnight set at Sneaky Dee’s was a bit sloppy, yes, but perhaps all the more fun because of it.

“We got stuff for you to buy … but you won’t … but it’s there if you want.” The band was being realistic about life at one of these music festivals and showing a good sense of humour about it all, but they had a merch table set up pretty much in front of the stage just so you wouldn’t miss it in case you wanted something.  I was slightly tempted, but wasn’t about to carry a 7 inch around with me for the rest of the night.

Their sense of humour was further on display in some of their other stage banter, with lines like,”We have a 5 year plan and that’s for you to never listen to us again” and a random shout out to the recently elected Han Dong (“Vote Han Dong.  I can’t stress that enough.”).  They ended off their set by announcing that they had two more songs, both originals, then followed that up with a cover of KISS’s “Love Gun.”  Yup, these guys are definitely Replacements fans.

1x1.trans NXNE Review: Criminal Hygiene, Sneaky Dees; Idgy Dean, Baltic Avenue, June 21

Earlier in the night, I saw a very different set by an equally engaging artist, Brooklyn’s Idgy Dean aka Lindsay Sanwald.  A solo artist, Sanwald fills out the sound by laying down the drums and guitar and sampling them live.  The solo artist who performs everything live and then loops it has almost become a cliche at this point, but that doesn’t make it any less of a joy to watch when its done well.  Idgy Dean may not be reinventing the wheel but she’s putting that previously invented wheel to good use. There were maybe only a dozen or so at her show but most were dancing including the performer herself.

NXNE Review: Goat, June 20, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Paul in North By Northeast | Leave a comment

1x1.trans NXNE Review: Goat, June 20, Lees Palace

A goat is an animal that’s often associated with the idea of ritual sacrifice, which is fitting since after watching swedish psych band Goat in concert I felt like I was involved in some strange kind of ceremony. One in which the band’s heavy, funky psychedelia acts as an invocation to some ancient, forgotten deity who also likes to party at Mardi Gras every now and then.

The enigmatic Swedes claim to hail from Korpilombolo, which, according to the band’s mythology, has a history of voodoo practice. The band definitely plays up the mystical vibe in their live performance, with all of the band members wearing costumes of some sort and the two masked female vocalists singing mostly in unison and dancing about the stage.

After leaving the stage just before 1:00, the band responded to the chants of “Goat!” and came out for an encore. That’s pretty rare at these sort of things. The two singers left the stage when they were finished their part and the band played an extended jam to finish it off. After seeing Swans and Spiritualized earlier in the night, I was eager to see them them take it further in that direction and turn it into a 20 minute opus but they were over time already and Pissed Jeans did have to go on still.

Despite the constraints of festival set times, the band still put on  a completely entertaining show with the time they had.  Definitely one of the more memorable sets of NXNE.

NXNE Review: Pissed Jeans, June 19 ,The Mod Club

Posted on by Brent in North By Northeast | Leave a comment

1x1.trans NXNE Review: Pissed Jeans, June 19 ,The Mod Club

What the NXNE Press Guide said about Pissed Jeans:

Age and a total of four full-lengths haven’t mellowed Pissed Jeans; they can still unleash a blare that will exfoliate your cochlea. Sometimes they sound like that feeling you’d get if you dipped your arm up to the elbow in a vat of boiling grease. Sometimes they slow down and they sound like when you wake up from a nightmare you can’t quite remember. They are also catchy. Not in a simpering, mewling way that your grandmother might appreciate, but in a way that would appeal to mental patients who only understand colours. 

Pissed Jeans came on stage and singer Matt Korvette sarcastically let the crowd know:

“We’ve actually changed our name so you might want to update that on your blogs. We’re now known as Virgin Mobile Pissed Jeans.”

Their live shows are something to be admired by other amateur acts at NXNE with the frantic pace of a hardcore show led by Korvette’s flailing arms and menacing stage-pacing. Experienced musicians are appreciated after seeing so many newer bands that can’t necessarily command a stage to that of a band like Pissed Jeans. This made for a crowd that was much more receptive than most shows I attended last week. Korvette’s banter also helped:

“You can’t play in front of a Toronto crowd and lie about your dick size. That’s rule number one.” Whatever that means.


“I’m trying this new thing where you eat a burrito before you play. So far, it’s fucking great.”

Some of the more enthusiastic members of the audience were slamming in front for several songs. They were led by a kid wearing a Misfits jacket with way too much energy.

Pissed Jeans lived up to their reputation as an aggressive, fast-paced and experienced hardcore band.

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