NXNE

Concert Review: US Girls, June 15, Yonge-Dundas Square

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

20180615_190741

The last couple of years have seen NXNE take a bit of a sharp decline, with the focus moving away from the club-level shows and towards the ultimately failed experiment of the Portlands fest-within-a-fest. Generally, many were less than impressed with the direction NXNE seemed to be going. Our coverage of NXNE on this very site also reflected this, with phrases like: “Holy crap what the hell happened to NXNE?”, “NXNE is not what it used to be”, “NXNE is a tiny shell of its former self” and “Let’s face it, NXNE is dead” coming up in our reviews over the past two years.

Thankfully, NXNE is not dead yet and seems to be making its way towards a recovery of some sort with this year’s move back into its old stomping grounds at Yonge-Dundas Square anchored by a fairly stacked lineup that included the likes of Chvrches, Lights, Big Freedia, Tinashe, and Torres taking to the stage (although not the regular stage at YDS – NXNE set up a separate new stage out on Yonge Street for some reason). The first night of the big, free, outdoor shows started things off strong with a solid lineup that included Jazz Cartier, Azealia Banks, and recent Polaris longlist nominees US Girls.

Taking to the stage at 7:00pm, US Girls’ Meghan Remy made a strong impression right off the bat as she took to the stage and asked the gathered crowd to close their eyes and imagine what this space had been used for in years gone by, in the days “before H&M, before LED and NXNE.” In a sense, she was perhaps trying to reclaim the space, or at least to get people thinking about how we use that space. It was a memorable moment for sure.

US Girls impressed with a set that showcased the talents of Remy and her stellar band as they ran through songs off of their latest release In A Poem Unlimited. The band’s mix of thoughtful and political lyrics alongside danceable, disco-inspired grooves made for an inspiring and entirely memorable performance.

NXNE Review: TUNS, June 15, The Garrison

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

IMG_3179

This year NXNE is a tiny shell of its former self and despite the lack of shows/bands, many were still pretty pumped to check out TUNS on a hot Toronto night at the packed Garrison. If you didn’t already know, this Canadian Indie “supergroup” is composed of Chris Murphy from Sloan, Mike O’Neill from The Inbreds, and Matt Murphy from The Super Friendz/The Flashing Lights. They popped up out of the blue last fall and created a bit of buzz with their first recorded song “Throw It All Away” and the more recently released “Mind Over Matter.”

As predicted, the trio split vocal duties which included several sung by Chris while hammering away on the drums. Their songs weren’t completely polished and came off almost as DIY punk – this is not meant to be a slight but rather a compliment to their songs, which combined unique offerings from three musical minds.

Between a mix of slower, more melodic songs were a few rockers that brought out Matt Murphy’s patented high kick. Their set lasted about 40 minutes and upon returning to the stage following their initial set, Matt let the energetic crowd know that this was “Our first encore.” They offered up two covers to end the night, The Beatles’ “There’s a Place” and Guided By Voices’ “Game of Pricks.”

Their debut album will be released at the end of August on Royal Mountain Records (Alvvays, Pup, Hollerado).

SXSW / NXNE Preview: San Fermin

Posted on by Ricky in North By Northeast, Song of the Day, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

San Fermin

We here at Panic Manual have been big fans of San Fermin for a long time. Their self titled debut album was one of my favorite albums back in 2013, back when I was a young lad. Since then, I have matured significantly and perhaps this too is reflected with the sound of the new album. Maybe it has not, I don’t know. I have not listened to their new record, which is entitled Jackrabbit. The album is out on April 21st but for those of us lucky enough to go to Austin, they will be playing a plethora of shows at SXSW this year.

The picture above was a party they played in Austin for SXSW. What’s not pictured? Free muther fuckin bbq’s! Sausages! Brisket! Ribs galore! This type of gastronomical satistfaction was reflected perfectly in the San Fermin live show – a little bit of everything, high peaks and deeply satisfying. I don’t know if this post makes any sense. Regardless, they are a band to check out and I mean that in the most honest, sincere way.

They are also playing NXNE for those who can’t make the journey to Texas.

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

Barr Bros

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.

Danny Brown YDS

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.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7   Next »