NXNE

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

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

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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.

2016 in Review: Ricky’s Favorite Shows

Posted on by Ricky in Year End Reviews | Leave a comment

Chvrches

2016 is now closing. What a year. Anyways, here are some of my favorite shows of the year, because you care deeply about my opinions.

Suede, Primavera, June
Anytime you can see your favorite band in one of your favorite cities in the world in the summer time, you just gotta do it. This Suede show was a hit fest from beginning to end and set the bar high for the rest of the bands playing Primavera.

Here’s my song by song review.

Daughter, Primavera, June
The girl from Daughter breaking into a smile halfway through a serious song because the entire crowd was singing along warmed my heart so much I might have died.

Hall & Oates, June or July, Toronto
Hard to find a better band to enjoy live on the lawns of the Molson Amphitheatre on a crisp summer night. It’s been too long since they last came around.

Vince Staples, SXSW, SPIN party
This guy was hilarious and the Spin party was it’s usual awesomeness with free booze, good sun and a stellar lineup. I definitely remember him being funny and it made his set pretty good.

El Conjunta Nueva, SXSW
Anytime you have a chance to see a Mexican band singing hard rock mariachi covers of modern pop songs while dressed up in Luchador costumes, you gotta do it. Also, they were playing in between wrestling matches featuring actual luchadores, so yeah it was pretty memorable. Only in Austin.

Estelle, SXSW, McDonalds Loft
Estelle played the McDonald’s party. Free fries, free booze and Estelle singing “American Boy.” What more can you ask for? Also, the discovery that Estelle actually has more good tracks was pretty inspiring.

Everything NXNE
Haha jk.

LCD Soundsystem, Primavera
LCD Soundsystem came back fast and furious this year and their show at Primavera was just an amazing show and a great party. A very swift reminder of just what a really great band sounds like live. Perfect festival show for a perfect festival band.

NXNE Review: Pere Ubu, June 16, Lee’s Palace

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

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As Pere Ubu started their set at Lee’s Palace on Thursday night, frontman David Thomas told the crowd that the band was pretty amped up since this was the first date on their current tour. He went on to explain the difference between “normal person amped up” and Pere Ubu’s version of amped up: “It’s unsustainable – we’re old men. That’s why I’m sitting down. My body may be broken, baby, but my mind is as dangerous as ever!”

Thomas, delightfully weird and cranky curmudgeon that he is, led his bandmates through a set of classics from 1975 to 1982. “Don’t play the loud part!” he shouted at them during one tune, forcing the band to quickly switch things up and play the song a bit differently. He mentioned afterwards that bassist Michele Temple was probably disappointed that she didn’t get the one chance during their show to use her pedal on the aforementioned loud part. “If your bass player ever says they want to buy a pedal, fire them,” he joked.

Of course it’s sometimes hard to tell whether Thomas is always joking or not. On this occasion, he seemed to take some pleasure in berating his bandmates, especially the guitarist, for not playing things quite the way he wanted them. I’m not sure how much of it was serious and how much was an act, but it certainly made for a livelier performance. That’s David Thomas for you – his mind is as dangerous as ever.

NXNE Review: TUNS, June 15, The Garrison

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

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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).

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