NXNE Review: St. Lucia, Bear Mountain, June 14, Wrongbar

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


While I’m sure everyone was enjoying the big, epic and melancholic sounds of The National at Yonge and Dundas on Friday, I was readying myself for the dance party of all dance parties at Wrongbar.

Tried to catch Valleys at the Garrison, but unfortunately, I’m a girl. We have to get ready (actually I was playing the Last of Us on PS3, how good is that fucking game!)

Moon King: Heard the last two songs.  Not a huge fan of the lead singer’s voice, but the music was okay.

We then moved our way up to the front for St. Lucia.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia: Ever since LCD Soundsystem called it quits, I’ve been in misery wondering if I would ever meet a band that could make me dance like that again. Then St. Lucia stole my heart and made me believe it was all possible again. It was one of those dance parties where you don’t even know you’re dancing, getting soaked with sweat (yours and the others around you), I couldn’t stop smiling, and I wasn’t even drunk. When they said jump up and down the audience jumped. When they played We Got it Wrong, off their self titled 6 song EP, they asked the entire audience to sing “Don’t go, don’t go away” at the proper moments, we did. Loudly. We danced, we sang, we sweated, we were transported to a tropical island dance party with St. Lucia’s sounds. St. Lucia is the project of Jean Philip-Grober, who, according to his soundcloud bio, is originally from Johannesburg and traveled the world with a boy’s school choir. Naturally giving him a taste for all forms of culture, music and art, which adds to the unique style of the music he and his band create in Brooklyn where they now reside. The sax player that came out for some songs and killed it, he got his own solos, which amped up the audience even more. Also, just a side note, never have I seen a man look that good in neon since Zack Morris.  When they finished their short set, we were cheering, hollering and even begging for an encore. How could anyone follow that act up?

Which leads me to:

Bear Mountain

Bear Mountain:  Any band can be a press play DJ and create dance music if they have natural rhythm (see: George Michael from AD and his woodblock), and read the instruction manual on their fancy machine, and that’s not to say I’m knocking it all, I’ve been to a ton of shows like that that I’ve enjoyed immensely. Yet, it’s always the bands that have that AND a live band that make the experience really great. LCD has it, Daft Punk has ventured in that direction, St. Lucia a ton more and Bear Mountain as well.

These guys are from Vancouver, part of our home and native land, and when they took the stage, set up their visuals, two triangle shaped projector screens, a lot of electronics, synth, and the guitar and bass, I knew it was going to be great. With only one album out, they hit pretty much every song on their tracklist and did an amazing cover of Tears For Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”  XO is the debut release, and even though the singer Ian Bevin has been making music for a while with drummer Kyle Statham, they’re now getting a ton of attention. They’ve been invited to play Sasquatch, SXSW, opened for Bloc Party and more. It’s easy to see why. Their set is incredibly tight (minus the crash symbol falling off repeatedly, and they took it in stride), Bevin’s falsetto voice hits a Bee Gees style high, and with their blend of world music influence, electronic and indie, these guys are going to go far. They had us jumping up and down collectively, the guitarist crowd surfed, the lead singer played bass in the crowd during the last song, it was rowdy. At the end of their set they threw free CDs out into the audience. +1000 bonus points.

Only downside: we were stuck beside this weird bro and ho that were holding each other tightly grinding and making out the entire time at the front. Really gross bro. He ended up being my anchor when I was jumping up and down, so not a total loss.

NXNE In Depth: Concert Positions/Stances Analysis

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

Best Coast, NXNE, June 17, 2010, The Great Hall

NXNE is over, by now, everyone has probably gone to anywhere from 15-45 shows over the course of the past week. Of course, Toronto Jazz Fest, Luminato, TURF, ALL CAPS and Riot Fest are all festivals happening over the next few months so guess what? Lots of shows to attend still. Of course, a struggle for everyone at the show is actually getting to a good point to where they are comfortable enough to fully absorb the show. So to this, I have decided to provide you with the first ever analysis of concert positions. Let’s go.



This is the most common concert position. You just stand there and watch the show. It’s usually the best option if you want a close/central view of the concert. It is probably the only option in a packed show.

Pros: By standing, you are most likely maximizing your viewing height. It also allows you to move easily and also, dance if you want to.

Cons: If you are old, then your back will start hurting after awhile. Your pure enjoyment from standing can be completely obliterated when a taller person stands in front of you, obscuring your view. You can always move to change this, but this is hard at a packed show. You have to hold whatever beverage you have in your hand. You have nowhere to put your jacket.


Forward Lean

The forward lean might just be my favorite concert position. Basically, you are either on a balcony or at the front against a rail and you can just lean forward. Either way, your view is probably wonderful because what the hell, there’s nothing in front of you. One of my favorite forward leaning places is in the vip area at the Filter Showcases at Cedar Courtyard at SXSW every year. Such a great forward lean.

Pros: Good back support, you can also switch the standing position if you want. Also, because you are leaning forwards you create additional space for yourself, giving you more breathing room. The view is probably pretty damn good too. You can also nap between sets. You can also put your jacket on the rails and there might be even a spot for your beverage.

Cons: Its hard to lean forward and dance at the same time, so you are restricted to head bobbing. If you are in the front part of the stage, you will most likely have to deal with annoying photographers who are constantly moving around all the time. If you are in an upper balcony because of VIP, then you will have to deal with the people beside you, who are most likely there to talk shop and not actually go to the shows. You will also get paranoid that people will try to take your space, because you know it’s a prime spot.


Side/back lean

This is usually reserved for people who want to see the show, but have the opportunity to remain comfortable. The side/back leans are always available at any venue, as you can just stand beside the wall. However, several venues have coveted pillars near the center of the stage that are super prime spots to get for a good side/back lean. The Horseshoe, Dakota and Sound Academy are such examples of these spots.

Pros: Once you find yourself alongside a wall or pillar, there are so many options – you can lean with your shoulder against the pillar, you can lean with your back against it, or you can even stand beside it. Either way, you know you can have a good buffet of options available to you whenever you want it. Also, you know that on at least one side of your body, there will be nobody there to bump into you, spill beer on you or get uncomfortably close.

Cons: The downside of getting such a prime spot is that you basically can’t go to the bathroom if you are at a show by yourself. Hell, even if you are with a friend, you risk losing this spot to them if you leave. You are basically stuck there. This feeling of entrapment can be a downfall for a long show, but you can always bring 2 flasks and piss into an adult diaper. Much like the forward-lean/guardrail/balcony position, you will always get overly defensive if you have this spot – giving mean stares to people approaching, taking an aggressive stance on anyone who starts to stand closer – it feels like you are an animal fending your den. Probably not the most attractive of traits. You are also screwed if someone taller stands in front of you in which you have to ask the age old question – comfort..or view?



Sometimes by choice, sometimes out of sheer laziness, sitting is always a mixed bag at shows.

Pros: You will always be well rested. You can buy popcorn and rest it on your leg. If everyone else is sitting, you have a good sight line. You have a place to put your jacket.

Cons: If the seats are uncomfortable (like Massey Hall’s gallery, which was surely designed for midgets), then you are screwed. If the show is an energetic one, and you want to get up and dance, you risk pissing off everyone else behind you. If it is a seated venue and you have assigned seating and your assigned seat sucks, its hard to move up.


Sitting on Floor

Sitting on floors is usually reserved for some artsy local acoustic show at random organic coffee shops or people singing without mics at really loud outdoor parks. It’s not a common concert position, but Toronto has seen it’s local scene flourish over the years and there are a lot of independently promoted shows of this nature. My friend Joe at Mechanical Forest Sound seems to go to all of them. I’ve been to a few.

Pros: When everyone sits on the floor together, it feels like a really communal experience, like at camp or the Betty Ford clinic. The sight lines are great and most likely the show is quite intimate, making it a unique experience. Sitting so close to the floor, you don’t have to hold your beer in your hand either, since you can just put it on the floor. Same with bags and jackets and stuff.

Cons: Sitting cross legged is nice for awhile, but eventually you want to shift positions or stretch out your legs and sometimes it’s so packed in these places you can’t really do that. In essence, you are stuck. I think for floor shows, I would like to sit like this:


A classic lounge position where you can stretch your legs or bend them as pleased. This really isn’t too ideal for this type of concert since I’m six feet tall so by sitting like this, I am effectively taking two spaces. Plus, it sometimes look like you aren’t really paying attention. Also, in this type of spots, you feel guilty standing up to go to the bathroom. Then you hold it in. Then you start doing calculations as to when the band will finish playing. This ruin your enjoyment.

These are the only ones I can think of, feel free to add!

NXNE Review: We Are Scientists, Blinker The Star, June 15, Yonge-Dundas square

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


It was a sunny Saturday afternoon during NXNE and because I couldn’t be bothered to get myself together in time for the Bruise Cruise featuring Mikal Cronin and others, I opted instead to check out some bands at Yonge & Dundas Square, the fest’s de facto main stage/advertising hub and the spot where all of the major free show take place. This evening’s headliners would be Billy Talent, and a few keeners were already there in the early afternoon as evidenced by all of the Billy Talent t-shirts I saw spread throughout the crowd. I’ve got to say though, none of them earned as much cred in my books as the guy I spotted wearing an Eddie Guerrero shirt.

When I arrived at the Square, New York’s We Are Scientists were already underway.  I wanted to check them out based on the fact that I kind of liked a couple of their songs from previous albums, “After Hours,” and “Nobody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt.”  They play a pretty catchy brand of power poppish indie rock that was certainly an enjoyable way to while away the afternoon.  They seem like pretty funny guys too, with bassist Chris Cain introducing one song as “a groover” before asking audience members to show through an “anonymous” show of hands who among them was in fact a groover. When singer Keith Murray pointed out that this was indeed far from anonymous, they went off into a tangent about whether or not groovers would be discriminated against.  Luckily the groovers would be safe from any persecution on this day.


Much like with We Are Scientists, I was interested in checking out Blinker The Star not on the merit of anything they were currently involved in, but simply based on nostalgia for their 1999 radio hit, “Below The Sliding Doors.” At the time, singer/guitarist Jordan Zadorozny and band gained some fame, with the band signing to Dreamworks and Zadorozny writing a bunch of songs with Courtney Love for the Celebrity Skin album. As it turns out, that nostalgia may have been a bit misguided, as other than vaguely recalling that song being on the radio a bit, and remembering the Courtney Love connection, I didn’t really ever care all that much for Blinker The Star. This is not to say they put on a bad show or anything; they certainly sounded alright, but the songs lacked the necessary oomph to really reel me in. Still, I did get to hear “Behind The Sliding Doors,” so that was alright. Maybe I would have appreciated it more if they had played Hole’s “Malibu.” I doubt that the band would have enjoyed that as much though.

NXNE Review: Black Marble, Boxer the Horse, Psyche Tongues, We are Wolves – Thursday, June 13th

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

Black Marble

Thursday was kind of a bust, minus a couple decent bands, it was drowned out by the amazing bands on Friday, which I will get to shortly.

The rainy night on Thursday prevented me from heading down to the Hoxton for the free booze Kobo party. Instead, I headed to BLK Box to see dark wave reincarnates Black Marble.

Black Marble at BLK BOX: Bands that are heavy on the synth, lacking a live band, are always a tricky thing. How will they translate live from their recordings? Will it work and be better than the packaged, pressed product, or will it end up muddled and bland? The two piece Black Marble’s sound is that of Joy Division mixed with Bauhaus, unfortunately, for me, their set just didn’t translate well live for me. The sound was too small for the moderately sized venue. If they added a live drummer, it would improve it tenfold. The sound was muddled, and the lead singer didn’t seem into what he was doing, perhaps there were technical issues beforehand, but this set, which was high on my list of anticipated acts, was a bit of a disappointment.

I then headed upstairs to check out a solo guitarist I couldn’t get down with, went back downstairs to one song by Cellphone, a local band whose sound I can only describe as “techno screech punch”, not my bag. So I headed off on an adventure which led me to…

Boxer the Horse

Boxer the Horse at the Arts & Crafts Pop Up:  These guys have been compared to the Kinks and early Pavement, but reminded me a bit of very early Weezer. From Prince Edward Island, they have released two albums and have an upbeat , really fun energy that they bring to their live set. Plagued with a few technical problems cutting into their set, which was to be foreseen as it’s just an art space, they kept the banter going, eventually having to borrow a patch cord from another band and then got on their way.

After  Boxer the Horse, I continued along on my walk and found myself at Wrongbar. I can’t remember the band that was up when I got there, but I wasn’t into it.

Psyche Tongues

Psyche Tongues at Wrongbar: These guys are a ton of fun to watch live. Their music is a type of psychedelic garage rock, and you could easily close your eyes, light up an herbal substance and feel like you’ve been transported to the 70’s. There were about 10 people in the audience, and the band, who may have been very intoxicated, took advantage of the full room. At one point the bassist took his tambourine and walked the full length of the bar and back.

We are Wolves

We Are Wolves at Wrongbar: We are Wolves have been around for quite a long while now. I saw them back in 2007, I believe it was, at Sneaky Dee’s right when Total Magique, their sophomore album had come out. It was a full house on the top floor, barely breathable and on the list of sweatiest dance parties I have ever attended. I don’t know if they fell off the radar or there was just a really big show I was missing that night, but there was about 50  people and no dancing at their set on Thursday. They brought the same energy as always, high voltage, the lead singer’s theatrical mannerisms, and the standing drummer without a kick drum , however there was just something missing. I think it was the lack of crowd participation. We are Wolves certainly haven’t lost their luster and didn’t falter once even with a less than participative crowd.

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