NXNE Review: Flaming Lips, The Deer Tracks, Life In Vacuum, June 16 (Yonge Dundas Square; Rivoli, Detour Bar)

Posted on by Brent in Everything, North By Northeast | 1 Comment

It seemed that everyone’s plans changed Saturday night following the stage collapse at Downsview Park that resulted in Radiohead’s drumtech dying and several others being injured. So many other options for a Saturday night were at their fingertips, most notably Luminato and the NXNE shows that started earlier in the day at Yonge-Dundas Square.I arrived and caught the end of the of Montreal set. This was when I met up with several friends as well as several thousand strangers which made it slightly uncomfortable and at times claustrophobic. As well, it didn’t help that the Flaming Lips set started a half-hour late. I’m getting old. Balloons, confetti, ten-minute drawn out versions of crowd favourites, but a nice tribute/cover of Radiohead’s”Knives Out” though. A video of this can be found here. The Saturday night shows at Yonge-Dundas Square were filled with a mix of emotions because of what happened just a few hours prior. It was also filled with disorganization, cheesy MC-introductions, colourful bouncing balloons and just too many people. Most being people that had seemingly never been around other people before. Picture someone walking on the Tokyo subway on Monday morning with no shirt on and a hot pot of coffee.

Round two was to get out of there and make our way down Yonge and across Queen street. This allowed us to pass what seemed like several hundreds standing around staring at an empty stage with bright lights in preparation for the MMVAs the following night. People never fail to surprise me. By the time we made it to the Rivoli two-piece Swedish outfit The Deer Tracks were just finishing up.

I headed up to Kensington to catch Life in Vacuum at Detour Bar. Small, cramped and sadly no Kensington punks. Life in Vacuum (only one ‘c’) are a three-piece metal/punk band with groovey distorted bass. They’re from Waterloo and whenever I hear of bands from there I just assume they play math-rock which makes me a math-icist and I’m totally comfortable with this. Three white kids from the burbs that are passionate about their music. Loud and earplug-friendly. Great ‘stache on the bassist too.

NXNE Review: Daughn Gibson, June 16, Wrongbar

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

Daughn Gibson is an odd duck. Based out of Pennsylvania, Gibson boasts a country sound mixed with electronics. Apparently taking stories from people around town and converting them into song, there were moments when I was really laughing out loud, and I hope I was supposed to be. There was a bit of what seemed like improv added to the end and pieces of songs where he spoke. At one point he said “We’re going to go down to Food Lion to pick up a sandwich and watch a video, Little Monsters”. Gibson was a former truck driver, and still works for a company as an HR representative. Playing in punk and metal bands throughout his teen years as a drummer, Gibson has been adept at music since a young age. Now 31, he is foraying into a strange world of electro-cowboy as I will call it, with Nick Cave type vocals. Speaking like Elvis between songs, one has to wonder if that was part character as well (since the sound guy told me Gibson was speaking to him in a British accent during set up). Definitely worth seeing at least once to make your own judgments, Daughn Gibson is an interesting outfit, sometimes funny, but certainly captivating.

NXNE Review: Dirty Mags, June 16, Wrongbar

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

Dirty Mags

Saturday night of NXNE is a tough one, where to start, what to see, what you’re willing to sacrifice and miss. Instead of going with a tried and true band that I liked and had seen, or wanted to see, I used this festival for what it is, a place to catch new, upcoming talents that the world should know about. Also I wanted to be close enough to my house that I could pre-drink between acts. I also should have been at the Radiohead show with half of Toronto at that time, but we all know how that turned out, terrible tragedy. So after scouring the lists of venues near my house, Wrongbar looked like the best bet since Doldrums were playing (who I missed to run and catch Young Liars, coming to a review near you). This is where  my mind was blown by Dirty Mags for the first time.

Dirty Mags are a 4 piece local Toronto band, that have been around for a couple of years. They draw on many different influences; the closest genre description you can give them is a punk, garage rock outfit, but their influences go far beyond that. You can hear a lot of heavy 90’s grunge riffs in Justin Lemaire’s guitar playing, and also in vocalist Mike Kaminski’s long screechy drones (fantastic vocalist by the way, he has some far ranging chords on him). There were definitely times where you can hear some dark wave 80’s influences as well, giving Dirty Mags a well rounded sound all their own. Dirty Mags create a dark and heavy atmosphere with their music. It engulfs and entrances you so that you are lost in it with them. Definitely a band I will be scouring facebook events for in the future.

NXNE Review: Oberhofer, Of Montreal, Portugal The Man, June 16, Yonge Dundas Square

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

Saturday night’s show at Yonge Dundas Square was definitely one of the most hyped of all of NXNE. While the two bands i was most interested in seeing were both ones i had seen just over a year ago, both Of Montreal and The Flaming Lips put on solid, entertaining shows, so it’s pretty hard to pass them up. I arrived early to check out Oberhofer, a band I had heard some hype on and was curious to check out. I don’t actually have much to say about Oberhofer’s set, so I’ll steal a page out of IKvsDK‘s playbook and just post what other people said on twitter. Let’s start with the man himself:

@IKvsDK Oberhofer is quite entertaining #nxne

OK, fair enough, the band played some decent, catchy indie rock, and I was somewhat entertained by frontman Brad Oberhofer’s stage antics and numerous “Woo’s” into the mic, but while they were good, I wasn’t overly impressed. I think this tweet says it best:

@leahbobet The Oberhofer set, we decide, is neither offensive nor exceptional. It’s a band. It’s there. #NXNE

After Oberhofer’s set, I was primed for Of Montreal’s trademark wackiness. It was a typically solid performance with colourful stagewear on the band’s part, people in pig masks crowd surfing, staged wrestling matches, and a guy who was briefly dressed as the god Pan I think. Fun times. I can only imagine what the guys preaching on the corner across the street made of the shenanigans. The party’s crashing us now, indeed.

Logically, the one-two punch of Of Montreal and The Flaming Lips back to back would have been a no brainer, but whoever scheduled this thing decided to slot Portugal The Man between those two made a bit of a miscalculation in my humble opinion. The Portland rockers started out promising enough, but that early promise shortly turned to “meh” as their set went on. Singer John Baldwin Gourley’s got a strong, bluesy voice, and the band was talented enough, but their set was a bit of a one note performance to me, much of it seeming a bit samey after awhile. I appreciated their cover of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter,” but when they ended their set with the coda to “Hey Jude,” I found it to be veering on the edge of shameless crowd pandering. Two Beatles songs? Come on. While there was nothing wrong with their performance, they bored me a little bit. Then again, when sandwiched between two such colourful bands, it’s a little hard to really match that.