The Ultimate NXNE Preview Preview

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WARRIORS! Today, we stand before you at the precipice of one of Toronto’s most prestigious festival. NXNE!

How should you prepare?
Should you jump off the tallest building in the world?
Should you lie on the lawn and let them run over you with lawnmowers?
Or, should you go to Africa and let them trample you with raging elephants?


You read this preview in ONE HOUR!

NXNE Review: Lucius, Adelaide Hall, June 18

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


There was one point during the NXNE showcase on Thursday night when a girl decided to showcase her voice by doing that Mariah Carey hand thing where her hand would go up and down according to the note, to which I turned to my friend and said “does she know Lucius is playing tonight?”. The reason why I said this was because I’m pretty sure the girls in Lucius were brought into this world specifically to sing and harmonize. Each time I see them, I become more and more convinced of this argument. They are fantastic at what they do.

Lucius is a group from Brooklyn whose excellent 2014 album exhibited music styles from doo wop to surf pop to indie. The band loves to harmonize and they love percussion (all five members have at least a drum near them). Their live show is an accentuation of all those things and it is highly enjoyable. Some bands try to hit you with cool, some bands try to hit you with style but Lucius just hits you with unbridled enthusiasm and its devastatingly contagious. Their slow burning version of the track “Go Home” with its sparse drumming and spaced out vocals was good enough to shut up the Red Bull crowd, no small feat in itself. Highlight for me as always is Tempest, a pop song as good as any to have been released in the past few years.

One of the highlights of NXNE for me

NXNE Review: Foxtrott, Lobby, Cathedrals, San Fermin

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Foxtrott at NXNE

This year’s NXNE was a bit of a landmark for me. NXNE has always landed on my birthday and this year was no exception. only this year I turned 35. Once you realize you are closer to 40 then 30, a few things change. one of them is laziness. I’m now more okay with being lazy then ever before, and so the prospect of spending the entire night at Adelaide Hall was appealing to me. Why show hop? I got bands here all night, so I decided to take up residence at one venue all night. Here are the bands I saw.

Foxtrott, 9pm – I saw Foxtrott last year and I was mesmerized with their use of the French horn. This year was no different. The French Horn rules. 2015’s version of Foxtrott saw the addition of a drummer to Marie-Helene Delorme and the girl on the French Horn, an addition which added decidedly more punch to the group’s late night electronic atmospheric tunes. Their album drops November and I’m definitely interested to see how their live music translates onto a record.

Here’s where things fall a bit off the cliff. As a veteran festival attendee, nothing drives me more crazy then band’s that take long to setup. I mean, c’mon man, you know you have roughly twenty minutes to set up and have a forty minute set. Music festival slot times are about the only thing that’s standardize in the music industry and seemingly, bands or venues fail to adhere to this one simple rule repeatedly. It’s no wonder sometimes, how the music industry has failed.

Anyways, I’m not sure who to blame, but Toronto group Lobby started later then expected.

Lobby, 10:20ish– Perhaps it was the late start or I’m a cranky old man, but Lobby did not do much to impress me. I think they were aiming for early 2000s era dark pop Interpol meets The Bravery meets the Organ sound or something. The music didn’t sound terribly bad. The vocals however, sounded more suitable for shoegaze tracks (it might have worked if the vocals were also accompanied by a loud swath of guitar and reverb). The band did dress the part though, so points for appearances.

Maybe it was because Lobby took so long to set up, but the next band, Cathedrals, took even longer to set up. Me and Thierry theorized it was because they were West Coast bands and west coast people are generally more chilled about things like this because they have a wonderful coastline and mountains (think Best Coast’s The Only Place). Meanwhile we here are stuck in bitter cold winters and concert jungles.

Cathedrals, 11:35: I seriously thought Cathedrals were going to play for five minutes. However, I guess someone took pity on the group because they played a good chunk of their set. Officially known as a duo, Cathedrals played the set as a four piece. Brodie Jenkins had a strong stage presence and sang each song with much gusto. Her dance moves were mesmerizing and felt like a cross between a yoga instructor and someone who spent too much time at Burning Man. The group’s electro pop seems heavily influenced by 90’s R&B, which is never a bad thing.

San Fermin, NXNE

San Fermin, 12:45: Arguably one of the co-headliners for the night, San Fermin is a band many of our dedicated Panic Manual readers will be familiar with. The group’s outstanding debut record has been covered extensively here and once again, the band played a solid show despite some technical difficulties.

One of San Fermin’s greatest strengths is the dynamic contrast between the band’s singers, yet the mic levels were way off for the show. Despite the obvious mixing problems, the band and it’s many members did not allow that to stop them from playing a solid show.

As I expected, the crowd dug the group. Their live show is really a great example of how a lot of musicians, when they are on the same page can create something truly lovely (it does sound kinda messy when they aren’t). The horn section once again stole the crowd with their intensity and their wandering ways. I really wished Lucius came out to sing Sonsick, but they did not. Still, that track is one of the best tracks from the past few years. Either way, I am sure San Fermin left the show with a few new fans.

NXNE Review: Sista Fista, June 18, Coalition

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When you make the decision to go see a band called Sista Fista, you kind of go in knowing what you’re going to get. There are no expectations of anything nuanced or particularly classy, especially when the words “raunchy” and “vulgar’ have been used to describe them. So I had no misconceptions going in and the band managed to live up (down?) to my expectations when they opened their set up with a song called “Fist Fight Fuck.” Another actual song title that this band actually wrote: “Goldie Lox 3 Bears 1 Cup”

Sista Fista’s lyrical content and stage banter was full of crude sexual humour, sometimes delving into scatalogical areas and often crossing the boundaries of good taste. Despite the puerile nature of their jokes, I found myself enjoying it all for the most part, though there were a few cringeworthy moments.

Musically, the band delivered some straightforward melodic punk that matched up well with their chosen subject matter. The band made the most of their late night set (as part of the Toronto Pride showcase) playing to a somewhat sparse crowd in a room full of couches, including one which was strangely close to the front of the stage. “You’ve all been upgraded to VIP!” announced the band. They then they asked why no one was sitting and when they were informed that the couch was wet, they naturally responded, “Of course it’s wet. VIP at a Sista Fista show? What did you expect?”