NXNE Review: Kate Tempest, June 17, Adelaide Hall

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

Kate Tempest

I’ll never get tired of watching Kate Tempest slay the crowd. For the uninitiated, it can’t be anything but a revelation. While most hip hop artists have hype men or a DJ shouting out instructions to the crowd, Kate Tempest is the sole voice on stage.

Her NXNE showcase started with The Beigeness, perhaps her most famous track. From the first note of the opening track, she has your attention. Delivering razor sharp lyrics with frantic, yet laser like precision against a pulsating beat, it’s one of the shows where you feel the energy build through the crowd and it’s great.

As someone who has seen her before, it’s exciting to see the crowd go through the same stages you went through. First you are like, “let’s see what this hype artist is all about”. Followed by “.. Whoa she is good”, and then “this is actually really fucking good” and ending with “now what?” Those are pretty much the moments you live for when you go to a music festival and Kate Tempest delivers that in spades. Now that the first chapter of her career has completed (this was the last show on her whirlwind tour), it will be very interesting to see where she goes from here.

NXNE Review: Mardeen, June 18, Handlebar

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


Like many bands from the east coast, Cape Breton’s Mardeen display an affinity for crunchy guitars and strong melodies. It’s not a sound that’s necessarily unique to the region, but they do seem to do it so well out east. Fittingly, the band was taking part in the Halifax Pop Explosion showcase on Thursday night, on a bill which also featured The Wayo, Glory Glory, Walrus, and Vogue Dots.

The band took to the smallish stage at Handlebar and played to a fairly packed room, impressing with their melodic, poppy songcraft. Singer/bassist Matt Ellis introduced the song “DC Fan” with a speech about the existence of heroes in our world, whether it be the larger than life legends or those whose contributions take the form of simpler, more direct acts of kindness. They ended out their set with “Silver Fang,” the driving title track off their latest EP, which Ellis prefaced with a warning of sorts: “This one’ll haunt you in your dreams.” As songs go, it’s a little too upbeat to really be terribly haunting, though I will admit that the tune was stuck in my head for the rest of the night.

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.