NXNE Review: Criminal Hygiene, Sneaky Dee’s; Idgy Dean, Baltic Avenue, June 21

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criminal hygiene

The bio for Criminal Hygiene makes reference to the Replacements and the comparison does hold up, not just in the band’s melodic yet raw tunes, but in their onstage demeanor as well.  The band admitted that they had been drinking since 3:00 that afternoon (very ‘Mats) and that their earlier afternoon set at Yonge Dundas Square was the more professional sounding one.  I say professionalism be damned – their midnight set at Sneaky Dee’s was a bit sloppy, yes, but perhaps all the more fun because of it.

“We got stuff for you to buy … but you won’t … but it’s there if you want.” The band was being realistic about life at one of these music festivals and showing a good sense of humour about it all, but they had a merch table set up pretty much in front of the stage just so you wouldn’t miss it in case you wanted something.  I was slightly tempted, but wasn’t about to carry a 7 inch around with me for the rest of the night.

Their sense of humour was further on display in some of their other stage banter, with lines like,”We have a 5 year plan and that’s for you to never listen to us again” and a random shout out to the recently elected Han Dong (“Vote Han Dong.  I can’t stress that enough.”).  They ended off their set by announcing that they had two more songs, both originals, then followed that up with a cover of KISS’s “Love Gun.”  Yup, these guys are definitely Replacements fans.


Earlier in the night, I saw a very different set by an equally engaging artist, Brooklyn’s Idgy Dean aka Lindsay Sanwald.  A solo artist, Sanwald fills out the sound by laying down the drums and guitar and sampling them live.  The solo artist who performs everything live and then loops it has almost become a cliche at this point, but that doesn’t make it any less of a joy to watch when its done well.  Idgy Dean may not be reinventing the wheel but she’s putting that previously invented wheel to good use. There were maybe only a dozen or so at her show but most were dancing including the performer herself.

NXNE Review: Goat, June 20, Lee’s Palace

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A goat is an animal that’s often associated with the idea of ritual sacrifice, which is fitting since after watching swedish psych band Goat in concert I felt like I was involved in some strange kind of ceremony. One in which the band’s heavy, funky psychedelia acts as an invocation to some ancient, forgotten deity who also likes to party at Mardi Gras every now and then.

The enigmatic Swedes claim to hail from Korpilombolo, which, according to the band’s mythology, has a history of voodoo practice. The band definitely plays up the mystical vibe in their live performance, with all of the band members wearing costumes of some sort and the two masked female vocalists singing mostly in unison and dancing about the stage.

After leaving the stage just before 1:00, the band responded to the chants of “Goat!” and came out for an encore. That’s pretty rare at these sort of things. The two singers left the stage when they were finished their part and the band played an extended jam to finish it off. After seeing Swans and Spiritualized earlier in the night, I was eager to see them them take it further in that direction and turn it into a 20 minute opus but they were over time already and Pissed Jeans did have to go on still.

Despite the constraints of festival set times, the band still put on  a completely entertaining show with the time they had.  Definitely one of the more memorable sets of NXNE.

NXNE Review: Pissed Jeans, June 19 ,The Mod Club

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Pissed Jeans

What the NXNE Press Guide said about Pissed Jeans:

Age and a total of four full-lengths haven’t mellowed Pissed Jeans; they can still unleash a blare that will exfoliate your cochlea. Sometimes they sound like that feeling you’d get if you dipped your arm up to the elbow in a vat of boiling grease. Sometimes they slow down and they sound like when you wake up from a nightmare you can’t quite remember. They are also catchy. Not in a simpering, mewling way that your grandmother might appreciate, but in a way that would appeal to mental patients who only understand colours. 

Pissed Jeans came on stage and singer Matt Korvette sarcastically let the crowd know:

“We’ve actually changed our name so you might want to update that on your blogs. We’re now known as Virgin Mobile Pissed Jeans.”

Their live shows are something to be admired by other amateur acts at NXNE with the frantic pace of a hardcore show led by Korvette’s flailing arms and menacing stage-pacing. Experienced musicians are appreciated after seeing so many newer bands that can’t necessarily command a stage to that of a band like Pissed Jeans. This made for a crowd that was much more receptive than most shows I attended last week. Korvette’s banter also helped:

“You can’t play in front of a Toronto crowd and lie about your dick size. That’s rule number one.” Whatever that means.


“I’m trying this new thing where you eat a burrito before you play. So far, it’s fucking great.”

Some of the more enthusiastic members of the audience were slamming in front for several songs. They were led by a kid wearing a Misfits jacket with way too much energy.

Pissed Jeans lived up to their reputation as an aggressive, fast-paced and experienced hardcore band.

NXNE Review: The Pizza Underground, June 20, Edward Day Gallery

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Let me make one thing clear right off the bat: I mostly came for the free pizza.

In town for a few shows at NXNE, The Pizza Underground were playing their third set of the fest, a late morning/early afternoon set at The Edward Day Gallery, one of the main selling points of which was, yes, the free pizza. For those not in the know (though I’m not sure who that would be at this point), The Pizza Underground plays versions of Velvet Underground songs with the lyrics changed to be all about pizza. And they make a ton of bad pizza related jokes during their set. Oh, and that guy from the Home Alone movies is in the band too.  No, not Daniel Stern.

“Now you know what we do. I hope you weren’t expecting more,” said the band a couple of songs into their set.  It’s true, they’ve pretty much just got the one joke, but at least they’re self aware (and self-depricating) enough to acknowledge that they’re a one trick pony.

Having seen the band play once before already, I knew what I was getting into and I knew that the joke wears thin (crust) after a bit. And so, in keeping with the old saying, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” there I was, bright and early on a Friday morning to see it all over again. Their jokes may not have changed since I saw the band at SXSW, but their profile has risen a bit thanks to that infamous UK show where the band had pints tossed at them and were booed off the stage by an unimpressed crowd. The band, to their credit, made reference to that incident with a pretty good joke. Singer/pizza box percussionist Phoebe Kreutz commented on how nice it was to be playing a pizza box with a maple leaf on it. “It makes me feel so safe. It’s like when George W. Bush was president and you’d go backpacking through Europe with a maple leaf pin on so people don’t beat you up. We could have used that in England.”