To borrow one of CBC Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence's pet taglines, Friday night at NXNE was truly a Pan-Canadian set, spanning bands from across the country beginning with...
|Lenny "WildWorks" Wu interviewing Grant Lawrence.|
Windsor's own The Unquiet Dead at the Cadillac Lounge-- You get a lot for your money with this band, and not just because they're a 10-piece. Although they have a short history together, individually they're talented and seasoned musicians. Fans of Windsor's music scene and beyond will recognize members from The Golden Hands Before God, Magic Hall of Mirrors, Two For The Cascade and Surdaster. The result is a fortuitous assembly with broad musical knowledge, and it shows in their psychedelic-infused folky rock.
Jeremy Fisher (Ottawa) at the Dakota Tavern-- We had arrived early for The Danks' show, and were very glad we did. It turned into one of those great NXNE moments, when you end up at a show you hadn't planned on and know you're seeing a top performance. We were familiar with Fisher of course from Radio 3, but didn't realize how much, as he delivered funny stage banter and song after song we knew and loved, especially "The Scar That Never Heals." By comparison...
PEI's The Danks-- were a disappointment. Except for two solid selections from their 2009 album, Who's Afraid of the Danks?, including "Sold Me Out," their set was shambling and more like a practice session. It would have been nice to see them take NXNE a little more seriously.
One of the tough things about festivals like NXNE is choosing between bands you've already seen and know will be great, and trying something new. We reluctantly bypassed Elephant Stone and Parlovr for...
The Provincial Archive at The Painted Lady-- There couldn't have been an odder pairing of band and venue at NXNE. We walked past the scantily dressed young woman gyrating on the bar to hear an earnest set of indie-folk from this cerebral Edmonton band, surrounded by posters of soft porn eye candy. The highlight for us, though, was meeting Ken Beattie of Killbeat Music, who handles publicity for some of the best in Canadian indie.
Brasstronaut at the Gladstone Hotel-- was the show we had been waiting for. In fact, we'd been waiting since 2010 to see Brasstronaut (Vancouver) again; their show at the Phog Lounge remains an all-time favourite. They did not disappoint. Their newest release Mean Sun is outstanding, and so was their performance of most of the album's progressive (and sometimes retro) alt-rock to a packed room. It's not just mean that Mean Sun was overlooked for this year's Polaris Prize, it's criminal.
Cobra & Vulture at the Cameron House-- inside the bizarre rabbit warren decorated with giant bugs that is the Cameron House, we closed out the night at 2 a.m. with Montreal's Cobra & Vulture. We were there to support drummer Jeremy MacCuish (Parlovr), but were more than intrigued by vocalists/guitarists Amber Goodwyn and Erin Ross. It will be interesting to see what this alt-rock band does in the future. For now, you get a free download of their two EPs on Bandcamp.
Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images