NXNE 2013: Day One

Just when you think you've got NXNE figured out, it throws you a curve ball.

After three years of traffic on the Gardiner that added nearly an hour onto our drive in, we breezed to the Grange Hotel in record time. That meant a leisurely walk instead of mad dash downtown to grab our passes and meet up for the first CBC Radio 3 listener/blogger festival of hugs and a raucous tour redux of Steam Whistle Brewing. Special props to our guide Vicky for putting up with us (What? We were only supposed to pull the steam whistle once?) and for Steam Whistle for hosting us again.

We officially kicked off NXNE with dinner at Sneaky Dee's (see our note below) followed by a healthy dose of hip hop and rap from Wordburglar (not Wordbugler, Woodburglar or any of the other goofy misspellings he endures) and D-Sisive. "I'm like a toy company with rhymes, a Hasbro" Wordburglar introduced himself. Far from a has-been, with More or Les at the turntablesWordburglar polled the audience with questions and then stole their answers for some great freestyle rap. It was "Rhyme O'Clock" when he closed the set with More or Les and left us "Sufficiently Saphonsified."

D-Sisive has threatened to hang up his toque more than once. We're sure glad he hasn't... yet. He was in fine form with his partner in rhyme Muneshine and DJ Tek 12 as they rapped through favourites like "If...", "To The Moon" and sampled "No More Words." If this is D-Sisive in retirement, we're okay with it.

We left Sneaky Dee's for The Great Hall to see Coeur de Pirate and encountered another NXNE first: rain. We never could grab a streetcar and underestimated the walk. By the time we arrived, a band of bloggers were leaving. "She's lovely," noted blogger dawn.h, but loyalties run strong on Radio 3, so we followed the crew to catch the end of Loon Choir's set. This Ottawa band just keep getting better since we first saw them last year at NXNE (and two Windsor shows in between).

If there was a lyrical theme for NXNE 2013, it was wolves. We're not sure what fascination wolves hold for singer-songwriters, but the word kept cropping up in lyrics throughout the weekend. And without a doubt, Montreal's We Are Wolves at Wrongbar fascinated us. With Vincent Lévesque at the keys, we couldn't take our ears off their pop-punk, including "Night" from their latest album La Mort Pop Club and "Paloma." We couldn't take our eyes off them, either: lead singer Alexander Ortiz' facial and oral antics (licking the mic? wow) or drummer Pierre-Luc Begin's hyperactive drumming in a shredded piece of cloth that barely qualified as a t-shirt. A top show that night, did NXNE peak early? Stay tuned.

Best meal deal in Toronto: We think it's the Jalisco combo at Sneaky Dee's. For $10.75, you get one robust taco and one enchilda (beef, chicken or veggie), rice, frijoles and en salada. Order two, and if you don't add on a margarita (sorry, Sneak's, not nearly as good as the one we had last time), a beer, and sour cream and guacamole sides, your bill won't be $50 with tip.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images

Show Alert: Mac DeMarco

Sat., Jun. 29
Blind Pig ~ Ann Arbor
w/ Radiant Marks

 The only thing for biographical info on his Radio 3 profile is Jizz Jazz. On his Facebook page, posts begin with "Hello Curly Wig," "Hello Pee Pee," and "Ah, wasserp." His music has been described as off-kilter pop. Target used one of his songs in a commercial. And his 2012 album Mac DeMarco 2 has been long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize.

And he's only 23.

Yes, Mac DeMarco will be "Freaking Out The Neighborhood" this Saturday, and we'll be there.

Making a list and checking it twice... the 2013 Polaris Long List

It's quiet around here. Too quiet.

The Polaris Music Prize is usually a sure-fire conversation starter among lovers of Canadian indie (and not-so-indie) and in CBC Radio 3 land. But this year's long list announcement seems to have come and gone with little debate. Could it be-- gasp-- that people actually agree with the list?

For the most part, we stay out of campaigning for bands to win. You can't just say, "I love that band, their album is my favourite, so they should win." That's not what Polaris is about. And unless you listen to every album, how can you make an informed decision?

But looking it over, it really is a great list this year. There's lots of Radio 3 talent, just plain talent, and a satisfying amount of diversity: Colin Stetson, METZ, A Tribe Called Red and best of all, artists we've never heard of waiting to be discovered.

So here's the long list. Let us know: do you agree?

By the way, our friends over at NxEW have already announced the Shadow Polaris. Stop by and vote. The results are always interesting and unlike the name, rarely shadow the actual winners.

N2D Show Alert: Shooting Guns Pre - NXNE @ Phog

You may remember that "Shooting Guns - Cheater's Justice" was the soundtrack for  #R3NXNE2012. What. A. Blast! 
Catch Shooting Guns @ Hideout
Friday, June 14  10 PM 

S2W @NXNE Pick: Don't Miss!

Thursday, June 13
Hard Luck Bar

If you want to park it at ONE venue, we think this is right up your alley. 

Where N2DS2W will be at NXNE 2013

Something old, something new, something tomorrow and something at 2:00... that about sums up our music schedule for NXNE 2013. While we always make seeing bands we haven't seen before a priority, it's tough to pass up friends and those that never disappoint. So here's where we're planning to be. Bands with a * we've never seen before. We have a few suggestions for you, too. Also, keep checking the NXNE schedule; they're still adding bands.

Thurs., Jun. 13

Live in Bellwoods (4 - 7 p.m.): We're hoping to catch Maylee Todd; other artists scheduled to play include Kalle Matson and Olenka & The Autumn Lovers. Be sure to see the lineups for the rest of NXNE.

8:00 p.m.: *Inlet Sound, Cameron House, 408 Queen (near Spadina).
Tip: if folk rock isn't your thing but Broken Social Scene is, Brendan Canning plays The Hoxton at the same time.

9:00 p.m.: *Wordburglar, Sneaky Dee's, 431 College at Bathurst.
We also recommend: Loon Choir at the Drake Hotel, Shred Kelly at the Supermarket and Stella Ella Ola at the Silver Dollar.

10:00 p.m.: D-Sisive, Sneaky Dee's.
Tip: Fellow R3 bloggers can't stop talking about the fun garage rock of The Mouthbreathers, playing at 9:45 at the Gladstone. They're in Detroit Jul. 17.

11:00 p.m.: *Coeur de Pirate, The Great Hall, 1087 Queen (near Ossington).
Tip: NXNE 2011 buzz band BRAIDS plays the Comfort Zone.

12:00 a.m.: *We Are Wolves, Wrongbar, 1279 Queen (west of Dufferin).

Fri., Jun. 14

7:00 p.m.By Divine Right, St. James Gazebo; regrettably, we can't attend this show due to a previous commitment, but we can't recommend it enough. We saw BDR in February (show review here), and it's still a top show of the year. Their new album is amazing.

8:00 p.m.: *Wildlife, Mod Club Theatre, 722 College (just east of Ossington).
Tip: There's been some buzz about AroarA, playing the Silver Dollar.

9:00 p.m.: *The Crackling, Supermarket, 268 Augusta (off College between Spadina and Bathurst).
Tip: Imaginary Cities follows Wildlife at the Mod Club.

10:00 p.m.: *Pat LePoidevin, Free Times Cafe, 320 College (between Spadina and Bathurst). One word: FIII-YER.
Tip: We thought we'd have a tough decision as Shooting Guns is at the Hideout at the same time, but they're playing the Phog Lounge three days before. Win!

11:00 p.m.: *Pick a Piper, Comfort Zone, 480 Spadina (near College).
Help us decide: Superfriendz at The Great Hall instead?

12:00 a.m.: Sloan, The Great Hall, 1087 Queen (near Ossington).
 Help us decide: Should we give The Danks another chance at The Hideout?

1:00 a.m.: *Odonis Odonis, The Garrison, 1197 Dundas (near Ossington).
Tip: The Luyas will be at Sneaky Dee's.

2:00 a.m.: We Are The City, The Rivoli, 332 Queen (near Spadina). We hope we can stay awake, because we love this band.

Sat., Jun.15

9:00 p.m.: Gregory Pepper & His Problems, The Silver Dollar, 486 Spadina (near College). N2DS2W was barely two weeks old when we first saw Gregory Pepper.
Tip: There's a great lineup at The Danforth Music Hall: Northcote, Paper Lions, Dinosaur Bones and Wintersleep.

10:00 p.m.: *Beliefs, The Garrison, 1197 Dundas (near Ossington).
 Help us decide: Should we stick around at the Silver Dollar for Michael Rault instead?
Tip: Boxer the Horse at Sneaky Dee's; one of our top shows from NXNE 2012.

11:00 p.m.: Dusted, The Garrison, 1197 Dundas (near Ossington). Worth a second show.

12:00 a.m.: *Del Bel, Creatures Creating, 822 Dundas (just west of Bathurst).

1:00 a.m.: *Hot Panda, Sneaky Dee's, 431 College at Bathurst. THE show we're most looking forward to at NXNE this year.
Tip: Pretty sure everyone else will be at Fucked Up at the 'Shoe.