The Seven Year Ditch: Our Year in Review

For seven years, our musical calendar revolved around three signature Canadian indie events:  NXNE in Toronto, Home County in London and Phog Phest in Windsor.

This year we forgot to make hotel reservations in time for NXNE, attended the family Christmas in July instead of Home County, and Phog Phest went on hiatus (we hope it's just a hiatus).

That doesn't mean 2017 was a bust. By all accounts is was a BABOOM, notable for seeing bands we've never seen in places we've never been. Here are the highlights.

Oh, Alberta: Our excuse for forgetting NXNE hotel reservations? We were busy making plane reservations, beginning with a trip to Edmonton in March to see The Wheat Pool's five year reunion show. Yes, we love that band that much, and it was worth every pen-- er, nickel. We had a great time hiking around the city and seeing the new Rogers Arena, CKUA, the Legislature grounds and the High Level Bridge.

The Wheat Pool

The Wheat Pool

The Wheat Pool

The Wheat Pool

Vancouver is Awesome: We suffered a lot of ROMO when we couldn't go to the legendary 924 Gilman's 30th anniversary celebration, which included a Smugglers reunion. So when a second reunion show in Vancouver to launch Smugglers' frontman and CBC radio host Grant Lawrence's new book Dirty Windshields was announced, we made more plane reservations. We flew in on a Thursday afternoon and left Sunday morning. In between we:
  • Checked in to the Sylvia Hotel on English Bay
  • Had a great dinner with R3 friends
  • Had a great breakfast the next morning with an R3 friend
  • Biked around Stanley Park 
N2D

Left to right: Larry Livermore, Nardwuar, S2W




  • Attended the welcome party at WHAT'S UP? HOT DOG in East Van, with more R3 friends, met Nardwuar the Human Serviette and secretly swooned over sitting in the same booth as Lisa Marr from Cub
  • Visited the Vancouver Aquarium
  • Saw The Smugglers, Chixdiggit, Needles//Pins and The Muffs at The Commodore Ballroom 
Grant Lawrence
Author
Raconteur 

Chixdiggit 
Chixdiggit 



Chixdiggit 

Chixdiggit
The Muffs

The Muffs

The Muffs

The Muffs





The Smugglers

The Smugglers

The Smugglers

The Smugglers

The Smugglers

The Smugglers

The Smugglers

After the diploma: We were proud parents seeing the youngest kid cross the stage as co-valedictorian in June. We were happy campers at Phog Lounge a few weeks later seeing a fantastic Bry Webb (lead singer of The Constantines) for the first time. It was also our first time seeing someone-- Ben Grossman-- play the hurdy gurdy. Amazing.

Bry Webb

Take me to the river: We've seen METZ and Preoccupations before... but not on a boat! So we were among about 1,000 people who boarded the Detroit Princess Riverboat for Detroit's Protomartyr record release show. Coincidentally, METZ' outstanding latest album, Strange Peace was released the same day. The sound in the ballroom wasn't ideal for Preoccupations but perfect for METZ' blistering set.
Detroit Princess

More new faces and places: Out of the six shows that wrapped up our year, five were headlined by bands we've been waiting a long time to see.

Half were at tried and true venues:
  • Broken Social Scene at The Fillmore Detroit - Hug of thunder, indeed. 
Broken Social Scene

  • Japandroids at Majestic Theatre - Only Rich Aucoin is more uplifting than this duo's aptly-named celebration rock. 
Japandroids

  • The Dears at Phog Lounge - N2D's top show of the year. It felt like an arena show in a 75-person venue. We recommend checking out opener Lou Canon if you have the chance, too. 
Lou Canon

The Dears

The Dears

Half were at venues we were long overdue to check out.

The Elwins at Marble Bar: We heard it's hard to see the band because the stage is so low. But we didn't have to worry about seeing The Elwins sing "So Down Low." The bar was nearly as empty as the shell-shocked neighbourhood around it. But we liked the Marble and love The Elwins' earnest pop.

The Elwins


Do Make Say Think at El Club: This venue is making our Canadian indie dreams come true. Stubborn Persistent Illusions is one of our top albums of 2017, and we still can't believe we got to hear some of it live in Detroit. Another top show of the year. We also saw Chad VanGaalen at El Club the week before, and can't wait until April for Kid Koala.


Do Make Say Think

Chad VanGaalen

 Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images