NXNE 2012, Day One (Jun. 13): meets, greets and beats

We hadn't been in the city 24 hours before we'd made a new friend from Germany, enjoyed a conversation with a double amputee panhandler, hugged countless CBC Radio 3 blogger friends and heard three great bands.

Hello, NXNE 2012.

Our first trip to the band buffet was for Ottawa's Loon Choir, whose members include Radio 3 blogger kidcauley on violin. Despite the fact that they started off their set with "Nowhere to Go," from their just-released album Fire Poems,we think this band is definitely going somewhere good. Their lively art pop/rock reminded us of a double layer cake: two violinists, two guitarists, two keyboardists (on a Yamaha and a Korg), frosted in the middle by bass and drums and on the outside by main vocalists Derek Atkinson (who delivers lyrics with the intensity of a Baptist preacher) and Nicole Yates. Loon Choir is no boxed mix-- they are a from-scratch gourmet treat. Our pick for song most likely to be a hit single from Fire Poems? "Bison."

We caught up with Fernie, B.C.'s Shred Kelly next,  fresh off traveling across Canada with Tracks on Tracks. One of our top shows from 2011, we've been telling everyone about them ever since, and pretty much everyone who got to hear their "stoke folk" either on the train or at the Tracks on Tracks showcase earlier that evening, told us what we already knew: they are a rollicking good time. They played a few songs off of their new album, due out next month, and they're just as stoked as Goodbye July. We'll be saying hello to them in mid-July when they return to Windsor's Phog Lounge.

It's always a scramble for bands with only 20 minutes between sets, and, well, shit happens. Unfortunately it happened to Saskatoon's We Were Lovers, the charming and talented  duo of Elsa Gebremichael and Ash Lamothe. After two false starts of one of their most popular songs, "Partners in Crime," a monitor overload left Gebremichael with less volume than she liked. It bothered her more than us; We Were Lovers still managed a solid set of electronic dance/pop, and Gebremichael's voice still soared, both reasons we were happy to have the opportunity to see them again after their show in 2010 at the Phog.

Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images