So Toronto’s NXNE is the sister festival to Austin’s SXSW. It’s the same concept (music, film etc), except Toronto has less drunken rednecks and more healthy-looking Canadians. The best part about NXNE is that Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor allows bars and venues to close @ 4 a.m. during festivals, meaning more bands, more afterparties, more spending and more blackouts. Let’s just say the drug business is booming. Smart…
I pillaged the city from venue to venue & must say, the surprise venue of the year was the legendary Horseshit Tavern. This club has a walk-up window for A&W takeout, so instead of grabbing a drink while watching a band, you can grab a burger just like that. I REALLY enjoyed that, ’cause I maintained this raunchy, beefy onion breath that made people avoid talking to me while watching bands I liked.
Highlights of Day 1.5:
Featuring Caila, formerly of Think About Life. These gals got the party started on opening night. Electro, dance-y and soulful. I can see why critics would wanna compare her to Grimes, except Caila can hit notes that Grimes will never hit. If you’ve had a couple of drinks, they totally give off that Viagra sensation.
Evan’s the dude from the Lemonheads. His shows are boring, but I keep going to them ’cause I wanna see if he’ll ever have a breakdown on stage again. No luck thus far.
Social Distortion, Billy Talent & Millencollin
Yeah, they’re still around & they played, but I didn’t go cause ’cause that’d just make me feel old.
The Arbutus showcase
This took place in a very shady basement called the Comfort Zone. This grotto is dark, in every way. Montreal’s Paula brightened things up. Paula features the core members of Tops & Silly Kissers, so if you’re into those bands, you’ll get that same 5 a.m. Ave du Parc vibes.
Sean Nicholas Savage hit the stage, and I lost myself in his world. I saw him earlier in the Toronto outskirts walking alone while singing out loud & recording himself on one of those old-school mini cassette self-recorder. You might think he’s not serious, but he is, and halfway into his set, you can’t help but cheer him on as if he’s your best friend hitting his first homerun.
I wish I had an A&W burger for Braids. These guys remind me of how I felt while serving mass as an altar boy. For me, Braids is like colon cleansing, but from head to toe. They have this healing effect that can make me a better person every time I indulge in their music. Try listening to them while cooking rice. It’s so zen, man.
The show ended with Blue Hawaii, who I’ve written about before. Once again, a Montreal act that keeps our city on the map and can somehow make you forget winter exists.
Somewhere between these shows, I think I got attacked by a dog. My jeans were ripped across my crotch area and I lost a shoe. So I spent lots of my time and money shopping for an affordable pair of pants and shoes. I feel like a new man. Let’s see what happens next. ■