Tuesday, June 11, 2013

NXNE 2013: Preview (Part II)

Yesterday, I looked at some of the best showcases to check out if you're staying put. Today, here's a whole list of good stuff to check out if you're hopping from venue to venue. You can always search through the tag cloud at the right to find more stuff about most of these bands.

With NXNE boasting such huge numbers of bands every year, you have to accept that you're not going to see everything — and, realistically, you can't even research everything. At least that's the case for me. But in a general effort to reduce the unknown unknowns, I'm putting down a list of bands that I feel confident recommending for you. With just a couple exceptions, these are bands that I've seen before, many more than once. And to back up my claims, I've included a live recording for many of them so you can judge for yourself what you're getting into.

Mikal Cronin

The Silver Dollar Room, Thursday, June 13 @ midnite; Friday, June 14 @ midnite; Saturday, June 15 @ 1 AM

Two facts you need to know: 1) Cronin has been a long-time sideman to garage-rock savant Ty Segall; 2) he's been booked to headline Dan Burke's now-legendary triple header stand at The Silver Dollar. Even without consideration of his much-lauded new MCII album, that's more than enough to indicate that this is a festival must-see.

And while I didn't mention Dan Burke's NeXT@NXNE Showstorm in yesterday's list of best-curated showcases, it's only because it's assumed by now that festival-goers know that this is the place to head when you want a late-night party and a new rock'n'roll discovery. The three nights at the Dollar are packed with great bands I know, and a bunch I haven't discovered yet. But here's a few you should make time to see:

  • The blistering, no-bullshit rock'n'roll attack that Pow Wows bring will be the perfect follow-up to Mikal Cronin (Silver Dollar Room, Thursday, June 13 @ 1 AM )
    Listen! Pow Wows - Shock Corridor
  • And stick around, as well, for the scrappy folk-punk breakdown of Nicholas Doubleyou & the B-Squad (Silver Dollar Room, Thursday, June 13 @ 2 AM; also at The Boat, Friday, June 14 @ 2 AM) which will evoke (and assuage) all of your existential concerns with staggering breakneck velocity.
    Listen! Nicholas Doubleyou and The B-Squad - Waterloo
  • AroarA (Silver Dollar Room, Friday, June 14 @ 8 PM) have been practicing on their cigar-box guitars and letting their sound develop organically for a little while now, so the melding of backwoods poetry and eastern mystic music that Andrew Whiteman (Apostle of Hustle, Broken Social Scene) and Ariel Engle have come up sounds totally unforced. A great way to start your night.
  • Alvvays (née Always; Silver Dollar Room, Friday, June 14 @ 10 PM) have also been letting their sound develop in a mostly under-the-radar fashion, showing up in intriguing opening slots but not yet releasing anything or playing many (any?) of their own shows. But their music will appeal to anyone with some albums from the poppier end of Slumberland's output in their collection.
    Listen! Always - Archie, Marry Me
  • By 3 a.m. at The Dollar, the crowd is thinned out some and running on the day's last adrenaline fumes. That makes for a good environment to catch the belligerent-edged Fill Spectre (Silver Dollar Room, Friday, June 14 @ 3 AM; also at Crawford, Sunday, June 16 @ 2 AM) before you stumble out the door. Be prepared for the music to hit you like a chain across the temple.
    Listen! Fill Spectre - Not Good To Be Bad
  • Fronted by one of the great voices in the Toronto music scene, Sphinxs (Silver Dollar Room, Saturday, June 15 @ 2 AM) bring soulful glamour to their garage-rock stompers.
    Listen! Sphinxs - Both Die

Heading outside the confines of the Silver Dollar, here's a whole bunch more bands that your should go out of your way to see:


The Shop under Parts & Labour, Thursday, June 13 @ midnite

From the get-go, Hussy have had a good line in misanthropic slugsludge — but when I saw 'em a couple weeks ago, it was quite evident that the band has levelled up into something forceful that throbs like a mofo. The bomb-shelter environs of P&L should suit them just right.
Listen! Hussy - Ladies Nite


BLK BOX, Friday, June 14 @ 10 PM; The Garrison Front Room, Saturday, June 15, 7 PM

Another band that impressed on a recent viewing, Jasmyn Burke's post-RatTail unit is just getting established as a live band, but they're already creating some impressive warbly-weird pop backdrops for Burke's unconstrained vocals and powerful frontwoman persona.
Listen! Weaves - Take a Dip

The Magic

BLK BOX, Friday, June 14 @ 11 PM

After that, stick around for the sophisticated party-rock of Guelph's The Magic. When they go all-out, their sets are somewhere between a sophisticated pageant and a sweaty dance party.
Listen! The Magic - Door to Door

Absolutely Free

The Drake Underground, Friday, June 14 @ 10 PM

As patient as an album-side-long prog suite and as insistent as a krautrock chug, Absolutely Free's sound is like pop in a lab coat, ready to discover the future.
Listen! Absolutely Free - Clothed Woman Sitting


Lee's Palace, Friday, June 14 @ 9 PM

Embodying the sonic threat that their name implies, B-17 curdles sunny psychedelia into an offering for a black sabbath — and is issuing it with one of the city's most kinetic live shows.
Listen! B-17 - Another Nocturnal Day

The BB Guns

Lee's Palace, Saturday, June 15 @ 9 PM

So far as I can tell, pretty much the only thing holding back these "girl group garage" stars is a city that too often wants to see approval coming from elsewhere first. If this band were from Brooklyn or California, they'd be huge. Confident in their balancing of sock-hop sass and punkish attitude, they're a great live unit to boot.
Listen! The BB Guns - Queen of the World

Sean Nicholas Savage

Comfort Zone, Thursday, June 13 @ midnite

After establishing himself as a shapeshifting and prolific underground chameleon, SNS has synthesized all his strengths as on the new Other Life and looks ready to become a world-conquering crooner.


The Horseshoe Tavern, Saturday, June 15 @ 10 PM

After losing a member, catl took a season-long hiatus to consider their options, and is now coming back as a stripped-down two-piece. That shouldn't change the essence of the band, though — you can probably still expect lightning, whisky, sweat and grease to be the key components of an awesome juke-joint party.
Listen! catl - Call Her Name


The Horseshoe Tavern, Thursday, June 13 @ 10 PM

It's been a surprise — albeit not an unpleasant one — to see DIANA taking the world by (quiet) storm. Formed from the ashes of Everything All The Time (one of the bands where Joseph Shabason sharpened the mellow chops he'd later deploy in his sideman stint with Destroyer) and combined with Carmen Elle's voice and magnetism, there was no doubting the talent accumulated here. But the band's 80's-inspired jams have definitely touched a chord. The big stages that they've been playing on tour as openers to some high-profile bands might be giving them ideas, so take this chance to catch them in the cozy confines of the 'Shoe.
Listen! DIANA - Perpetual Surrender

Moon King

The Horseshoe Tavern, Thursday, June 13 @ 9 PM; Wrongbar, Friday, June 14 @ 11 PM; Yonge Dundas Square, Saturday, June 15 @ 5 PM

It's been exciting to see Daniel Woodhead's project evolve from a scrappy two-piece to a full band with a nuanced, dreamy sound. Along the way, layers of sophistication haven't detracted from an energetic live show, honed to a sharp point by months of touring.
Listen! Moon King - Crucified

Odonis Odonis

The Garrison, Friday, June 14 @ 1 AM; Bruise Cruise, Saturday, June 15 @ 2:40 PM

Another band that whose profile has been expanding alongside the refinement of their murky/menacing vision, OO can still sound like they're playing a sweaty basement party no matter what sort of stage they're on.
Listen! Odonis Odonis - Wipeout Beat

Gentleman Reg

Rivoli, Wednesday, June 12 @ midnite

Reg Vermue has been spending a bit more time on stage lately as Regina, his drag alter ego, in the fabulous Light Fires. But here he returns to remind us just how good the songs from last year's Leisure Life were.
Listen! Gentleman Reg - Driving the Truth

Henri Fabergé

Silver Dollar - Side Stage, Saturday, June 15 @ 8:45 + 9:45 PM

Having recently re-convened his Adorables all-star rock band and preparing to unleash his "Feint of Hart" punk rock opera next month, I don't know just what Henri Fabergé is going to bring to these side-stage sets, but I expect that it will involve some manner of spectacle.
Listen! Henri Fabergé & the Adorables - Ventriloquist Love

The Jessica Stuart Few

C'est What, Friday, June 14 @ 1 AM

Stuart's folk-pop stylings are the musical equivalent of a microbrew on a patio on a hot summer day — crisp and refreshing, sunny and bright. Expect extra sophistication in the form of the koto.
Listen! The Jessica Stuart Few - Kid Dream

Legato Vipers

The Boat, Wednesday, June 12 @ 12:45 AM

LV are not Not a Fucking Surf Band, a fact underlined by the fact they got Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet's Don Pyle to produce their debut EP. An all-star team of veterans from heaps of great Guelph and Toronto bands, they got chops to spare, but aren't above slipping on their hip flasks and leather jackets and having some fun on stage.
Listen! Legato Vipers - Rat King + Angel Dust

Dilly Dally

Velvet Underground, Saturday, June 15 @ 10 PM

This band's "epic-stoner-sludge-pop" is the soundtrack to a bummer vibe being exorcised.
Listen! Dilly Dally - Green


Wrongbar, Thursday, June 13 @ 9 PM

Kat Burns (formerly of Forest City Lovers) has already been recording the follow-up to last year's Vichada, so there should be some new songs in the mix — and an increased comfort with the transition from folk-rock to electro-pop. Regardless of the musical setting, Burns remains a strong songwriter, delivering her music with a bashful smile.
Listen! Kashka - This Machine

Patti Cake

Rancho Relaxo, Friday, June 14 @ 9 PM

Frontwoman Kritty Uranowski brings a brassy exuberance to the stage, while her band offers touches of classic 60's songcraft — including swaying backing vocalists. Expect rays of sun to burst out at any time.
Listen! Patti Cake - Diamonds


The Central, Friday, June 14 @ midnite

This rambunctious crew is a party, funeral and wake all rolled up in one package. The local "art-country" upstarts have a raucous time on stage (complete with banjo, mandolin and singing saw), but they've now complemented that with a meticulously-crafted document in the just-released Just Rivers album.
Listen! Beams - Be My Brother

Shooting Guns

Hideout Friday, June 14 @ 10 PM

Saskatoon's Shooting Guns produce a thick and doomy instrumental psych-sludge that's heavy enough to curdle your Vi-Co. Metal for non-metal folks and metalheads alike.
Listen! Shooting Guns - Public Taser


The Horseshoe Tavern, Saturday, June 15 @ 2 AM

Excellently twitchy blood-on-the-strings slop-punk, propelled into viscous escape velocity. Guard your favourite body cavities.
Listen! The Soupcans - The Simulant

unfinished business

R------ Stage - Harbourfront, Sunday, June 16 @ 2 PM

These teenagers' stated aim is to become "the funnest band ever" and they're a good way along that path. Short songs about the sort of stuff that we can all relate to: rock stars, BFF's, epic failures, haunted houses, and trying not to laugh when we see people falling over.

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