Saturday, June 19, 2010

NXNE for Saturday, June 19th, 2010

I went to Toronto to catch some of the NXNE shows this year. I set out to conquer a list, and I soon realized leaving the car parked by Bloor & Ossington wasn’t the best decision if I was going to meet my tight itinerary. Before departing, I used the NXNE guide that you find at many of the venues in combination with the NXNE website. It’s great how they have all the bands searchable on the site so you can plan your night. I did carry my festival guide in my back pocket for reassurance and ended up using it when I realized how long Queen Street really is.

First I saw The Jessica Stuart Few at The Piston on Bloor West.  I caught the end of the show with vocalist Jessica Stuart playing guitar, Dan Fortin on upright bass and Nico Dann on drums. I had hoped to hear the sounds of the koto, which was on stage, but was nonetheless pleased with the trio’s pop/jazz fusion flavor. This was a refreshing change from much of the usual NXNE fare. Jessica is a strong vocalist who reminds me of Ivana Santilli. Jessica Stuart is an accomplished jazz guitarist and plays in several other groups. Who says 80’s retro theme songs can’t be showcased at the same event as Iggy and the Stooges? I also received a really cool free button.

I tried to make it to the Velvet Underground for the next band, but I was too late. I then proceeded to Bread and Circus in Kensington Market to check out Airheart. They were well received by the audience, but the duo’s performance seemed a bit immature with singer Stacy B clicking on a PlayStation controller for vocal effects. Mason Bach, DJ and gizmo-whiz guy sported a single turntable, an electric violin, a mixer and a laptop from which he produced big techno sounds with crackly 1940’s spoken-word samples. Very danceable but check your decibels.

Speaking of decibels, I checked out Teenanger at the Silver Dollar and I’m not sure why anyone would put a Telecaster through a Fender Twin at that volume. Next time it’s earplugs. Teenanger has a solid performance though. This not-exactly-punk band reminds me of the Ramones or the Sex Pistols. Easy on the vocal reverb Alex, your voice doesn’t cut through the other instruments. These guys and gal have been practicing for their showcase however, and have an exciting, road-worthy performance.

I did make it to the Horseshoe Tavern for what ended up being my last show of the night where I saw Huron. Cam Malcolm and Aaron Goldstein provide vocal and guitar harmonies, add pedal steel and organ with drums and bass guitar and you have a solid performance at probably the best venue in town, with the best timeslot for a rock band in Toronto. Huron is versatile, with both bassist Adam “Hank” Melnick and Drummer Peter Hall providing additional vocals and Adam handling the organ. These guys don’t sound like Wilco or Tom Petty per se, but I’d put them on the same playlist. Peter Hall your drumming is solid.
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