Monday, June 14, 2004

NXNE - Day 2: The journey continues

The music gods were smiling down on me through the 3 days of the NXNE festival for two reasons:

-1)my awesome luck finding decent(read:close to the venue) parking on the street,
-2)getting to see some great artists throughout the 3 day event

The Parkas @ Rancho Relaxo(part of NXNE 2004): photo by Mike LigonI made it downtown by car fairly easy on Friday night and found parking almost immediately across the street from my first stop, Rancho Relaxo, which was hosting The Parkas at 10 pm. I arrived at the doors of the venue about 5 minutes after The Parkas had started their set. The live music for Rancho Relaxo is on the second floor. I'd been there several times before so I knew what to expect. The live music venue is basically a very narrow rectangular shape with the stage to your immediate right when you walk in. It's weird to walk in when a band is already playing because when you walk in, the stage is a literally a few steps to your right. I would have loved to just stay up front, but I always feel that if I tried, someone might want to kick my ass for having just walked in and stood in front of them. So I usually make my way towards the middle before trying to head back up front. The smallness of the club is great because it actually makes it more exciting to see bands there, who are at eye level with you.

So now about the band. Considering 1)the band's name, and, 2) the NXNE site's description of the band, "British invasion, Stax and punk albums have all had an effect on these rock 'n rollers. Heart, soul and memorable melodies are their signatures", I was expecting a mod band, complete with co-ordinated suits and skinny ties. However, they were rather ordinarily dressed indie-rockers. I know the band are on pop label Endearing Records, so I was expecting quality and they didn't disappoint. The Parkas play r'n'b influenced rock n'roll and although not entirely innovative, they do it very well. The music was exemplified by throbbing basslines, spot-on drumming, energetic riffing, and urgent vocals, with a dash of soulful saxophone thrown in on one song for good measure. They're tuneful, but they never forget to rock. They reminded me a little of The Deadly Snakes, but without the horns. Brownie points for one of the member's attempt at stand-up comedy between songs. Oh and one of the members could pass for Rufus Wainwright's twin, complete with matching sideburns [hey even the band made a joke about this]. Good start, to what would be a great evening. [check out my photos here.]

Feist @ Reverb (as part of NXNE 2004): photo by Mike LigonAfter The Parkas' set ended, I drove down towards the Reverb where Feist was going to be performing. I got a parking spot about a 5 minute walk away from the Reverb. Just want to mention that, the decent weather and great vibe on the streets, especially waiting in line to get into the Feist show, made this year's NXNE really good. Too bad my friends coudn't make it that night[although my friend did make it out the next night]. I ended up having to wait in line for about an hour in front of the Reverb before I got in to the venue. The most frustrating part of waiting in line was that I was slowly getting closer to the front of the line, but people with passes continued to show up and they were getting priority in getting in to the venue over wristband holders. But eventually my turn came and I darted up the stairs towards the sweet sounds of Feist who had just begun her set. I'd never been to the Reverb before and the inside had a good vibe, as it was spaciouos and had couches and coffee tables. The venue was at capacity but I managed to get a decent view off to the left side of the stage. Feist was playing solo that night, although I would have preferred to see her with the band. She talked about Paris, as well as how 'the real gig' was the night after at The Mod Club Theatre. She came off more cosmopolitan than I thought her to be. This was a Toronto gal? The evening was predominantly about understatement, hushness and a cosmopolitan sophistication. She played mostly jazzy pop numbers with just her voice and guitar. At one point between songs, she performed this mish mash of a song which involved looping her vocals and guitar into a swirling crescendo of sound. All I could think of was how much she reminded me of PJ Harvey at that moment. Feist also teased the crowd with the opening guitar strains of Broken Social Scene's 'KC Accidental' which caused a sudden burst of excitement from the crowd. The crowd ate up every note and every utterance from Ms. Feist. It was an all-too-brief set but enjoyable nonetheless. [check out my photos here.]

The Waxwings @ Healeys (part of NXNE 2004): photo by Mike LigonCould fate work out better that night? The Waxwings were playing Healey's which was just around the corner from the Reverb where Feist had just played. So I headed towards Healey's where The Waxwings' set would begin in about another half hour. Not ever hearing their music, my interest in them was purely based on them being on the Rainbow Quartz label. I came into the know about the label last year when they had a showcase at the Pop Montreal festival. That year, I had seen a band called Asteroid No. 4 who played sweet country rock music, but I also read that the label was primarily a 60's influenced guitar band label. So I had an inkling that I might enjoy other bands on the label. The Waxwings are a band comprised of four lads with the usual setup: lead and rhythm guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Their music had hints of The Byrds and The Stones and they were thoroughly enjoyable. Maybe it's the sterile environment of Healey's[it's so clean and somewhat luxurious compared to other venues] or maybe it was the crowd[ as Healey's usually cater to an older crowd into blues music] but I thought that there was a definite lack of excitmenet in the place. Maybe it was because a lot of people were too interested in sitting down and drinking and talking, rather than f*!kin' listening to the music. Otherwise, myself and others listened intently. Not exactly boogie music, but hard enough at times that I was bopping my head and stomping my feet.[check out my photos here.]

day 2 down, 1 more to go

No comments:

Post a Comment