|14-Jun-2007 05:13 AM||Contributed by: pete||Concert Reviews|
Since I attempted to do too much on the first night of NXNE, my plans for the second night were much more basic. The idea was to start the night out with a band called Noah's Arkweld, then go just around the corner to Rancho Relaxo to check out a band from Australia called 84, and then straight down to The Horseshoe and spend the rest of the night there for Geronimo, Die Mannequin, and White Cowbell Oklahoma. There were a number of other shows going on that I was interested in seeing, including Soundtrack Of Our Lives, The Sadies, Handsome Furs, John Doe, Tin Bangs, Republic Of Safety, and Birds Of Wales, but I was keen to see White Cowbell Oklahoma, so The Horseshoe was the place. And I stuck mostly to plan, with just one diversion that I won't even go into.
9:00 PM - Noah's Arkweld @ El MocamboNoah's Arkweld is lead by Noah Mintz previously of hHead, who took a break from being a musician to become a mastering engineer for such bands as Broken Social Scene and Death From Above 1979. But he's back in the scene with a band that includes Cherise Burda (guitar), Lily Wong (keyboards), and Jason Darby (drums). The big event at this show was the final number, where Noah's brought out a small group of children with their faces painted in Kiss-style makeup. He referred to them as the "potty-mouth kids choir" and after the children got into position, he went on to sing a song that went something like "You think you're the shit, but take the 'the' out of it" (I think that's a bad paraphrase), and had the kids singing the chorus. The best part was that a few of the kids just stood there looking stunned. It was pretty beautiful.
Info: Noah's Arkweld | Connect: MySpace
10:00 PM - 84 @ Rancho RelaxoThe best thing about seeing bands at Rancho Relaxo is neither the lighting nor the stage, it is the cheap pints. And it's even better when your friend buys you one. But the real reason you end up at Rancho is to hear the bands. And I went to see 84, a band out of Melbourne, Australia that travelled nearly half way around the world, spending more than 21 hours in the air, just to get to Toronto for NXNE. Their garage-rock sound fit perfectly into the venue, and, wow, can they ever belt out a tune. Michael Falk's rough and ready vocals are a great match to Andrew Woroniuk's high energy guitar playing. Having lived in Australia for a couple of years in the 90's, their set made me feel like I was back in the North Gong Hotel pub again.
Info: 84 | Connect: MySpace
11:00 PM - Geronimo @ The HorseshoeWe swung by The Boat briefly, and then arrived at The Horseshoe in time to see more than half of Geronimo's set. Their music has a happy Canadian indie feel to it with jangly guitars and vocals that have a just hint of Perry Farrell in them (or maybe that's just me). I think I may have heard Geronimo on the CBC Radio 3 podcast at some point, but I can't remember for sure. And similarly, their set at The Horseshoe didn't leave much of an impression on me either. Maybe on a different night, leading up to different bands, it would've been more memorable, but unfortunately for Geronimo, they were followed by Die Mannequin and White Cowbell Oklahoma, two bands that command attention.
12:00 AM - Die Mannequin @ The HorseshoeDie Mannequin is a three piece punk band from Toronto, lead by Care Failure (vocals, guitar) and with Anthony Useless (bass) and Pat M (drums). It was fast and rough, and got the audience slamming within a couple of songs. Care stumbles and jumps around, leaning out into the audience regularly, inciting more moshing (and even accidentally hitting me on the head with the neck of her guitar). At one point she dropped down off the stage and played among the fans. But aside from the high-energy stage presence, Care also pumps out strong vocals. The set ended in mayhem with Care riding Anthony's shoulders while they both built up to a big finish where they ultimately collapsed on the stage floor and played out the end on their backs. It's definitely worth picking up their album, plus this is a band worth seeing again, so don't be surprised if I post more photos of Die Mannequin later in the year.
Info: Die Mannequin | Connect: MySpace
1:00 AM - White Cowbell Oklahoma @ The HorseshoeI have no idea how to describe the insanity that is White Cowbell Oklahoma. As their set came to a close, there were people standing near me with the look of disbelief on their faces, stunned by what just happened. But let me go back: When White Cowbell took the stage, there were about 8 of them (I forgot to count, 8 seems about right, maybe more). The show was started by the main-cowbell guy (I don't know how else to describe him) power grinding a white cowbell, creating a stream of sparks. That, in itself, was pretty amazing, but that was just the beginning.
Their straight-ahead rock is loud and sometimes a little predictable, but that doesn't mean it isn't good listening, especially with all the showmanship all up in front of you. In fact, the music alone would be enough to charge a crowd. And then couple of songs into the set, their "touring hostess" joined them on stage and fed shots of beer to all the performers while they played. It turns out she is an integral part of the show, attracting the eyes of the men and coaxing women to slap her ass. She occasionally goes off-stage to change costumes and rejoins the band dancing and making lewd motions. It might sound a little over the top, and it is, but it just fits in with their show and music. She adds a "dirty factor" that makes you feel like you should be throwing your beer bottles at the chicken wire. (Note: There is no chicken wire protecting the stage at The Horseshoe, so do not throw your beer bottles at them at future events).
As if all of that wasn't enough, during the second last song, Sugar City, the crowd started screaming "chainsaw!" and, to the surprise of the uninitiated audience members, a chainsaw was brought out along with two industrial-sized rolls of toilet paper on a stick. As the main-cowbell guy (also the chief-chainsaw-guy) pulled the chainsaw up into the toilet rolls, the paper shredded and flew into the crowd. The screams and laughter from the crowd was hilarious - and it was like nothing I've ever seen before. But they still weren't done. The next sarcrifice was a large, cheap stuffed animal that when chewed up by the chainsaw, sprayed its styrofoam pellets into air and then down over the audience like a snowstorm.
They ended the set with a cover of a song by Focus, and went off stage briefly before returning for an encore where they finished the night by pulling as many women up on stage as possible to dance, claiming that they were stealing all our females. It was insane, and... and... all I can say is: Holy shit!
Info: White Cowbell Oklahoma | Connect: MySpace
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