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11-Jun-2007 12:00 AM
Contributed by: pete
Perhaps I should've selected a photo of Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo as the lead photo for this article, but even though Blue Rodeo put on an amazing show, NXNE is really all about discovering new bands. So you're looking at Brant Bjork's tattoos as the lead photo instead. I kicked off NXNE by trying to see way too much in far too little time, but it was worth a try. There's just too much for one person to see during NXNE. Although it wasn't all planned out, I managed to see: Simon Wilcox, Lights, Disraelis, Camouflage Nights, Sleeping In The Aviary, Brant Bjork and the Bros, C'mon, Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, and wrapped up the night with Blue Rodeo.
8:00 PM - Simon Wilcox @ Rivoli
I first saw Simon Wilcox as part of the Year Of The Monkey show and her performance stood out for me, so when I found out she was playing as part of the NXNE festival, I decided to start my Thursday night at the Rivoli. Unfortunately, I was running a little late and only managed to catch just over the last 2 songs of her set. Once again, though, her performance was compelling; there's just something about her pent-up singing style that I like. To add to it, her backing band was The Miniatures, and they sounded excellent. I'm looking forward to getting out and seeing a full set by Simon sometime later this year.
Info and Connect: MySpace
9:00 PM - Lights @ Rivoli
After Simon Wilcox, a band called Lights started to plug-in their equipment, but had some technical problems (they were missing the power supply for one of the keyboards). I was told a quick trip across the road to Steve's Music Store solved the problem, but it caused a bit of a delay, so I was only able to stick around for two songs before hitting the road to make my way up to Sneaky Dee's via The Silver Dollar. Which unfortunately meant I was going to miss whatever song required the keytair they had waiting on stage.
9:00 PM - Disraelis @ The Silver Dollar
By the time we made it up to The Silver Dollar, we only managed to catch the last song of the Disraelis set. Too short for me to make any useful comments on their performance, but what I heard sounded pretty decent.
Info and Connect: MySpace
10:00 PM - Camouflage Nights @ Sneeky Dee's
It seems no one was quite in gear for Thursday, and Camouflage Nights was no exception. They started setting up only minutes before their scheduled set time, and so when they actually started playing they only had just enough time to warm up before they got cut off. Camouflage Nights was formed by Ian McGettigan and Rob (Tigre) Benvie, previously of Thrush Hermit. Based on the information on MySpace, it appears they have a regularly rotating group of band members. Their music is built upon grooves and has a definite uniqueness to their indie sound.
Info: Camouflage Nights | Connect: MySpace
11:00 PM - Sleeping In The Aviary @ Rancho Relaxo
I wrote a quick shot review on Sleeping In The Aviary just a few weeks ago, so I decided to stop by the Rancho Relaxo and see what these guys are like on stage. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect given their album contains 13 tracks and comes in at a total of only 23 minutes (we're talking short). At Rancho, they plowed through a bunch of songs from their album, and even stretched out a few songs by adding in a little banter as introductions to songs like Crance, a song that teaches you how to cry and dance all at the same time, a skill that you may need "if you find yourself at a Postal Service concert". But even with these segues, Sleeping In The Aviary was on stage for a grant total of... drum roll please... 17 minutes. An NXNE representative told them they had another 20 minutes of showcase time, but they declined saying "That's pretty much how we do it". Almost exactly like their album, they just got it out and ended it. I don't know why I would've expected anything else. They're definitely fun to watch, but if you go see them, don't get too comfortable.
Info: Sleeping In The Aviary | Connect: MySpace
12:00 AM - Brant Bjork and The Bros @ El Mocambo
While we were waiting for C'Mon to come on, we got to see the full set by Brant Bjork and The Bros, a band that plays weed-inspired heavy rock built on power-chord grooves. Even though many of the songs are composed using similar underlying beats and backgrounds, Brant has a cool voice, an excellent guitar face, and that indefinable quality that is best described as charisma. Standing stage right was the bass player who was hilariously anti-social, spending the entire set in one place, wearing sun glasses, and facing his large stack of Marshall amps. They played to a good-sized crowd while the fans at the front rocked-out to Brant's solos.
1:00 AM - C'mon @ El Mocambo
C'mon is a power trio that isn't shy with the volume knob on their amplifiers, and I'm positive that Ian Blurton (guitar, vocals) had his Green amp turned up to 11. On stage, Ian is joined by a hard-rocker's fantasy Katie Lynn Campbell on bass, previously of Nashville Pussy, and Dean Dallas Bentley on drums. I am a fan of C'mon's 2005 album Midnight Is The Answer, so it was great to be able to rock-out to songs like Too Bad For The Tin Man at a live show. Their performance of This Is Yr Captain was pretty mind-blowing. But if I had to sum it up in one word, I would say: Loud.
Info: C'mon | Connect: MySpace
2:00 AM - Luke Doucet & Melissa McClelland @ Lee's Palace
For a complete change of pace in musical style, we made our way up to Lee's Palace to see Luke Doucet and his sharply dressed wife Melissa McClelland play some southern-rock inspired country music. Luke played a beautiful white Gretsch guitar that blended well with both his and Melissa's smooth voices. Melissa often looked into the crowd and would smile directly at individual fans, making a connection between performer and audience member. There was so much personality on that stage it was hard not to enjoy it, even if their music isn't quite my style.
Info: Luke Doucet, Melissa McClelland | Connect: MySpace
3:00 AM - Blue Rodeo @ Lee's Palace
I'll admit that I'm not much of a fan of Blue Rodeo's music, but just the fact that I'm Canadian means that I know more than a couple of their songs. And being able to see and photograph this band in a space the size of Lee's Palace seemed like a good opportunity. Their performance made it clear that they are truly amazing musicians. And to add to the moment, I could practically feel the love of their music emanating from the crowd toward the stage. The fans sang along with a more than a few of the songs, and many smiled their way through entire show. A truly great Canadian way to wrap up my very long Thursday night.
Info: Blue Rodeo | Connect: MySpace