Well NXNE has come and gone again in Toronto, and while the format was drastically different there was still much awesome Canadian and international music to be had.
The first night of the festival that I went out, was to catch TUNS at The Garrison. The newly formed super group took turns on lead vocals and had the PACKED crowd dancing with what little room they had to move.
The next evening I got to the Horseshoe Tavern just in time for Duotang's last few songs, before the crowd pushed in for Shred Kelly. The Fernie, BC band had the dance floor moving for their entire set and, as always, seemed to enjoy performing for us as much as the crowd did.
Saturday I was finally off to check out the new NXNE set up at the Port Lands (which was a trek to get to for sure). Set up in a large parking lot, in the 30 degree weather, it was going to be a a hot one, and I think that is why most of the crowd didn't arrive until about half way through the day of programming.
Land Of Talk was on the main stage when I arrived. It's always a great treat to hear Liz Powell sing - I can't remember the last time L.O.T. was in Vancouver, so I took full advantage of the set while I could.
The sets alternated between the main stage and the smaller stage at the other end of the parking lot, but the crowd rarely changed size, instead just migrating from one stage to the other.
In this case, everyone headed south to see Toronto's own HIGHS.
Not unlike the last time I saw them, HIGHS played mostly new music including singles "Handsome Man" and "I Do, Do You". The band will be back in Vancouver on July 19th at the Biltmore, so if you missed them the last time, here's your chance!
The next three bands on the docket were all Vancouverites, which seems to happen whenever I go to a festival outside BC. But my heart always swells with pride, seeing Dan Mangan, The Zolas, and Mother Mother have huge crowds of adoring fans packed in to watch them.
All three had new music to perform: The Zolas played much of their new record Swooner, Mangan had just released a new EP with a few songs, and Mother Mother tested out some yet-to-be-recorded tunes on the crowd.
Closing out the south stage for the evening was Born Ruffians, performing under the glow of the golden hour, with a ton of energy. The crowd (esp. the front row) was LOVING the set and I patiently waited to hear my new favourite of theirs, the infectious "Oh Cecelia", live. (I was rewarded).
Undoubtably the largest crowd of the night was for Father John Misty (I think a LOT of people arrived just in time to see him, and skip the heat). There really are no words for this man, it may have been expressed best by the concert-goer that was skipping his way through the crowd (literally) in giant circles/passes throughout the whole set. You'd see him every 2 minutes or so and think "Yep, that's how this makes me feel too.". From the banter to the music, FJM had you swooning, laughing, swaying, and singing along.
I was in the photo pit for a song and a half, and he landed on his knees (seriously, it looks painful when he just drops on them) right in front of me, way too close for my zoom to get a photo of, so I just stared in awe momentarily.
I hauled it (again, literally) up all the way across town just in time to see the 2nd half of Adam Baldwin's performance at Lee's Palace, and it was so worth the journey. The lowered floor area was crammed with people passionately singing along to every song, feeding off of Adam's energy. I missed hearing the new singles (his new album is out now!), so I will resort to just listening on repeat until he makes his way out to Vancouver again (soon please!).
I ended my NXNE experience with another familiar face, BC native and Montreal transplant Kandle and The Krooks. I've managed to miss her in Vancouver on each of her last trips here and was determined, no matter how much my feet hurt or how tired I was, to check her out. The second I walked in and heard her voice, I was instantly rejuvenated and spell bound. Seriously, make sure you catch her when she comes to Vancouver (or wherever you are) next.
That's all folks. Thanks to NXNE for having me again this year.