NXNE Day three Round-Up
Saturday June 19th 2010- DAY THREE
Saturday did not go at all as expected. I was expecting to go spend the day on the island watching Broken Social Scene and friends play. But I got a txt message on Friday afternoon from my friend at Arts & Crafts. Media got cut for the island, so unless you’d bought a ticket you were out of luck. When the concert was first announced I was stoked about the idea of buying ticket, but here I was, one day before the show- and in two days I’d already spent enough money at the fest to buy that 56 dollar ticket to the island show. Did I mention I’m taking time off of work to do this festival coverage? Broken Social Scene is out.
So now what? The line-up at Yonge and Dundas square looks pretty fantastic for the evening. After a long day of writing, my roommate and I hustle our butts down to the square and make it into the Mill St. brew just in time to catch the beginning of The Raveonettes set. It’s a hotter than usual day, but the square is not that crowded yet. The first thing Mark and I do is head for the beer tent. Mill St. has just come out with the most refreshing beer I have ever tasted, Lemon Tea ale. It’s a beer brewed with actual lemon and black tea leaves, and the effect is half beer and iced tea. It’s too easy to chug, and thankfully is not even slightly reminiscent of Bud Light Lime. We also grabbed some sweet potato fries, which are a perfect pairing for the beer. Once inside the garden with beers in hand, Mark and I made a beeline for the seats. The festival is starting to take its toll on me. I woke up tired this morning. A couple who’d come from Welland to check out the festival for the weekend shared their table with us and we chatted about what we had seen so far. From our vantage point we could see the drummer playing at the back, uncovered end of the stage, but not the band themselves. The set wasn’t so loud and the crowd was doing the same as we were, talking amongst themselves- but not listening to the band. It’s too bad that no one was paying much attention, but you find this kind of phenomenon at so many of the free shows that are thrown in the city. If you get a really big name out, then the fans come out- but sometimes you have these shows where thousands of people attend, and cross their arms disinterestedly as if they’re taking a cue right out of The Rapture’s “Whoo! Alright Yeah… Uh Huh” .
My sister showed up partway through the set, and by that time the square was really starting to pack up for Iggy Pop’s set at 9:30. Some more friends were stuck trying to find their way into the brewpub, but even though they arrived only a few minutes after my sister the square was filling up quickly. The beer tent was now at capacity and the crowd was spilling out onto Yonge St. which had been blocked off for the event. We finally caught a glimpse of our friends in the crowd, and since they’d come from out of town we decided to leave the beer garden and our vantage point to be with them. And then we really saw the crowd that was swelling to cover the block. Everyone decided that it was too crowded at that they didn’t want to see Iggy that badly.
I was a little disappointed, but my disappointment faded once we got to Cafe Crepe a little further west on Queen St. On our way we passed the rehearsal run for the MMVA’s, and I was surprised to see that the crowd was about half the size of the crowd amassing at Yonge and Dundas Square. It made me feel like the people in the city had their musical priorities in the right direction this weekend. At the Cafe, I discovered an old friend from catholic school Elena was now working there. I hadn’t seen her since her no pants party earlier in February, so it was nice to run into her. There were times at U of T when we would see each other every day, but these days it seems like there is very little time for friends as we all hurry to do the disappearing 20’s shuffle for careers and love-lives and success.
After taking a good look at the schedule I decided that the best place for me tonight was at the Horseshoe Tavern to take in an evening of music hosted by CBC Radio 3 and Sirius Satellite Radio. On the bill for the evening were one of my Toronto favourites, the rock choir Bruce Peninsula, followed by Attack in Black and Huron. The night (including performances by Library Voices and Hannah Georgas which I had missed) was being broadcast live to air on CBC Radio 3, hosted by CBC Radio 3’s Grant Lawrence.
I have seen Bruce Peninsula play before twice. Once with Timber Timbre as a part of the TPL Make Some Noise series, and once a month earlier in the same venue as where I stand tonight. Bruce Peninsula like to rock out at the Horseshoe. I hate to say it, but tonight’s performance is not quite up to par. There is a girl I have never seen before on stage with them, putting their number at 10 tonight- but the energy is low. The songs are taking a different direction, a little more rock and roll and a little more low-key than their usual upbeat gospel. They play material from their last year’s Polaris Prize nominated album A Mountain Is A Mouth as well as some new stuff from an upcoming album. The band is to spend the summer at a lake writing songs (they’re aiming for about 27) and then recording a new album, so tonight is the last show they’ll play in the city for a while. They bring the energy back for what ends up being their last song of the evening, my favourite and apparently the crowd’s favourite too- “Crabapples”.
Next up is Attack in Black. Even though I’ve heard their name thrown around for a long time, I have never listened to band until today when I checked out the cd in preparation for the night’s festivities. They seem to be the crowd favourite tonight, and their laid-back rock and roll is quietly pleasing the venue. I have never seen so many people inside of the Horseshoe before. When the set ends a good portion of the crowd empties out off to other venues. The next performance is Hamilton’s Huron. Huron got their start when another Hamilton band The Arkells called into Grant’s show and told him that he had to hear this band from their hometown. They were pretty pleased to be at the venue with these other indie heavyweights, and the phrase “getting away with murder being on this bill” passed their mouths a few times. The band wasn’t bad, but I was getting tired of all this low-energy music. It was making me feel even more tired. The last band The Stanfields was supposed to be a Celtic rock group from Halifax, and although I’m sure they would’ve infused the emptying venue with a little energy, I had left my bike at home and the idea of making the last streetcar up to Bloor was seeming very attractive to me right now.
I decide to give the fest one more chance tonight and get off at Spadina car at College to check out the Silver Dollar Room. There’s some punk blues band called The Strange Boys in from Austin Texas (SXSW city) that sounds promising. And they’re pretty cool. They sound like CATL who I saw at this venue a different night. Except that their female saxophone player is yawning and I can’t take anymore. I catch that streetcar north to Bloor and ride the vomit comet until I’m home at Lansdowne where I can dream and recuperate for the final day of the fest and what looks like an exciting day of hip-hop.