NXNE Day four Round-Up
Sunday June 2oth 2010- DAY FOUR
It’s the last day of the NXNE festival and I’ve got to make today count. I left the fest last night a little early and even missed out on watching the 10 AM Italy game to make sure to get a good night’s sleep so today’s last round of partying would be a good one.
I am still a little disappointed about missing the Iggy show last night, which I’m sure will go down as legendary. Today is going to be about me, and I want to see De La Soul and I am not making any compromises today. My sister, who also wanted to see The Stooges rock out last night is on the same page.
We make it down to the square for 7 PM, just in time to see New York City’s Phenomenal Handclap Band. The square looks so different in comparison to last night’s Stooges’ show. There are only a few hundred here to witness these groovy cats get down, and there are even fewer of us dancing. I know I write and talk about this often, and I know that at free shows you can’t expect too much from audiences- often the crowd is mostly people wandering through the area, or checking out a band they’ve never heard of (like so many times I am). But when festival organizers go through all the trouble of booking bands of international note and putting on a free show because they think its important that the public be able to see them, then I am inclined to rock out. Even if the only other person dancing is a veiny-headed aging bald guy with bulgy eyes. Come on Toronto, are we a city with one of the coolest music scenes in North America or not?
The Phenomenal Handclap Band were, well, phenomenal. It was a good mix of psychedelic grooving and laidback urban partying. I think the term I’m looking for here is retro-futurism. The band are a very beautiful bunch, and when the girls sing (especially during that “15-20 ” song) they remind me of one of my favourite Brazilian bands Cansei de Ser Sexei. The effect is perfect for doobs.
Next on is Chicago’s Kid Sister. On her list of claims to fame is a nomination for BET best female artist, as well as having collaborated with Mr. Gayfish himself Kayne. As I read this to my own kid sister out of the NXNE handbook, she gets excited. Sara is the hiphop fan as I’ve only let it into my musical vocabulary since college. A cute white guy gets on stage and starts singing, “Hey I’m Kid Sister”. I think to myself, is this her? No, rest assured, the ghetto glam diva comes out seconds later and starts working that crowd. The music is a mix of house and electro and hip hop. She is hot with her silver nails, but her tied back hair and oversize tee with the arms ripped off is telling me that she’s not just a face. She plays several of her hits including “Control” and “Right Hand Hi” and between songs she says into the mike “(ladies)if you can’t keep it sexy, then keep it nasty”. I am fucking loving it. Even my cool kid sister is dancing now. We like her so much we decide to go and see her for a second time that night at Wrongbar.
When she finishes her set, the stage is ready for the main attraction- hiphop pioneers De La Soul. Now, I’m not much of a music fan for admitting to you that I’ve never heard of these guys except in a write-up in the NOW magazine about their show-stealing performance at SXSW this year. And everytime I mention the show to a hiphop fan the reaction is that the event is not to be missed, although none of them seem aware that the show is happening. The set starts, and although the sqaure is only about half as crowded as the Iggy show (but every bit just as crowded as the Sloan show), De La does not disappoint. I don’t know a damn song the trio play all night, but they have me calling back and hand-pumping right with the rest of the crowd. The trio start songs and stop them if they don’t get enough of an audience response. Some people (my room-mate, not a fan I may add) think this is annoying. I think it’s a great tactic, the square’s been too quiet for the past two performances. And the New York performers get some mad cred from me when they call into the mike “this is not a rap show, this is a soul show!” before asking us if they can play a little James Brown. (Hell yes you can play a little James Brown!) I knew it when I left the show and I know it as I sit here now after the fest writing, De La Soul put on the best show I saw all weekend. And you can watch the whole thing on youtube here . (It’s not the best quality, I’ll admit).
We left at 10:25 so that we could make it to Wrongbar before they stopped letting people in. We shouldn’t have worried, the place was far from crowded when we arrived. The first band of the evening was called Little Girls, who my sister and I agreed sucked. When a friend I ran into asked why, I explained the vocals were an awful harsh mumbling that only got marginally better when the uncharismatic lead singer screamed- and that my grandmother could play those basslines. Sure there were some semi-interesting things going on between the guitarist and the drummer, but semi-interesting is not good. It’s just mediocre, and during a weekend with more live music than I could care to see, you just gotta do better than that.
Kid Sister comes on again after that, and the audience this time is all ears. She’s in a different t-shirt that has the Chanel logo with a skull and crossbones, implying kill Chanel. My sister the fashionista goes crazy (oh my god, where did that bitch get that!) It’s the same show with the same line-up, and I just lap it up again. And I’m not the only one. The dancefloor is rank with the smell of bodies sweating from dancing so hard to those beats. This show is cooler because the audience gives her some love back, and she responds by inviting us up on stage. I take it and that’s how I end my North by North East experience, on stage dancing with the band.