Concerts Concerts NXNE 2013: Calexico at The Mod Club

NXNE 2013: Calexico at The Mod Club

Calexico at Mod Club, for NXNE
Calexico
Virgin Mobile Mod Club in Toronto, ON
June 12, 2013

Review by: Chad Hutchings
Photos by: Julie Lavelle

On the first strong night of NXNE's 2013 music schedule, one of the year's most seasoned acts stood both as headliner at the Mod Club and as this writer's most anticipated performance of the festival.

Although it's been nearly three years since Calexico has visited the city, their seventeen years together has brought them within striking range often enough to leave no excuse for never having seen them perform live. But, in the thick of the heavy crowd that showed up to see the Tucscon-based band on stage, there was the kind of heady excitement flowing that'd make you suspect most of their fans had been waiting that whole two decades to catch sight of them. For me, that suspicion was pretty accurate, so I was chomping at the bit to see the band that has always seemed like they'd be even stronger on stage than they are in the studio.

Calexico is more than strong in the studio, of course, and their latest release, 2012's Algiers, is a testament to that fact - an album that's well-polished and a further evolution on the band's sound that has seen dozens of releases in the past, by way of full length albums, EPs, and countless tour recordings since they formed. On NXNE Wednesday, a lot of that broad catalogue was featured, what with how the band spent a good two hours on stage (topped off with a five song encore). But, as it turned out, my assumption was a winner - Calexico knows how to put on a hell of a show. Though their work deserves solid rotation on plenty of playlists, there's nothing quite like the experience of Calexico's live performance, with their cross genre mix of tex-mex, indie rock, and half a dozen other forms coming together expertly to make a lively good time on stage. Whether it was by vocal means or by instrumental, every facet of the performance was duly honed and offered up with genuine smiles and banter and fire. Those honed offerings came in no small numbers through the night; with four additional instrumentalists accompanying Calexico's three core members, there were more instruments broken out than I could keep track of, to contribute to a cleverly paced set list that balanced fiery beats with sensual melodies that had many a bold and intoxicated couple getting physical in the shoulder to shoulder crowd, and with good reason. Let's just consider Sticky's photographer lucky to be out of arm's reach.

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