NXNE 2010 in Toronto, Ontario
June 17, 2010
Photos and Review by: Pete Nema
Wednesday night at the CN Tower was incredible and unique, but it ended early and I was relatively well behaved, so I was ready for a full Thursday of NXNE.
I started the day out in the early afternoon visiting the Audio Blood Nacho House and watching the guys from Hollerado assemble trays of nachos, including broccoli as a decorative ingredient, and serve them to the party that was already going strong by 2:00pm. Nachos, Steam Whistle, and the promise of rooftop sets by The Balconies and Hollerado made it very difficult to leave, but once I arranged for Natalia to interview Hollerado, I stuck to my plan and headed over to The Verge XM party at The Spoke Club.
The Verge XM Party
The Verge XM always hosts great parties with excellent independent bands, and with the beautifully hot weather we had on Thursday, the patio at The Spoke Club was an ideal location. Sitting outside sipping on a cool beer, with bands like Michou, Songs From A Room, and The Sheepdogs playing short sets did nothing but good for me, and even helped me finalize some of my plans for the evening. I had already planned on seeing Michou, so their set at The Verge XM party was simply a warm-up (their Justin Beiber cut-out wearing that "It's Nice To Michou" t-shirt still makes me chuckle). I hadn't, however, planned on seeing The Sheepdogs, but their set in the afternoon convinced me to drop on their set at The Dakota Tavern later that night. Although I didn't manage to get out and see Songs From A Room again during NXNE 2010, I've seen and enjoyed them many times in the past, so it was good to catch up with them.
But before the night really got going, I stopped in at Yonge-Dundas Square to photograph the first set of the night from Free Energy. This Philly-based band released a full-length album called Stuck On Nothing in early May that caught my attention. I hadn't ever seen them before, but it turns out frontman Paul Spangers is a bouncy, bony boy whose vocals lead us through a set of hook filled power-pop. With songs like "Bang Pop", this band was well suited to the daylight hours, or perhaps they tuned their performance for the daylight hours and good-sized early crowd. Either way, it was easily enjoyable.
After stopping into The Mod Club for Imaginary Cities and Young Galaxy (covered in a separate article), it was time to catch Sheepdogs in probably the best suited environment for them in the city: The Dakota Tavern. Only a few people coated the edges of the venue when the band started, but by the time they finished, it had filled in such that there was a small crowd on the floor. The Sheepdogs play music very strongly inspired by 70's southern rock bands... so much so that I was concerned it could end up being too much. But after watching a full set, it was clear that those bearded bands of the past were really just an influence, even if stronger in some songs than others. The Sheepdogs have got the 70's look, they've got the sound, and they really make it work.