Concerts Concerts NXNE 2010: Said The Whale, Hot Hot Heat, Hollerado, The North

NXNE 2010: Said The Whale, Hot Hot Heat, Hollerado, The North

Hollerado at Hard Rock
Said The Whale, Hot Hot Heat, Hollerado, The North
Toronto, Ontario
June 18, 2010

Review and Photos by: Pete Nema

I know NXNE is a great opportunity to see and hear new talent, but sometimes you just have to be a little selfish and stick with what you already know and love. For me, an early set by the fantastic Vancouver-based Said The Whale started out a night filled with free beverages, sweaty rock, and good times.

Said The Whale

Playing an early daylight set to reasonably full Yonge-Dundas Square, it was good to see Said The Whale playing a larger stage. Their 2009 album Islands Disappear ended up in spot #2 of my Top 10 of 2009, and so it's fair to say I'm a bit of a fan. The band played a number of the best songs from that album, as well as a few older compositions. Tyler Bancroft (vocals, guitar) and Ben Worcester (vocals, guitar) trade off lead vocals, each bringing their own vocal style to the consistently good compositions. Their 40 minute set felt far too short, leaving me hoping that they come back to Toronto soon.

Said The Whale at Yonge-Dundas Square   Said The Whale at Yonge-Dundas Square   Said The Whale at Yonge-Dundas Square   Said The Whale at Yonge-Dundas Square   Said The Whale at Yonge-Dundas Square   Said The Whale at Yonge-Dundas Square   Said The Whale at Yonge-Dundas Square   Said The Whale at Yonge-Dundas Square   Said The Whale at Yonge-Dundas Square  

Hot Hot Heat

I've been listening to Hot Hot Heat since 2002, but hadn't yet managed to see them perform (except for about half of a song during CMW), so when I received an invitation to see them play an guestlist-only show on the Friday of NXNE, I decided to take them up on it. The venue was Red Bull Headquarters on Queen West, a location with an entrance that is incredibly inconspicuous — if it wasn't for the women with clipboards standing out front, I very likely would have walked right past it.

Anyway, the venue is a slick, white-painted room that definitely looks cool, but unfortunately the acoustics are non-ideal. Vodka and Red Bull was being served at the two bars, and platters of tasty little sandwiches were being served. Hot Hot Heat wisely waited for the room to fill up before taking the stage, and once they did, everyone moved forward surrounding the ground level stage on two sides. It was incredibly intimate, with some people standing just inches from Steve Bays (vocals, keyboard). The volume was cranked, possibly in an attempt to hide the poor acoustics of the room. The audience was largely docile yet interested, but just a different kind of reaction than you would see at venues like the Horseshoe Tavern. If you were on Queen West that night, you know a power outage cast darkness on a number of venues, which included the Red Bull HQ, causing Hot Hot Heat's set to end with a blackout. It didn't prevent people from sticking around and chatting in a room lit only be the emergency exit light.

Hot Hot Heat was recently added to the Dine Alone Records line-up and released a new album called Future Breeds on June 8th. I haven't actually heard the full album yet, so when I met Steve Bays in the darkness, I said "Good to meet you, I'm a fan of your earlier stuff," to which he responded "Good to meet you too, thanks, and I'm sorry about the later stuff." Ha! I explained I just hadn't heard the new album yet, aside from what they just played, but I think he already understood.

Info: Hot Hot Heat
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Video: 21@12

Hot Hot Heat at Red Bull Headquarters   Hot Hot Heat at Red Bull Headquarters   Hot Hot Heat at Red Bull Headquarters   Hot Hot Heat at Red Bull Headquarters   Hot Hot Heat at Red Bull Headquarters   Hot Hot Heat at Red Bull Headquarters   Hot Hot Heat at Red Bull Headquarters  

Hollerado

I had never been to the Hard Rock before, and was surprised to see both Amos The Transparent (covered in a separate article) and Hollerado booked to play back-to-back sets there. It turns out the music venue is upstairs at the Hard Rock, and the place is actually pretty nice. Good sound, good lighting, and decent stage. It turned out that the night was hosted by Live 88.5 FM and was line-up of bands from their Big Money Shot contest. When I arrived on the scene, there was an open bar courtesy of Live 88.5 FM, of which many people were taking advantage. The Hollerado set opened with confetti blasts, and included both streamers and more confetti at key points. The band played a reckless balls-out set that included Menno Versteeg (vocals, guitar) getting lightly mauled by some fans as he jumped to the floor to rock out during the final song "Do The Doot Da Doot Doo", resulting in his guitar and pedals getting disconnected. Attempts were made to reconnect, but the cables were all mixed up. It was probably anti-climactic for Menno, but he played through to the end of the song, and with the audience going nuts, it's possible only half of them even noticed. I left the Hard Rock fully charged.

Hollerado at Hard Rock   Hollerado at Hard Rock   Hollerado at Hard Rock   Hollerado at Hard Rock   Hollerado at Hard Rock   Hollerado at Hard Rock   Hollerado at Hard Rock   Hollerado at Hard Rock   Hollerado at Hard Rock   Hollerado at Hard Rock  

The North

There are a lot of things I could have done at this point, but after all the free drinks, I decided to head to the Cadillac Lounge to have one more drink with a friend and see The North, a band that includes Neal Lyons (guitar) who is a friend of illScarlett (and is immortalized in their song "One-A") as well as lead female vocalist Bernadette. It's been a while since I've seen them play, and during that time, they've added guitarist Kirt Godwin who added quite a bit to their sound. A sound that has removed a little of the stain in their self-described country-stained rock 'n' roll.

The North put together a 7 part documentary, called LGFUK!, of their 2010 tour in the U.K.

Info: The North
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Video: What's My Name

The North at Cadillac Lounge   The North at Cadillac Lounge   The North at Cadillac Lounge   The North at Cadillac Lounge   The North at Cadillac Lounge