All kinds of heat: NXNE weekend

by Laura Eley & Kateryna Topol | photos by Samuel Engelking

Friday night saw an early show from Toronto natives, Wildlife, at the Mod Club Theatre. As people slowly kept wandering into the half empty venue, the band performed a well rehearsed (and lit) set that spoke to their continuing and rapid spread across the indie world (like wildfire, har-har). Lead vocalist, Dean Povinsky, was spot on with delivery, and in between songs genuinely interactive with an appreciative crowd. Creating orchestral sounds magnified by the Mod Club’s ample size, the band’s strength lies in their cadence of vocals and instruments that build into catchy choruses and punctuated melodies.

Travelling north from their New Jersey base, The Ugly Club also played a Friday night set at Rancho Relaxo. As the crowd thickened, the five members delivered an intimate show, while managing to stay upright in the heat. Though it may have been a first musical encounter for some audience members, they offered songs that were laid back and easy to get into. Highlights included “Under the Great Wave”, a keyboarded and soft tempo tune with a serious electric guitar work out, and “Loosen Up”. These guys certainly suit music festivals, and maintain a comfortable appeal.

Further West, Wrongbar brought to us Jane Void and Wayne Doe, the duo that is Some Minor Noise from Toronto. In line with some of the recent up and coming electronic lo-fi bands that spend a decent time producing the sounds SMN without a doubt surprised the crowd. Void’s young energy and what appears as a don’t give a fuck attitude makes them more appealing, they’re like those cool kids sitting in the back of the cafeteria wearing t-shirts no one understands. Wrapping up the set with Pixies’s cover of “Where Is My Mind” definitely set a good mood for the rest of the night.

Saturday night started off with a Vancouver based electro-indie duo Data Romance at the Supermarket’s back room. With only a handful of people in the room Amy Kirkpatrick begun to sing. Less than a verse in mystified people begun to move over from the dinning area with their pints in hands. Everyone kept close to stage, bobbin heads and swinging from side to side in pleasant surprise. Rock on Data Romance. Rock on.

The night also welcomed in the Quiet Company, all the way from Austin, Texas, at Rancho Relaxo. Bearded and burly, the band put on a warm breeze show that featured thoughtful lyrics and contemplative harmonies, offset by a funky, plinking keyboard. Band member, Cody Ackors, also swung in some stylized trombone notes that pushed the group closer towards a deep roots sound. Professing their love for Canada and Tim Horton’s, the five guys finished up a well received set to a full house.

Another Toronto installation, PAPERMAPS, hopped on stage after Quiet Company and began Rancho Relaxo’s wee hours set. Opting to perform a wide collection of new songs set to debut on their upcoming September album, they offered the audience a glimpse into their continuing maturity and establishment of sound. Lead vocalist, Dean Marino (whom we chatted with last summer), was an intense and focused performer and filled each song with a distinct, gravel tone, while bassist, Betty Dimo, followed in a similarly set, unspoiled attention. Enthusiastic crowd reactions bode good things for this band’s future.

Meanwhile at BLK BOX, the dark back corner room of the Great Hall, Ryan Hemsworth took the stage. As people kept piling into the room, filling corners and grabbing on to balcony rails atmosphere quickly started to feel like the gates to hell swung open. Hot. So damn hot! In no time the BLK BOX filled to capacity, people crowded around the stage, dancing, jumping, reaching for the stars. If anyone was worth the wait and the heat and that sweaty guys who kept rubbing against me it would be this guy.

See more NXNE concert photos here