By Laura Eley
In an (apparent) move to align top Canadian music influencers more closely with the selection of NXNE performers, this year’s festival saw the launch of Club Land – a series featuring intimate bar showcases, (harkening back to the NXNE of years gone by), curated by some of the city’s brightest talents; from Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, to CBC’s Raina Douris, Shad, Ian D’Sza of Billy Talent, and July Talk’s Leah Fay.
Quip headed to Fay’s Tuesday showcase at The Baby G, featuring an eclectic line-up of artists, underscored by Emperor X and Regina Gently.
A former high school teacher, Emperor X – otherwise known as Chad Matheny – diverted his set between the venue’s floor and stage, creating a richly interactive and immersive audience experience. Bearing a striking vocal resemblance to comedian-actor-director-writer, David Cross, Matheny’s descriptive songs wove beautiful real-life narratives – take, for example, his song “€30,000” that details his battle with testicular cancer – paired with the catchy melodies from his acoustic guitar. With an impressive discography contained in the seven albums behind him, Matheny delivered a fun, unpretentious set, that felt almost camp-like in atmosphere — particularly beneath the spiralled streamers that lined the ceiling. Matheny was an absolute delight to observe, and even graciously took requests, including one directly from Fay: “Erica Western Teleport”.
Following Emperor X, was the enigmatic Regina Gently, formerly known as Light Fires. Like a can of the now discontinued Jolt Cola, Gently packed a punch (well, high kick) with her pulsating, synth party beats. A performer to her core, Gently was joined on stage by a high-power dancer, and together they offered an energetic set reminiscent of a metallic disco. A self-proclaimed Cabbagetown resident, Gently previously teamed-up with acclaimed Canadian composer, Owen Pallett, on her 2013 release “Dependent”, and is in the process of creating new tunes under her new moniker. We’re looking forward to this upcoming work and (inevitable) ensuing dance parties.