by Laura Eley & Kateryna Topol | photos by Samuel Engelking
Once again, Toronto’s annual NXNE festival has come and gone, and not without leaving a bevy of impressions, good, bad, and otherwise. This year Quip was out in full force trolling the venues with the sole purpose of seeing some crisp and semi-discovered talent.
Cleveland’s The Lighthouse and the Whaler played a Thursday night show at the Cameron House. These five sandaled musicians brought a light-hearted set that mixed percussion, guitars, a keyboard, xylophone, violin, and tambourine, amongst other folk-laden instruments too quickly swapped to catch. Like ruffian fishermen/women fresh from pulling in the day’s catch, their sound was organically rolled into a cheerful harmonization of staccato sounds that were hooking and exposed, in a busker-sorta-way. Surprisingly accurate (remember, they’re from Ohio) to the insinuation of quiet town Maritimers their band name suggests.
Just a few streets over The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern filled for Dan Deacon’s live set. To say that this was different would be an understatement. Those who have seen Deacon before are fully aware of the archaic theatrics that take place during the show. Lighthouses rule and stages are overrated. Deacon set up his nest in the middle of the crowd and that point became the centre of the tsunami that took hold of the bar for nearly an hour. Deacon’s last album, America, was a rather cheerful one but to hear it performed live with crowds of people making human hallways, running around in circles and dancing per Deacon’s orders certainly set the stage for America we all may wish for – chilled out and loving life.
Tearing a page from Tim Curry’s Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Christian Hansen, a pair of relocated Edmontonians, also hit the NXNE Thursday night stage at the Hideout. Let’s set the scene: a thin crowd fiddling with their smart phones, squatting in dark corners, wistfully waiting solo over pints. And then Christian Hansen and keyboardist/vocalist, Molly Flood (with her own keyboard fan!), gave the thumbs-up and in came the energy tsunami. These two have got “it”, whatever that proverbial “it” is, and from the first note to the last, Red Bulled their way through each and every song, including some serious acrobatic moves. They offered an ’80s harkening performance filled with heavy, electronic beats and tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Filling the crowd with smiles and movement (even the soundman had a perma-grin) this pair gave a sassy, fun, and well-worth-it show.
See more NXNE concert photos here