Monday, June 23, 2008

lagging tales: NxNE day 3

Day three of North by Northeast was somewhat of a treasure. Besides having worked eight hour days both Friday and Saturday off of two to three hours of sleep each night, I held up my strength for the festival's finale.

My retail job announced in the morning of that day that Wintersleep would be playing outside a free concert as soon as my shift was over. Needless to say, I was more than pleased as an easy-excitable person who's almost obsessed with said East Coast rockers. It was a short set, but made me a happy camper as they played all of the songs off of their latest album Welcome To The Night Sky. It also reminded me of how much I loved this city, with all of its opportunities (especially if they are free and unexpected). And it took away the pain of standing on my feet for two days just for that short moment. P.S. my retail job is NOT sears.

So, that night, I attended CBC Radio 3's showcase at the Horseshoe Tavern. The pain in my feet worsened with each band unfortunately and I wasn't the happiest concert-goer. However, the night was not terrible.

Rebekah Higgs played first, and she assembled a crew of talented folks for her back up including Laura Barrett and Paul Aucoin. She's beautiful and played just as beautiful songs for her opening set. What's odd is that she not only looks completely different in her pictures on MySpace but also her voice sounds different (and by that I mean on MySpace she sounds like Feist). But her set was nice, breezy, and collected.

Next up was a band I've been waiting to see for ages: Spiral Beach. I'm marveled at their talent at such a young age (rather, my age) and even though you could tell their set was pretty different from when they actually play (i.e. this was in front of industry people, family, older people/not their usual crowd) but they did their best with energy and charisma. Singer Maddy seemed to be holding back a little and drummer Daniel was covered by the antics of bassist and guitarist Dorian and Airick, but it was still a great performance.

Hm... Hey Rosetta! was next.. I don't remember much about them. They were all for the dramatics yet somehow everyone but the front man looked bored out of their minds, or at least really tired. Is it weird that every time I hear their name I think they're a hardcore band? And they are very, very not. The music was pretty and something I'd fall asleep soothingly to, but I still cannot figure out why everyone drools over this band. Even Grant Lawrence, whom I had the pleasure of meeting later on in the night (and actually asked my opinion about certain bands, for example Smothered in Hugs) introduced them as his favourite East Coast band. What am I missing?

By that point, my feet were in excruciating pain and I wasn't digging the hot atmosphere that took hours for me to be able to get to the bar and aquire a drink of water. But I wanted to see Matt Mays & El Torpedo. Who, for some reason, I also thought would be different than they actually are. As in for some reason I went thinking they were folksy but are actually pretty hard rock. The music was good and it was fun watching them and their audience's energy bounce (especially because Mays came dressed very blatantly as a trucker) but the crowd got a little annoying after a while as I was dodging beer bottles like it was that shooting ducks game for no reason.

Let's see... The D'ubervilles were next. They were pretty fun to watch, especially because they're all so fabulously goofy looking. There were colours, crazy grooves, and hand claps! That all makes for a good time. I'd see them again.

This last part might be slightly embarrassing, but I must say it. I fell asleep during Ladyhawk. It was only for a few minutes during their insane last song, but.. sooorrry Ladyhawk fans.

lagging tales: NxNE part 2

Day Two (North By Northeast festival, Friday June 13), for me, wasn't as great. It started with Dallas Green look-a-likes and ended with a Bedouin Soundclash set I didn't catch. (The end for me was another man associated with Mr. CC).

My highlight: Moneen. I didn't have to write a report card, and was a little put down about it, because the set included a girl fight, crowd surfers that almost took down parts of the ceiling, insane asian boys moshing together, and quite a number of bruises. Oh well. Moneen isn't exactly a band I listen to often (or in the past year) but they sure put on one hell of a show, especially in a place such as the upstairs of the El Mocambo.

The openers I don't feel much like talking about: Songs From A Room, Casey Baker & The Buffalo Sinners, and Black Lungs.

Other highlights: A leaking ceiling, actually finding people I knew there to hang out with, being completely thrown off because I hadn't been to a hardcore show in a year, and a large fan. Oh and being completely drenched by rain afterwards.

lagging tales: NxNE part 1

So this is more than a week after North by Northeast, the Canadian equal to Austin's slightly better festival. But I reviewed different shows each night for ChartAttack's report cards and wanted to go even further here on Round Letters. So this is my recap of night one: East Coast night at the Rivoli, Thursday June 12.

First up, Smothered in Hugs (seeing as I have already forgotten the first opener's name besides the fact that he played nice acoustic songs with about 20 people in the room after stalling as long as he could at the bar). For a band with such a cute and cuddly name, you'd think they'd be all power-pop, packed with energy, and above all, cute. All of this they were not. Yes they had some nice shoegazin' tunes that I remember tapping my foot to and thinking it wasn't half bad, but I gotta say, I was the most dissapointed by their name as they looked like they had either been smothered in too many hugs and now fear touching contact or they just wanted to be ironic. Not worth it, boys.

Second, Mardeen. One of the most talked about bands of the festival. They rocked and took me by surprise. Having a rotating cast of vocalists, all with different vocal abilities, was really refreshing to see. They're mostly pop-rock hooks, but catchy works well for them. Plus the fact that they were raging drunk the entire night singing in other bands' faces was pretty entertaining as well.

Thirdly, Two Hours Traffic. Fun times! I may have been a little miffed with the people crowding in front of me, but I eventually got over it and had fun listening and hopping (I might be the only person in Toronto who does that) to the pop that is not annoying in the least like the rest of pop music I hear. They're charming, sunny, and talented. No wonder these boys were nominated for this year's Polaris.

And lastly, The Danks. Most of the crowd made the horrific mistake of leaving after THT and missing what is the new band that actually contained half of the preceeding band. But for starting afresh and having a leader that looks like he wishes he could be in the Strokes, they were not only really great musically but of course, cute to look at. But past that, they were, after Mardeen for me, a great discovery.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

don't you be a traffic light

i have never wanted free time more. it pains me to watch my roomates relax. why is one measely history class and random retail hours consuming my life? it shouldn't, that's for sure. three more weeks. three more weeks. three. more. weeks. and this hell is over. i am being spoiled. but when i am consumed in a messy room, hearing the Simpsons on television upstairs, and daydreaming about how I'm going to London in January, thinking about writing a 2500 word history paper is not my cup o' tea.

i took a nap today on my office's uncomfortable couch with a child-like pillow and blanket with truck fabric. oddly enough, it was the best nap i've had in a while.