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.