I'm sitting in the Regina International Airport right now and even though I'm from small town Manitoba, I'll say it: Regina is kinda dull. Still, I'm off to Edmonton (uhhh...) and Vancouver (yay) soon. All the same, a hats off to the Bushwakker Microbrew: your beer added a bit more fun into the city that rhymes with fun (thanks Ritchie).
In the meantime, this video is too hilarious not to share. Mastodon... so hot right now. Props to Willsy and Shartshorts for peddling the wares.
-Fighting through the shadows, grab a hold and make your amends.
Here I sit looking out the window at my picturesque farm in the middle of nowhere in small town Manitoba, and what is on my mind? Epic, ridiculous metal. I have to give huge props to Jer and Rob from Shaking Judy for introducing this band to me, whether they're aware or not (yup, I was on your facebooks, creeping your posts).
I found myself nearly rolling on the floor, wetting my pants the first time I watched a video by the awesome force that is Red Fang. They're a prog-ish metal, punky, riff heavy quartet from Portland, Orgeon with a feel that comes across ever such a little bit like Mastodon (minus a whole shitload of acid). I have to admit, my first attraction to this band was their hilarious music videos. The first video I saw for a song called Prehistoric Dog, features the band building armour out of old beer cans and taking on a hoard of LARPers. Just watch:
The second video simply pushed them over the top and forced my hand to have to publish something about these guys. It is the ultimate fuck you to the music biz as the band received a cheque for $5000 and the entire video shows them pissing away every last dime in the most metal, and hilarious ways possible.
However, somewhere in this haze of beer cans, exploding water mellon, missing limbs and fire, I neglected one very important point: this band fucking rocks. Invoking the spirit of old metal bands like Sabbath, Red Fang collides head bobbing, epic riffs with chuggy bass & drums alongside dark, grimey vocals, likely singing about D&D and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
In short... sign me up for the fan list.
-I won't be your prophet and I won't be your common sense
Am I amazed that I was back in a venue only 2 days after enduring more NXNE than any human being knocking on 30 should have to endure? Of course I am: I wouldn't have made a big deal out of in in that last sentence if I wasn't.
But all the same, Daylight for Deadeyes,were playing the Horseshoe on a Tuesday night, and while I expressed my general scorn for the 'shoe over NXNE, these boys know how to rock the house and, being Tuesday, it was a free show, so I really had no excuse.
I'd only seen DFD a couple times before this and both were at pub/cover gigs, so I hadn't had a proper chance to enjoy more of their originals. I knew they were tight as all hell, but what I didn't know was that they run a wide gambit of diverse and catchy tunes. From partying rockers, to swaggering swillers to heartfelt ballads, sometimes I almost felt like I was listening to a few different bands. For a sober 9pm at the shoe, they even managed to get a few people moving, which in my books is worthy of some serious applause.
My only negative comment is that they didn't play my favorite song:
Also, I hear a rumor that they might be playing another show on July 23rd. Just sayin.
-To see her truth without her lies was enough to see euphoria released
Night 3... always the night which becomes so difficult to dive into. You've had your warm up, you hit it hard on night 2 and suddenly you realize you've saved nothing for the end. However, night 3 also ends up being the greatest night of music you've ever seen.
I spent the day playing volleyball at the beaches, sitting in a hot tub sipping beer and eating BBQ, so it would be difficult to say that I wasn't already in a decent state of mind. But however strong the lull of sitting on my patio was, we made the move out the door just before 9.
Bovine was the first stop where I, after following them for almost a year, saw Hot Kid for the very first time live. The energy brought to that stage was unsurpassed at the festival. There's putting it all out there and then there is what Shiloh and Robbie from Hot Kid left on the stage. An absolute terror of a two piece, HK droned through the PA system like electronic exorcism. However, I do need to profess that my mind was feeling lazy and their abrasive sound, while impressive, wasn't exactly what I was looking for at that moment. Right then and there, I wanted my music spoon fed to me.
The Hideout was next and we caught the tail end of a set by The Goodluck Assembly. In stark contrast to the last set, this was a band who normally, I would get a bit bored at. Still, in my lazy ways, I found myself drawn to their ambient, heavily layered, polished sound. That said, I only caught the last two songs, so who knows if they would have stood the test of time, grown on me, or just simmered somewhere in the middle.
At 10pm, I finally had my NXNE experience: a complete unknown to me stepped out on the stage and blew my mind. Little Foot Long Foot is a Toronto band which has been hiding in plain sight under my nose and I've been oblivious to their grimey, bluesy, bigass sound. A three piece of guitar, drums and keys, this band finds a way to make intricate riffs and layers (thanks to the keys... a nice change from bass) into such earthy, simple, drawing tunes. Then I found out that Ian Blurton produced them, and suddenly everything made sense. I should really just follow what he's been working on whenever I'm looking for new music, because awesome people are just drawn to the man.
And of course, directly beside my dark horse award, we have my vote for best set of the festival, Mr. Jordan Cook. If you've followed this blog at all, you know that Jordan is a personal idol of mine and last night was only the 2nd time I've seen him live (come east more often!). I, perhaps foolishly, called out that Jordan would be the best thing to happen at NXNE to my comrades and as a testament to this man's incredible guitar playing, grimey voice and deity-like stage presence, every person I was with last night agreed unequivocally.
As though his set couldn't get any better, with around 3 songs left, the dancer made her annual appearance. Last year, while watching a great Dutch band, De Staat, a woman began to stretch before launching into one of the most practiced stripper dances I have ever seen, directly in front of the stage. Iain and I began to consider this woman myth, or a figment of our drunken imaginations, however, last night, she was back, just for Jordan.
At that point, I could have called my night a success and gone home. But, we were all loosened up and figured that if it was the last night, we might as well make it a good one. We crawled up to the Elmo to catch the bulk of The Coppertone's set. I fell in love with this band when I saw them play a Steamwhistle Unsigned show back in the winter. However, the world suddenly had the potential to implode as I had now witnessed two blues rock bands fronted by beautiful redheaded women of eerie power. While Coppertone put on an amazing set which I positively loved, my mind couldn't help but drift back to Little Foot Long Foot, who gave so much more for the audience to lap up. Maybe it was the venue size, maybe it was the crowd. Either way, rock had been rolled.
Everyone looked like they needed a cigarette after sex, so we decided to take a quick break and get some nosh at Red Room. Platters of cheap deep fried tofu and noodles later, the bulk of our entourage decided to answer the call home. However, Blesch convinced me that we still had 1 more band in us. So, we went up to the Silver Dollar for one last hurrah.
Here, we caught most of the set of a crazy little band from Nashville called Bad Cop. They were energetic, they were rocking, they were borderline psychotic and for the first few songs, this band really grabbed me. However, we ended up not sticking for the whole set since after a while, that zany, intense energy began to come off a bit false. At one point, it felt more like the band was being weird for the cameras then for themselves. Once again, great music... I just wish that's what the band had been focusing on.
And then... it was bed time. I need breakfast, so I won't be concluding NXNE here... I've got a bit of a summary in mind for tomorrow which includes some good, and a bit of bad which needs to be aired.
So apparently I scuffed somebody's pumas in the mosh pit on Thursday, because some people sure seemed to be upset with me. As such, today we're going to take a different approach to reviewing last night by invoking mother's law: if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all (though my blog hasn't seen this much action in 4 years... I think we're up to a whole 10 readers!).
We were 6 strong to start the night and had one goal in mind: absolute personal destruction.
We walked through the doors of Sneaks at 8pm to see Sandman Viper Command. I first learned of these boys at a random, somewhat secret, nacho, rooftop party at last year's NXNE. They were one of my finds of the festival. This year, they put on an incredibly tight set, but there was something odd about seeing them when the sun was still up. Odder still was the fact that Ben bought Jager shots when the sun was still up. That's more of an apertif in my mind.
After SVP, we had no real agenda aside from C'Mon at the shoe at 11, so the wandering began. We poked our heads into Comfort Zone around 9. There we saw a band called The Young Things... another band from NY. They were trying to pull of a bit of a surf rock revival thing. Their drummer marched to a different beat... and good for him. Their lyrics really struck a chord with me, obviously aimed at the hard working everyman, "I've got a case of the Mondays". And they wore interesting coloured pants... see I even took a picture:
Through a scheduling conflict, we didn't quite make their whole set. We quickly skipped down to the Elmo to see what else we could catch before 10. Upstairs was a band called Modern Boys Modern Girls, which they self label their sound as 'garage soul rock n roll'. I agree that they, as mortal individuals, all likely have souls, unless you don't believe in that sort of thing. Still I can guarantee at some point, they have all been in a garage. I got a slight case of vertigo from being on the 2nd floor, so then we moved downstairs.
Fuck Montreal... I have absolutely nothing to say about this band.
Disheartened (not from the bands... just generally of course), we took to the streets and did a bit of wandering. At this point, the booze had been flowing nicely, we'd somehow grown a 7th member, and the fresh air did us some good. We gravitated towards The Hideout, since nothing ever goes wrong there.
Enter the Polymorphines. These boys came down from Ottawa to play some good 'ol swaggering rock 'n roll. I'm not going to say it was the most original band I've ever heard (not that that's a bad thing) but they were tight, they put a lot of energy into their set and generally had fun on stage. This was a harder task than you think since the place was empty and the crowd was ABSOLUTELY DEAD. However, I digress, this is a much larger issue which I intend to tackle in a far more verbose rant once this festival is all over.
Off to the 'shoe, C'Mon for the earholes. This set reminded me of two important facts: I fucking love C'Mon and I fucking hate the Horseshoe. The shoe is a black hole of energy that fills with scenesters and industry-types and proceeds to suck the life out of everyone and everything that dares to move... not that that's a bad thing. Even Sir Ian was disappointed with the crowd, as well as quite fucked up on something. However, ever the professional, he still churned out one of the most incredible sets of the festival, and dove into the crowd to play an extended solo in the middle of hundreds of people while tuning his guitar all over the place.
Set ends, free rum, I was in a photoshoot, almost sneezed all over the guitarist from Billy Talent, and we were off to the Bovine! Cunter was there, representing both the bands Alexisonfire and Moneen. After having a rough start to the night, this band was exactly what we needed to get back on track. Playing 30-45 second songs in rapid succession, this throwback to the Bad Brains era was insane enough to even get a Toronto crowd moshing like it was the apocalypse. Observe:
I then walked out onto the street, for some reason alone, and this passed me by, reminding me why even through all the bullshit, NXNE can still be a good time:
At this point, I'd be lying if I said I was sober enough to write objectively about what we saw. I was in Velvet Underground, back in Sneaks, back in Comfort Zone and ended up at Elmo again, but most of those 2 or 3 hours are a haze. Thank you to Sandman Viper Command, C'Mon, Cunter and the random umpa band for making my night awesome. To everyone else, thanks for coming out.
First of all, I know that Wednesday was the first day of NXNE, but I was busy, so let's just not talk about it.
Seriously... let it go.
Now then, in typical fashion we've got our bracelets and a crew ready to destroy the known universe this week. However, we also must accept this year that we're old and can't quite do it the same as we used to. This meant only 5 rounds of Jager last night and we didn't stay until extended close (4am!!)
My first NXNE band was Rusty at Dundas square. However, I was in a suit, just coming from a reception, so I didn't feel like moshing just yet. So, I went home, changed, rallied the troops and we hit the town. We started out West at Hard Luck bar since we recognized a few names and have grown to love the place. Also, whenever I'm there, I like to do this:
We walked in to Hard Luck to hear a band called Decibel from New York playing. All week, I will be grouping bands into two catagories: those who are good and those who I am angry that they are playing NXNE and therefore The Noble Rogues are not. Decibel most definitely fell into the latter. I'm trying something new this year and actually taking review notes on my phone to help me write these blog entries. This entry ended up being a back and forth between myself and Blechschmidt:
Shane: Decibel - weird, trippy, rapish, bad, wanna be rappers
Ian: Emphasis on bad
Shane: But the organic instrumentation is good
However, the band we had come to see, Mad Ones, saved the day. Mad Ones are like a great 90s rock/grunge band if you shot the bassist. They're a 2 piece from TO and yet they still manage to pump out a huge, complex but still accessible sound. This was the 2nd time I'd ever seen them and once again, they were high energy, tight and all around a great set. See horrible video quality below proving thusly:
Shots ensued and we made our exit to get some of the best (read: cheap and large) pizza I've had in the city. On the way out, we ran into some old comrades in the band The oOohh Baby Gimme Mores. We met them back when we were a two piece and they were a two piece. However, both of us had now expanded to a 4 piece, so it was an adorable conversation about growing and learning to love. We wanted to stick around for their set, and even lied and said we would, but the NXNEasternly wind had started to blow.
Wandered past some decent sounds at Bovine and Velvet, but we settled in at my favorite venue in the city, The Hideout. We just missed the tail of someone's set but were about to have a lot of fun. The New Enemy was a wonderful blend of Pennywise and Refused. I know that makes no sense but I was drunk and you should be used to this kind of behaviour if you've read this blog before. Either way, Blechschmidt, god bless his little, now american soul, took to the floor and started to rip up the pit like nobody's business. I quickly skulled my beer and followed suit. TNE were a lot of fun and had the right mix of energy and my blood-alcohol level that we moshed like we were 21 again (or at least dating a 21 year old.... bazzzzinnngg!). Let's put it this way: the band was good enough to keep 4 grown men moshing for the bulk of a 40m set, in the middle of an empty dance floor.
We began to slink out the door, sweaty and disgusting, and flag a cab. Ian tried to convince me to stick around for one more band, but I acted as the voice of reason. We had a big weekend ahead of us and we were almost 30. Hell, in his case, he was 30, so I'm not even sure why I was talking to him.
PS: Kellye, I think Ian wins for drunk text of the night... I just found this on FB: " Incoherent after one ingt. Happy to say that we brought the party to Hideoout. NNE for the win. MOAR@@@@!!!!!"
There were a lot of things that I didn't expect to be doing last weekend. I didn't expect to be hit by a car, I didn't expect to BBQ for 4 days straight, I didn't expect to drink quite so much on Friday night and I didn't expect to be interviewing one of my rock n roll heroes. However, Sarah from MusicSheBlogged, got in touch with me about filling in for her since she couldn't make the interview. So, Sunday afternoon at a small, locally owned Tex-Mex restaurant (great place if you're looking lahacienda.ca), there I sat across from Ian Blurton; a man who has been a part of the Canadian independent rock scene for almost 30 years. He has defined the sound of Canadian rock n roll through his bands C'Mon, Bionic, Blurtonia and Change of Heart, as well as produced some incredibly influential bands such as the Weakerthans, Tricky Woo, Rheostatics, Cursed, and a personal favorite, Huron.
And yet, as I sat across from a man who has been rocking out since around the time I was but a twinkle in my father's eye, I couldn't help but feel I was just shooting the shit with a neighbour or some guy I shared a beer with at a concert. We chatted about music, hockey, concerts and the summer. Ian stuck around after we shut the camera down while the two of us traded what we were listening to these days and what was going on in life OTHER than music (is there really anything else?). He was even nice enough to help me record a pitch for my band's upcoming album release (July 16 in Montreal, July 23 in Toronto... just sayin) and ask me a few questions.
In short, hats off to you, Sir Ian. You truly have earned your knighthood, not simply for your service to rock n roll, but for being an all around awesome dude.
-Soft are the words that are spoke though their meaning revokes any hope of love
So, if you weren't sure, Bran Van 3000 has a new album coming out. I know this because each Monday, a crew of my classmates and I get together at a small pub near school and celebrate the birthday of someone dead and or famous (if you're curious... last night was the Dali Lama). But I digress...
For the past few Mondays, each time I went to the bathroom, there was a large digital ad display showing commercials on loop. It seemed each time I went down there, a commercial played for the new BV3 album, as though my bladder control were tied to their marketing team. Behind the commercial was a fantastic song playing with lucious, ambient layers and some great vocal harmonies.
So, I went home a couple of weeks ago and tried to find the song on the BV3 site. The issue is that they only had 30s clips of songs on the site, and none of them represented what I had heard while relieving myself.
Fast forward to last night and I'm glad that our pub is a fairly quiet place. Had it been slightly more frequented, then someone would have walked into the bathroom while I held my mobile phone up with the receiver pointed towards the display ad just above a urinal, trying to get Soundhound to recognize my siren.
But I got it....
-Your words ring cold and clear but you see my dear these words are a lie