Friday, 2 July 2010

NXNE Review 2010

So far I have been to every NXNE and CMW since the first ones and this year was certainly one of them. Actually I do think that they have put more effort into the lineup for NXNE this year both for bands and films, they also extended the schedule to cover both Wednesday and Sunday on either side of the weekend. To bad I didn't get my pass until the Thursday and so missed The Eagles of Death Metal and The Blue Van. Which means I kicked things off with....

Thursday June 17;
10pm ~ X ~ Dundas Square
Been looking forward to this even before I heard it was going to happen. X, with Billy Zoom, haven't played outside of L.A. since the 1980's so I've actually not seen them before. Damn if it wasn't a rock solid as you could have asked for. Dundas Square is not exactly the most intimate venue but the sound was decent all things considered. Billy always manages to look like he is the happiest person in the room while still looking like the coolest, which is harder than you think. And he played like a well oiled machine. Ditto for D.J. Bonebrake and John Doe. Xeane looked healthy too which was nice. The vocals were a little ragged of course but that was always one of their charms.
12am ~ Elliott Brood ~ The Horseshoe
I haven't seen them for awhile and it was kind of a sort set but they manage to make their goth-grass work as a foot stomping crowd pleaser. Their other stuff sounds more like Neil Young & Buffalo Springfield.
1am ~ The 222's ~ The Bovine
Another old school punk band reuniting for another kick at the can. This one's from Montreal and is a good example of basic pre-hardcore punk. Nothing special but solid.
2am ~ The Junction ~ The Horseshoe
Your basic indie guitar type band. It's OK but nothing that sticks in my mind five seconds after it's done.
3am ~ The Soft Pack ~ The Silver Dollar
One of the "surprise" TBA guests. The Pack, from San Diego, do a full on noisy guitar fest with driving bass lines and a whole lotta feedback. Cool. Worth seeing again. Friday June 18;

10:30pm (approx) ~ Flatfoot 56 ~ The Hard Luck Bar
OK not really part of NXNE but what the Hell. I had the choice between getting crammed into the show to see Mudhoney, Man or Astroman and the Poisoned Arrows or going to the Hard Luck for the Brains. I chose the Brains, hadn't heard the openers Flatfoot 56. They are a Dropkick Murphys type Celtic Punk band with a bagpiper and mandolin player. Unlike some other bands of this type, like umm... the Murphys, you can actually hear the mandolin and piper, and they are actually really good players,especially the mandolin. They did a cool cover of Screaching Weasel's "Cool Kids", with bagpipes yet!
12am (approx) ~ The Brains ~ The Hard Luck Bar ~
The best Psychobilly in Montreal (if not Canada) are back with a new cd. I've seen them plenty of times and they always pretty much do the same thing, but they do it really well. Actually there was one new thing, a version of "Rock this town" using the mandolin player from Flatfoot 56 that really should make it to the next Brains cd, and probably will.
2am ~ The Schomberg Fair ~ Rancho Relaxo ~
This country/goth combo were not as rootsy as their cd, but then again I only got to see a few songs.
3am ~ The Cheap Speakers ~ Rancho Relaxo ~
A solid somewhat 60's ish guitar rock trio worth further exploration.

Saturday June 19;
9:30pm ~ Iggy and The Stooges ~ Dundas Square ~
I figured that a free Stooges show (with the return of James Williamson, something we never thought would happen) would be insane, turns out it was worse than that. Dundas square was jam packed with every freak in the city including unfortunately the two groups I most hate to see at punk shows;
Exhibit a) The Drunken Frat Boy/Jock type who take any chance to do their Drunken Frat Boy/Jock mosh which basically the same as the thing that football players do before they head out to the field where they grab each other by the shoulders and bang their heads together, except now they get to do that to much smaller people who aren't wearing helmets cause it's "punk rock man!" To them I say; "Die you assholes! Go back and listen to those gangsta rap songs about date rape like you usually do. Fuck off already!"
Exhibit b) The Hard Core Squeegee Punks, some of them are ok and even funny enough, but then there's those ones with their "we're punker than you" attitude and their "we're too punk to bathe" look, all encased in black leather and spikes no matter how hot it is. Always shoving their way through the crowd and daring anyone to speak up and give them an excuse to beat somebody up. To them I say; "Die you assholes! Go hang out with the frat boys, you have more in common than you'd like to admit. Fuck off already!"
Anyway the crowd was so dense and packed that I and others around me had to take it on faith that that was in fact Iggy up there and not just a backing track since it was literally impossible to actually see anything at all. So much as I would have normally would have enjoyed touching base with all the folks I ran into that I haven't seen in ages I had to get out of that sweaty frustrating mass. So I wandered over to the side and climbed over a railing and behind the drinking area to get to stage left where some other folks had gotten the same idea. At last it was possible to see the band since they never moved from the front of Rock Action's drum kit the whole time. Occasionally Iggy himself would shimmy his way over as well and accept the accolades from the smaller crowd at the side. The first few times this happened some people who had all-access passes to be further up on stage left would all stand up and block our view, until some guys started chanting "Down in front! Down in front!" After a couple of times some of the pass holders heard this, turned around, and then actually sat down! To which I say;
"Cudos to you Sirs and Madams; You're a class act."
Did I mention that they did most if not all of raw power along with other stuff from the first two albums and the sound was, all things considered pretty good? Well it was. And that Iggy is still a sweaty, shirtless, toned, leathery, lizard king? Well he is. And the Stooges still kick ass.

11:30pm ~ Moneen ~
Who booked this mess? Who decided to put the Darlings of Chelsea on while the Stooges were playing elsewhere thus guaranteeing that none of their fans or friends would show? I'm surprised the band even showed up, I wouldn't if I were them. Then they put on Moneen, a dreadfully dull indie type band of the type that Sonic Unyon used to sign back in the day, to bore the fuck out of everybody. Actually that's not entirely true as they do have a fair number of sappy fans who immediately left as soon as Moneen did so they wouldn't be contaminated by the Zeros and their old school punk. Kids these days I swear.
12am ~ The Zeros ~ The El Mocambo
Thank you NXNE for putting The Zeros, Stark Naked & the Fleshtones, Drive Like Maria and Man or Astroman on AT THE SAME FUCKING TIME IN COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FUCKING CLUBS! It wouldn't be NXNE with out some piece of randomly stupid booking. On top of which the Man or Astroman gig was one of their secret T.B.A. gigs which was announced via Twitter and gave out THE WRONG FUCKING TIME! Nice one. Anyway.. where was I? Oh right, the Zeros. They are yet another "legendary punk band of the 1980's", this time from L.A. where they were considered "The Mexican Ramones". Actually they had more in common with the Undertones or Teenage Head but what the Hell. They were still looking and sounding pretty well preserved too. This was actually their first gig in Canada ever and they are planning on coming back.
1am ~ The Gin Riots ~ The El Mocambo ~
This vaguely 1960's like Soft Boys type guitar band are getting some good press from England which is in short supply of such bands of late. They were ok but they really didn't belong on this bill though so I'm willing to give them another chance.
2am ~ Porcelin Forehead ~ The El Mocambo ~
And we have another "Legendary Punk band from the 1980's" this time from Ottawa which was not exactly a punk hot spot then or now. Although they were billed as a "hardcore band" and were apparently on a few hardcore comps back in the day (which I may or may not own), they are really a pretty straight up punk band. Not spectacular but solid enough.
2:20am ~ The Darcys ~ Rancho Relaxo ~
They sounded good from the street with a swirling psyche wall of sound, but the Rancho is a notorious sweatbox during the summer, especially when it's packed, which it was. So I got the Hell out of there. Sorry.
2:30am ~ Comanechi ~ The Silver Dollar ~
The hot new thing out of England is a two piece noise band with a cute Japanese girl drumming and yowling incoherently while her male guitarist partner grinds out two chord metal thrashes. He also had a hairdo that literally covered his entire face the entire time so that I actually couldn't tell if he was also Japanese or not until the end. Answer; No. It's energetic live but pretty much of a piece and we'll see if it has any staying power.
3am ~ The Winks ~ Rancho Relaxo ~
An art rock/performance art four piece from Montreal with an electric mandolin, stand up bass, cello and drums; no guitars please, we're art rockers. The girl singer also wore a lacy fairy costume. I only stuck around because I almost never get to hear an electric mandolin. Too band they don't have any songs to go with it.
3:20am ~ The Strange Boys ~ The Silver Dollar ~
Another solid roots rock band from Austin Texas, are there any other kind? I only saw a few songs, including a version of Dusty Springfield's "Son of a preacher man" which was pretty cool. Worth checking out again.

Sunday June 20;
10pm ~ Ali & The Dts ~ The El Mocambo
An Irish band that evokes the Commitments? That's too easy. Actually they're ok but I don't know if we really need a throwback to the pre-punk pub rock r&b of the 1970's. On the other hand we could do much worse and no doubt will. Much much worse.
11pm ~ The DGB ~ Rancho Relaxo ~
A three piece grunge band from Lindsay, Ontario where they apparently remember grunge. Does anybody here remember grunge? No? Oh well.
12am ~ The Archives ~ Rancho Relaxo ~
Another perfectly competent indie guitar band that I couldn't remember anything about once I got home. But I was pretty tired, otherwise I would have gone down to the Bovine for Sixxxer. However I did find one of their cds at the Stooges gig.
1am ~ Sleep For The Night Life ~ Rancho Relaxo ~
An all insturmental jam band that I was too bored to stick around for so I went home, NXNE over and out.

"You Left Me Blue; The Handsome Ned Story" ~
A loving documentary of the founder of the roots rock scene in Toronto in the 1980's until his death in 1987 before he had a chance to finish what would have been his debut album. He woulda been a contender damn it. There should be more footage when the home version comes out and it's worth seeing for anyone who loves the old Queen st. scene.Also has footage from the Handsone Ned Tribute show I helped put together and stage managed back in 2007 so there is an ever so brief glimpse of me stage left at one point, blink and you'll miss it.
"The Blank Generation" ~
Ivan Kral's ultra crude black and white document of the 1970's New York punk scene shot at the time, most of the major and several minor players are here filmed on stage with completely out of synch sound. However no Suicide though or Velvets which is too bad. It's not currently available but I actually have copy of this already and mentioned it to Ivan Kral (who was there), turns out there are a few bootleg copies floating around.
"X;The Unheard Music" ~
A straight forward "making of" doc originally done back in the 1980's the film makers were convinced that X were going to be the next big thing. They were wrong but because they thought so they did a thorough job so we have a good document about X unlike so many of their contemporaries.
"Search and Destroy; Iggy Pop and The Stooges Raw Power" ~
One of those "making of" docs that they make for VH1. Iggy and James Williamson are quite articulate and thoughtful and the talking head experts don't distract which is a bonus. Unfortunately they didn't get to interview the late Ron Asheton and David Bowie. Although Iggy does allow that the notoriously muddy mix of "Raw Power" wasn't Bowie's fault after all.
"Superstonic Sound: The Rebel Dread" ~
A documentary about Clash manager, film maker and DJ Don Letts who turns out to be a great interview. He's the guy on the cover of the first Clash album facing down the police, it turns out he was actually running to get out of the way but what the Hell.
"Visual Alan Audio Vega" ~
A mercifully short, out of focus, absurdly incoherent interview snippet with Suicide front man Alan Vega filtered through enough feed back and distortion to induce migraines. I know that Suicide used to do the same thing kinda but that was still annoying. On the other hand it did conjure up memories of Chris Twoomy's Industrial Video Roadshow.

Note I sadly missed "Circa 1977; The Diodes" part of which was actually shot on my radio show so I really should get around to that, and I also manged to miss out on Man or Astroman, Mudhoney and Drive Like Maria (twice each!) as well as the Poison Aeros and The Blue Van. I can't be everywhere you know.

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