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Festival Review: CoS at North by Northeast 2011

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    nxne 2011 e1303303295607 260x260 Festival Review: CoS at North by Northeast 2011Another North by Northeast music festival is in the books, and with it, the bustling metropolis of Toronto is a little more quieter. Between June 15th and June 19th, an estimated 650 artists representing any and every genre you can think of played well into the Toronto night at close to 50 downtown venues. Streets where a great deal of bars are clumped together, like Queen West, the festival headquarters at the Hyatt Regency hotel on King, as well as the public square at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas crawled wall-to-wall with people nonstop, all looking for the next show to get their fix.

    It was a veritable orgy of live music, with enough choices to literally make people’s heads explode! According to the NXNE schedule, at any given hour there were more than 30 shows going on. Aside from the (somewhat) pocket-sized festival guide, I think cloning machines were the next biggest “must-haves.” Twitter, mobile applications like MyNXNE, and good ol’ fashioned word of mouth played vital roles in keeping folks informed and letting them know of any secret or last-minute shows taking place. No, Death from Above 1979 never appeared, but some bands like Deerhoof, who played very early in the fest, stuck around town to return later as “special guests.” And because the MuchMusic Video Awards went down on June 19th, music celebs like Lady Gaga and Patrick Carney of The Black Keys were frequently spotted around Toronto.

    The weather also couldn’t have cooperated any better, although it did get awfully hot and sticky at times. Not that there was much complaining, as spring seemed to have skipped Toronto altogether. The city was ready for summer, and incredibly amped for “Northby,” as the annual festival is referred to locally. It was obviously impossible to see each and every one of the great bands on the bill, but I sure did my best, braving the humidity (not to mention the four a.m. drinking curfew) to act as a Canadian correspondent for Consequence of Sound. My ultimate goal? To come into contact with a wide range of styles, whether they be punk, indie, folk, or even hip hop. After a short nap, I filed this extensive report, and like a lot of others, I’m already counting down the days to next year’s NXNE!

    -Gilles Leblanc
    Contributing Writer

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    Wednesday, June 15th

    LOOM – The Rivoli – 8:00 p.m.

    loom rivoli2 Festival Review: CoS at North by Northeast 2011

    LOOM is the pseudonym of singer-songwriter Brooke Manning, performing solo for Canadian indie label Nevado Records. She has a minimalist strumming style to say the least, with an absolutely beautiful, haunting voice. In a way, she struck me as a bit of a female Thom Yorke, except without any trace of pretension. There was an especially cute moment where she covered ‘Tom’s Diner’ by Suzanne Vega; she forgot some of the lyrics, but made up for it quite entertainingly by having us jump to the universally familiar “Do do do do do do do do.”

    Moon King – Horseshoe Tavern –  9:00 p.m.

    moonking horseshoe Festival Review: CoS at North by Northeast 2011

    Moving over to Horseshoe Tavern, an eccentrically interesting trio calling themselves Moon King got the M for Montreal showcase underway, filling in at the last minute for Dance Laury Dance. It was apparently their first-ever gig, and they sure tried to grab people’s attention between periods of the Stanley Cup final with their absolutely booming dance-punkish drum machine and short, punchy material. “All our songs are like a minute and a half long,” stated lead singer Daniel Woodhead. When he wasn’t trading acoustic guitar riffs with his female counterpart, he was sitting cross-legged on the tiled floor in front of his band, or inviting those watching onto the stage like he was Noah and was saving them with his makeshift Arc. Like I was saying, interesting…

    O Voids – Horseshoe Tavern –  10:00 p.m.

    ovoids horseshoe Festival Review: CoS at North by Northeast 2011

    With Dance Laury Dance AWOL, O Voids became the first Montreal band to hit the stage. I’d describe their sound as droning post-punk that sounded more like it was coming from the gritty streets of New York City than from Montreal. Fans of Interpol would no doubt like them, but the hockey fans in attendance at the Horseshoe were more concerned about the Boston Bruins beating Vancouver for their first championship since 1972. Definitely more bodies along the lengthy bar area at the front of the club with their eyes glued to the TV than in back listening to O Voids, unfortunately.

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    Parlovr – Horseshoe Tavern – 12:00 a.m.

    parlovr horseshoe4 Festival Review: CoS at North by Northeast 2011

    Parlovr may very well be the musical equivalent of the fries/gravy/cheese curds delicacy known in Montreal as poutine. No, it’s not the healthiest meal, but at its best, poutine is hot, sloppy, gooey, and so damn good, a real food indulgence. Parlovr, on the other hand, are three guys full of ‘joie de vivre’ who you want to treat yourself to again and again and again. They made everyone feel good, even those who wished they were rioting out in Vancouver, setting cars on fire. The suddenly jam-packed crowd were whipped into a dance frenzy by drummer Jeremy MacCuish, lead guitarist Louis Jackson, and keyboardist Alex Cooper, who sported a ratty old Quebec Nordiques t-shirt to mark the occasion.

    A quick hockey rivalry lesson for you: Montreal Canadiens fans aren’t very fond of the Boston Bruins, but before they moved to Colorado in 1995 and became the Avalanche, there was one team Habs boosters loathed more than anyone else, and those were Les Nordiques! So it’s probably safe to say Parlovr were pulling for Vancouver to win…

    We Are Wolves – Horseshoe Tavern –  1:00 a.m.

    wearewolves horseshoe3 Festival Review: CoS at North by Northeast 2011

    The last time I saw We Are Wolves, at Montreal’s Osheaga Festival, they came out wearing these gothic-looking, cape-like apparatuses. There were no gimmicks needed this time as they closed out the first night of music at NXNE – Not like the teeming crowd at the “’Shoe” cared anyway. They flocked to the front for the incredibly heavy, bass-driven industrial sound that characterized their entire headlining set. Wolfpack leader Alexander Ortiz reminds me of a chiselled Gene Simmons wielding his oversized bass guitar, elongated tongue wagging as he howls songs like ‘La Nature’ from their French titled debut, Non-Stop je te plie en deux (“I’ll fold in two”). Oh, and did I mention their drummer stands the whole time – Very cool! Forget Edward or Jacob, everyone left Horseshoe Tavern as Team We Are Wolves members!

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