The Howling Review: NXNE, 2011

June 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

I’ve never been a tourist.

In every sense of that word, I’ve rarely put my experiences on autopilot. I’m a get down, get my hands dirty kinda gal. Instead of being that voyeur who ‘likes to watch’, I decided instead to react. Attempting to follow in the steps of my current muse & teacher, Linda McCartney, I set out to get oh-so-close to the cities sights and sounds . Last weekend, Toronto celebrated NXNE; a festival where 650 bands play all over the city. Other than the deerhoof show at the Phoenix, I had no intention of attending any gigs that I couldn’t buy a ticket to. I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but the festival has gotten, well, a little too exclusive for my liking. Many of the shows weren’t selling tickets, meaning you had to purchase a wristband which doesn’t guarantee entrance. The only way to by-pass the line is to have a priority pass, securing one either by purchasing it or being a  member of the media.  I don’t know about you, Happy Howlers, but I was not willing to drop $250 to be so privileged. Instead, I grumbled and bitched about the whole farce, and decided to go the beach instead. Until, something miraculous happened…I can’t say who or why, but the night of the deerhoof show, I was given one of these coveted passes – no strings attached, no questions asked. Suddenly, everything changed. I was given the key to the candy store…

June 17th, 2011 -Friday 

I rode on my trusty Raleigh, 5D strapped to me, ready for action! I hit up Lee’s Palace, missing the Dum Dum Girls and the Dirty Beaches (total f**cking bummer, but c’est la vie!) I caught The Cults. Great show, great pix. Making our way out of the venue like herded cattle, my friend and partner in crime for the night, Jax, discussed where we should go next. This is the cool thing about NXNE, there are nerds everywhere with their twittering fingers on the pulse of the festival. Always ready to share (God Bless Them!) this particular fellow informed us that deerhoof, yes my beloved deerhoof, was the special guest at the Horseshoe. Knowing I would be only a few feet from Satomi and gang, Jax and I booked it! As he so eloquently put it, this band was his “White Whale” and I was gonna shoot it (with my camera, guys!). When we got there, this incredible duo, the Pack A.D. was tearing the roof of the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern. One chick on drums, the other possessed with the soul of Johnny B. Goode were totally unstoppable! I was able only to get a few shots of the singer/guitarist because they had that place jumping. When it was time for deerhoof, I managed to secure a great spot and go in for the kill. Seeing them again, so close, was like nothing else. They were totally on their A-Game as they were the night before. But in the smaller venue, they allowed themselves to get kooky and playful. Check out Satomi in her black & white striped caftan.

June 18th, 2011 – Saturday 

After spending a well deserved afternoon soaking up the sun on Hanlan’s point, I was eager to get out and get snapping. By another amazing fluke of fate, my boyfriend was able to score a pass and off we went! On the West Queen West strip, we were spitting distance from Wrongbar where Diamond Rings had already started his set. Eager to see if he could live up to his hype, we squeezed up front. Clad in white denim, this one-man-band wonder was kickin’it. From keys to wailing on his axe, DR was all smiles and raw power. I couldn’t help but notice what elfish features he had – a total stunner, he anointed his lovely blue eyes in kabuki red and a baseball cap to match. I’m a sucker for heavy colour blocking and performers who clearly love what they do. Eat your heart out, Boy George…

Having to rely on the terrible TTC for transport, we sadly missed the special guest at Elmo by mere minutes. Too bad, so sad! But we knew that another special guest was playing at one of my fav venues – the Bovine Sex Club. Cutting our loses, power walking and giggling like idiots, the Chad and I  managed to get there for the last 20 minutes of Ty Segall’s set. As soon as I walked through the door, I was transfixed on the drummer. Emily Rose Epstein was killing that kit. Ty’s music is fast & loud with a psychadelic flare – she has no choice to be the metronome. Slight with dark hair, she had gattling gun percision. Don’t be shocked at the amount of pix I took of her; quite frankly, I was mesmerized. My siblings would play his tunes for me and as a lover of garage sounds, I was hooked. But I never would have guessed that I would get so close. Boy, were the kiddies jealous. Amazed that I got any worthy shots due to the narrowness of the venue & super enthusiastic crowd, I was pleased. Having bolted for Sneaky’s and catching the tail end of Invasions, the last act of the night, Chad stuck around to talk to them while I photographed them wrapping up. I was gonna post those pix, but I kinda feel like a sneaky creep. Which actually fits the vibe perfectly of this beloved College and Bathurst resto-come-dancehall.

By this point its 3AM-ish and everyone wants to go drinking at the Crawford. I walk through Little Italy, its main artery shut down for the weekend’s Taste Of food fest and meat market. There are no cars, but so many people still awake, still wanting more. I just want a veggie dog. Bailing on the good times, I wander on home, exhausted but excited, thrilled and tired. I done good, I done real good…

Check out the pix, or my flickr site for more. Happy Howling, pretty babies! xo

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