Friday, June 21, 2013

Teen Violence and Beach Day end my NXNE on a high

Teen Violence
The North by Northeast Music Festival returned again last week, which meant a lot of running around Toronto trying to catch as many bands as possible.

Here's what I caught on night four:

After taking a break for a few hours after the afternoon's "Bruise Cruise," I hit the clubs again with a 9 p.m. start at The Painted Lady with a young Kitchener, Ont. quartet called Teen Violence. Hearing one song on the NXNE website was my only familiarity with the group to this point, but after its set I can unequivocally say that it was my best discovery of largely unknown talent at the festival.

Teen Violence displayed a vintage '60s Mod-Britpop sound for most of its set, and midway through it played a song it said was inspired by The Everly Brothers. Not only were they talented, they were troopers, as the drummer played with a broken right foot. If you like short, sharp songs with a frequently forceful jangle, give a listen to Teen Violence. It definitely won't hurt.

The Dildoniks

Beach Day
A relatively new bar called May was just east on Dundas Street West, and I soon found out it had Kensington Watermelon Wheat on tap in addition to hosting The Dildoniks. There was nothing wrong with either the beer or the band, but both left me less fulfilled than I had hoped they would. The Toronto trio started with an instrumental that that would have done Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet proud, and I preferred the other surf-based instrumentals the group played over its songs with lyrics. They had more reverb and seemed to be performed with more energy, and the singer's voice and words were nothing special anyway.

French Girls
There were two bands I was really hoping to see during NXNE since I missed both of them at the South by Southwest Music Festival in March. And wouldn't you know it, they were both playing tonight at 11 p.m.: Shannon and The Clams at Silver Dollar Room and Beach Day at Handlebar. I figured the Silver Dollar might be more crowded, it was farther away, and I'd never been to Handlebar before, so the Kensington Market venue won the competition. And as a bonus, it had Kensington Fish Eye, a decently hopped pale ale that I'd never tried before.

The Hollywood, Fla. trio fronted by sexy singer/guitarist Kimmy Drake, played '60s girl group pop with a garage rock edge that's totally infectious. They write songs about love, shoes, having fun and, on the lead single named after the group, spending a day on the beach. The group's Trip Trap Attack debut album was just released and, if it provides just half of the good vibes that the live show does, it will be an entertaining listen.

I moved south to Queen Street and Hideout for French Girls, a San Francisco quintet making its first Canadian appearance that's located at the point where garage and alternative rock intersect. The music got people dancing and clapping along and, while it had all the elements I usually love, I only ended up being merely satisfied by the revival rock.

I planned to see The Blank Tapes at The Cameron House, but there was a long lineup and I was told I'd have to wait to get in, so I moved a bit west to the Horseshoe Tavern, where I thought there would be an even longer lineup to see Fucked Up. I was somewhat surprised that I was able to walk right in, but the club was packed once the band reached the stage.

Fucked Up

Lead singer Damian Abraham said it was his dream come true to play the Shoe again since his conceptual hardcore punk act's success has moved it on to much larger venues. Not surprisingly, his shirt came off during the first song. The moshing, stage-diving and crowd-surfing that ensued throughout the set came as no shock either, and Abraham high-fived most fans who made it up beside him.

I'm a bigger fan of the singer as a person than I am of Fucked Up and its music, but "The Other Shoe" was a clear musical highlight and watching Abraham carry fans on his shoulders and stage-diving while singing showed his dynamism as a frontman that he's been able to translate into other opportunities beyond the band.

Soupcans was on my list to see at 2 a.m. and, while I didn't have to leave the Horseshoe to see it, I became too engaged in talking with friends at the bar to pay any attention to what was happening on stage. When 3 a.m. rolled around, I figured it was a good time to start the walk home and end my NXNE for another year.


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