Sunday, June 21, 2015

Nick Waterhouse rules Friday at NXNE

San Marina

My Friday's North by Northeast activities got off to a somewhat slow start at the Horseshoe Tavern at 8 p.m. with young quartet San Marina, which played with slow-fast and quiet-loud dynamics but wasn't a particularly dynamic act to watch.

Orange O'Clock
I got my first glimpse of temporary venue NXNE Hub next to see young Sherbrooke, Que. pop trio Orange O'Clock, which recently won out over a few thousand other acts to capture the CBC Searchlight talent contest title. The sound was a bit more slick than I would have liked, but this is a keyboard and guitar-driven group of talented musicians with a singer who has a voice a bit reminiscent of David Bowie that seems to have a good shot at achieving commercial success.

The Sour Notes
Austin, Texas quintet The Sour Notes were staying at my friend Michael's place during the fest and his recommendation led me to the Bovine Sex Club at 10 p.m. There was a heavy '60s psychedelic rock element going on and at times it was a bit spacey for me, but the shorter songs definitely hit the spot.

Shark Week
I stayed around for Washington, D.C. quartet Shark Week, whose drummer had a broken arm but kept the beat surprisingly well to drive the group's indie, garage, surf and psych material. I was optimistic going in, but my expectations were exceeded.

Nick Waterhouse
Nick Waterhouse provided my favourite set of NXNE at midnight at the Horseshoe, where I'd seen him with a larger band blow me away about 15 months earlier. This performance drew Toronto mayor John Tory, who watched from the club's office. Saxophone added a lot to the singer/guitarist's vintage rock and soul sounds. There was lots of energy, the sound was great and Waterhouse is an amiable frontman who has his niche nailed.

Tijuana Panthers
I'd seen Tijuana Panthers in Austin, Texas during the South by Southwest Music Festival a few years ago, but the band seemed more confident this time and delivered a much better show of stoner surf that had elements of retro indie rock, power pop and punk, and occasionally left me hearing elements of The Gun Club and Joy Division.

American Wrestlers
American Wrestlers closed things off at the Shoe at 2:15 a.m. and, while I ended up paying more attention to conversations with friends than what was happening on stage, I liked the melodic indie rock that I heard from the quartet.

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