Friday, June 2nd, 2006
Everyone Says It's On
…So starting next Wednesday, NxNE officially descends upon the city and we will be inundated with bands from (mostly) near but some from very far all hoping to… well, to be honest, I’m not sure what they’re hoping for. To become beloved by Canadians, I guess.
Though we’ve got the acronym and the stylish lower-case “x”, this ain’t SxSW – not by a long shot. Locals don’t even refer to it as “North by” (actually what many locals call it is far less flattering, but that’s another topic). But as easy as it is to be cynical about NxNE, the fact is is that there really is a fair bit of excitement amongst a lot of people for the fest. Seeing people club-hopping, lining up for shows or otherwise just taking it all in is really quite heartening. Of course, those warm fuzzies are offset by bands travelling halfway around the world to play to an empty delicatessan with a 2×4-on-cinder-blocks stage, but that’s rock’n’roll for ya.
One act that’s coming to town from afar and is somewhat surprisngly generating approximately zero hype is Jason Falkner. Something of a pop legend in certain circles, Falkner cut his teeth with such acts as The Three O’Clock, Jellyfish and The Grays (with uber-producer Jon Brion) before striking out on his own. He’s since achieved no small amount of success as a solo artist and producer (Brendan Benson, Magnet) as well as a sideman to the stars (Beck, Air). Falkner’s thing is pure, classic ultra-melodic West Coast pop and while his records tend to be densely produced, he’s up here all by his lonesome for the 9PM slot at the NOW showcase at the Reverb. If you’re curious, go early – there’s some more heavily-hyped acts later on the bill and the club is almost certain to be full.
Check some of his stuff out at MySpace or thanks to his SxSW 2005 profile.
Since I’ll be making some effort to at least half-assedly cover NxNE this year, I’ve done a little digging through the lineups looking for possible shows to hit and I figured I’d share my findings with y’all. Some of these are artists I’ve seen or heard before, others are sort of random picks from the NxNE sched based on some MySpace clips or whatever. Sorry I didn’t have the energy to write more than a short descriptive blurb for each of them but if you have the time, I encourage you to at least click through to their MySpace and sample stream a song. That’s pretty much what I did… for almost every performer… Note to bands who submitted too-clever, non-descriptive one-paragraph bios? You’re helping no one, especially not yourselves. NOW has assembled an guide to the fest (which they also sponsor) but considering they make their recommendations based on groups of similarly-themed band names, take em with some salt.
Thursday, June 8
Nathan Asher & The Infantry (Raleigh, NC) @ Healey’s, 9PM (MySpace) – Tense, verbose indie.
MP3: Nathan Asher & The Infantry – “Turn Up The Faders”
As The Poets Affirm (Ottawa, ON) @ The Savannah, 9PM (MySpace) – Instrumental post-rockingness.
MP3: As The Poets Affirm – “A Lie Told Before Breakfast”
The Besnard Lakes (Montreal, PQ) @ The Silver Dollar, 11PM (MySpace) – Spacey and kinda creepy.
MP3: The Besnard Lakes – “You’ve Got To Want To Be A Star”
Also note there’s a series of “bonus” shows featuring bigger local and out-of-town names that are mostly ticket-only, but will admit a limited number of NxNE wristbands and badges. These shows are Be Your Own Pet at the Mod Club on June 7 (75 wristbands), the June 10 Hawksley Workman show at Massey Hall (60 wristbands) and Amy Millan show at the Mod Club (50 wristbands) and on Sunday June 11, Tilly & The Wall at the Mod Club (75 wristbands) and Pink Mountaintops at the Horseshoe (75 wristbands). Also note that the Television show at the Phoenix June 9 is also very limited wristband/badge, so if you’re dead set on going (as I am) get a ticket (as I have).
There’s also some good non- (or anti-) NxNE shows going on next weekend, mainly at Sneaky Dee’s. On June 8 catch Great Lake Swimmers, Mean Red Spiders and friends while on June 9, the venue hosts The Diableros and The Paper Cranes, amongst others. Your silly wristband is no good here.
And another “looks like it should be a NxNE show but isn’t”, courtesy of Paper Bag Records – controller.controller, Magneta Lane, Uncut, Cities In Dust and Tokyo Police Club will play two shows at the Mod Club on the 9th – one an all-ages matinee and one a licensed evening show, each $15. Hey, that’s a Friday. What are the kids doing at a rock show on a school day?
Finally, Zoilus talks about the just-announced Polaris Music Prize, which is intended to be a Mercury Prize for Canadian artists. One $20,000 prize for “Best Canadian Album”. Like Carl, I’m honoured to have been asked to be on the jury for selecting the winner, so all you prospective nominees? Start sending the bribes now. I like how the name of the prize is quintessentially Canadian – reflecting our national inability to not remind others (or ourselves) that we are, indeed, in the north. And cold. And snowy. It’s quaint, isn’t it? Anyways, expect to hear more about this over the next week. Update: JAM! has more info on the Polaris prize.
And that’s it for today. Gawd.
np – The Flaming Lips / At War With The Mystics