Canada calling...

Ah! Here we are again! I love festivals!

It's like a buffet of music. Normally, you would go see a show and have the meal predetermined. But with festivals it's like a build-your-own-pasta type of deal, or an all you can eat dinner buffet. So many bands to choose from, so many places to be at once, it's extremely overwhelming! I'm going to keep you all updated on my adventures this weekend in Toronto. We'll see how I make it through!

Of course I made myself a schedule to follow and printed it out before hand - but of course I totally disregarded it for most of the evening. I picked up my pass after work. It was a nice but windy kind of day, which was a great relief as the last few days in Toronto have been viscously hot. I finally got my air conditioning fixed, so I can sleep at night now! Yay!

My first stop was a nice venue I really like called The Boat. It's located in Kensington Market. The Unsparing Sea had an early set that I'm happy that we caught because there was hardly anyone there. But I was also happy to catch their set because they put on a good show. It was their first time in Toronto so I'd never seen them before or even listening to their recordings to be honest! They came all the way down here from Cleveland, Ohio to play for about 16 people… which is a sad reality of being a touring band. But they held nothing back. Out of the 16 people I'd guess that about 8 of them were press. They played the room dense orchestral soundscapes that almost made me hold my breath a few times. Their songs built up but never really went crazy. The songs were serious and moody. Their live set was filled with tons of great ideas!

She then got up at one point to tap dance along to the drum beat. But that was short lived, and before anyone could really get into the tap - dancing she jumped back onto the stage to play - yes- a saw. Another member of the band played trumpet and occasionally turned to his side to drum on a stop sign that had necklaces hanging on it. That was really neat. But above I said "ideas" because their set really just became a barrage of cool ideas. It seems that they almost write songs around these neat ideas; as the songs themselves actually weren't that good. They weren't memorable at all, and they barely lifted my out of my skin. I think lots of people that see this band may get confused. Just because they are crafty doesn't mean they are a great band. But they weren't at all bad. They have huge potential, and if they can spend more time writing and working out songs Sigur Ros fans will have a new fixation. I have to give props to the vocalist who although maybe needed some tips on how to stage banter (he said "we're the Unsparing Sea from Cleveland" probably 5 times), had some really interesting lyric lines like "I'm someone else, somewhere else." Which got me thinking - I could be anybody. I could be a busy writer on my way to my next NXNE stop of the night…

Which is to one of my favourite places to eat ever… Sneaky Dees! The Mexican restaurant has become something of a cultural center point in Toronto. It's open until 4am, serves the meanest and most delicious mountain of nachos you'll ever see, has cheap beer, and a good-sized stage on the second floor. Before eating we ventured upstairs where the Myspace NXNE Showcase was underway. On stage was the extremely well-sung Andre Charles Theriault. Now, don't mind the three names this young acoustic scientist has a way with words. His songs are simple ballads but where he provokes the most emotion is in his dark lyrical imagery. Lines like "when you think that you're alone that's when you feel it in your bones" and "let's recycle the night… let's move into the sky" can only give you an idea of the great poet Theriault is. In the same vein as The Microphones and Daniel Johnston, Theriault has an awkward presence that leads one to believe he has ideas moving around his head that are bigger than all of us. He played a cover of a Dead Boys song, which was possibly the saddest song I've heard. It's too bad the people at the back of the venue didn't shut up, because for everyone else paying attention the cover was nothing short of beautiful.

Part Two of our report from NXNE can be found here!

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