NXNE prelude at the Horseshoe Tavern

Reform Party (picture from Facebook)

by Michael Thomas

Though it wasn’t an official NXNE show (the music portion of the festival begins today), the lineup at the Horseshoe Tavern was very much like one; bands from all across Canada (even one from the UK!) and completely varying in genre.

I know I’ve probably said this multiple times before, but the Horseshoe Tavern, especially on a Tuesday night, when there’s no cover, is a fantastic place to discover new bands. It’s the venue I’ve been to the most time for shows, and that’s no accident.

First up for the night was Nick Everett & Eveybody. I don’t think it’s too soon to say that his star is rising. Laura absolutely loved his EP with Poplar Pines, and she also picked his show as a must-see for NXNE, and he’s been getting positive press elsewhere as well. Stylistically, he reminded me a lot of Chad VanGaalen, perhaps with a little bit of Sufjan Stevens. My friend described him as “Patrick Watson, if he were being chased and forced to play rock music.”

His songs tended to shift weight almost spontaneously. Some would start and remain tender, but others might start with Everett and his band violently playing their instruments before slowing down again. Everett was quite amusing to hear talk on stage. He was very self-effacing and shy-sounding, but whether that was nerves or just his regular presence I’m not sure.

Following him was Orasan, a band from the UK (I believe they said London, England, but I might have been wrong). This three-piece made a lot of noise, and their music tended to be anthemic pop-rock, with grand lyrics and catchy guitar chords. They definitely got a few fans to come up a little closer to watch them early on in their set.

After Orasan was Reform Party, from Saskatoon. I still don’t know if I’m completely over the loss of Volcanoless in Canada, but Reform Party are starting to fill that void for me. The band has some similarities to Rage Against the Machine, and the band this time seemed to have a laptop filling in for a drummer.

It’s a shame there weren’t more people at the Shoe, because with a bigger crowd there probably would have been a lot more energy. That being said, the three band members had enough energy to fill the room. Guitarist Levi Soulodre seemed to be constantly strumming his guitar at the speed of light and it was pretty fun to watch.

Toronto trio Triple Gangers took the stage next. Small confession: I’ve listened to their EP 3XG probably more than I’ve listened to most other recordings, it’s that addictive. So to finally see them live was great. The setup was much simpler than I imagined: just a keyboard and three singers.

The set was one that got people up front, dancing and smiling along with the rest of the band. The vocal harmonies, as I imagined they would be, were spectacular, and the songs they played that weren’t EP songs (ie pretty much the whole set) were just as whimsical. In the second song in particular, the two female singers put their microphones on their stands and did a synchronized dance number, something I definitely wasn’t expecting but was delighted by.

I didn’t end up staying for the last band, but I did get quite a show from the four previous. I urge you all to check out the Horseshoe’s listings; you never know who you’ll find playing there.

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