by Elena Gritzan
The third night of NXNE was full of another set of great bands, and a good measure of spontaneity as well (the headline will make sense by the end, I promise). My night began at the Silver Dollar to see Montreal’s Goose Hut. The three-piece band (two percussionists and a guitarist, with all three of them providing both vocal harmonies and synchronized gang-vocal style choruses) was an uplifting and incredibly catchy surprise. With a great deal of energy, they danced around their instruments to their saccharine synthesizer melodies.
This was a warm-up for Hooded Fang, a band that has been high on my radar since the release of Album. Their NXNE set drew heavily on their second, more garage-tinged Tosta Mista, and they were certainly able to translate the jangly guitar lines and fun wordless vocalizations to the happily bouncing crowd.
A perfect summer night’s walk down to Queen and Bathurst later, and I was at Czehoski, first to see Montreal songstress Akua. The venue was a new experience for me: more small arty restaurant than concert venue, there was not much space for standing between all of the tables. So instead, people gathered and sat at the foot of the stage to take in Akua’s enigmatic performance. She samples her own voice to create loops and layers of sound with her three-piece band, before singing hauntingly and fully over top. She announced that the release of their first single occurred earlier in the day.
The stroke of midnight brought with it a set from Toronto’s Most People. I have been very vocal in my support of this band, and I’ll say it as many times as I need to: their live show is something that you absolutely have to experience. Even though this was my third time seeing them perform, a lot of the original feeling of discovery, elation and wonder from the first time is still there. Despite a couple of logistical problems (the venue declaring itself at capacity despite the amount of space left in the room, and an unexpected drum collapse), Most People created magic in the small, hot room. Doubled percussion, playful guitar/bass interplay and summery harmonies add up to create an extremely fresh sound. A number of people scrambled to pick up a copy of their free pre-release as soon as the set was over (if you missed out, get it on their bandcamp page).
My final stop was Sneaky Dee’s to catch a bit of the Daps records showcase. Playing in the 1 am time slot was Beta Frontiers, who stands on stage in solidarity and manipulates sounds and songs, at one point remixing Phedre’s “Aphrodite” (a band that had played an apparently great set in the time slot just before).
And then this happened:
On the corner of College and Bathurst, you could find Tupper Ware Remix Party, a group of self-proclaimed beings from the future, equipped with zany costumes consisting of bright-coloured body suits, orange crayon-like hats and lion masks. Musically, they are a scifi groove band, and while they definitely could have benefitted from a better sound system, clearly technical music quality is not the aim of TWRP. It is a strange experience to have a man with a keytar run up to you, shake your hand and give you a glow stick before running back to proclaim things like “Behold! The laser horse!” and launching back into the music.
They created a small crowd of laughing, smiling people (and some very confused and/or scared looks from random passer-bys). All around me I could hear proclamations that this was the best part of the day. I took it as a reminder that the main point of this festival, and really of music in general, is really just to have some fun.