by Elena Gritzan
Venue-hopping at NXNE is always a bit of a gamble and a huge part of the fun. Will the streetcar come in time? What neighbourhoods can I explore as I run from show to show? I love to walk down to venues, and on Friday I got a little bit sidetracked on the way down to my first show. I meant to catch Psyche Tongues at the Blk Box Theatre, but I met a friendly cat on Ossington on the way down. Hanging out and petting him was non-negotiable. We’re now good friends:
I did make it down to see Weaves, a new project fronted by Jasmyn Burke. Anyone who has seen her play with Rattail could guess that her incredible stage presence translates to her new project as well. She moved around the stage, spending just as much time sitting on the edge or lying on her back as she did swaying to the thick layers of sound from her three-member band. People moved jerkily to delightfully sludgy single “Hulahoop”, and the set culminated in the guitarist playing his instrument with his tongue.
Fortuitous streetcar timing allowed me to arrive at the Comfort Zone just as Pick a Piper were setting up on stage. I really enjoyed their debut album, but it turns out that their live show (including a trombone!) is even better. The best thing about the album is the multiple layers of texture, and it was great to see that translated live with such energy. They played around with the arrangements of the songs a bit; “Cinders and Dust” included an extended percussive bridge with three out of four members hitting drums.
The venue was a lot sparser than the previous night’s Braids show (it was interesting to hear Raphaelle Standell-Preston’s voice sampled during “Once Were Leaves” in the same space she had played 24 hours prior); I feel like Pick a Piper were a major hidden gem of the festival. It might have been my favourite thing that I’ve seen so far.
There was a brief encounter of the Tupperware Remix Party kind on the way down to the Garrison: the fun-loving band from the future were winning hearts and creating smiles on the corner of College and Bathurst.
The 2am “secret guest” at the Garrison turned out to be Toronto’s own Diana. Even though their album release is forthcoming, they have managed to build up a fair degree of hype and respect in the city through a pair of songs and a string of live dates, including opening for Tegan and Sara. It was a calm send-off into the night, especially seeing as they ended with “New House”, introducing it as being for “people with too many feelings.” Their hazy pop translated well to the stage, inciting a fair degree of sway-dancing. We’ll be able to say we knew them when.
And, I met another cat on the way home. They’re drawn to me or something.