NXNE Day 3: The Anti-NXNE Day

In which our hero leaves the festival to watch football and bands with beards

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So yesterday kind of became the anti-NXNE day (sorry, festival organizers). First off, England was facing Sweden, so there was no way I was going to miss that.

So after about four hours of watching the game at The Duke of York and eating a pretty hefty meal of bangers and mash (England!!!) I headed down to The Burroughes building at Queen and Bathurst to watch the Skate 4 Cancer benefit show.

S4C’s concert wasn’t technically part of NXNE, but it was certainly during the same week, so that has to count for something, right? Also, I liked the lineup more than most of the concerts going on at the surrounding venues, with acts Dusted, Great Bloomers and The Wooden Sky fitting the bill.

It was also a pretty unusual venue to see a concert in. From what I can understand, The Burroughes Building was an old furniture warehouse way back in the day, but since then all seven of it’s floors have been converted into loft style workspaces, with the top floor being used primarily for galas and receptions. The building also has a rooftop patio and dance floor, which was worth the price of admission alone to see the Toronto skyline that high up at night.

I was a little skeptical of how the concert would turn out at first. I think S4C is a great cause and I hope if you’re reading this you’ll click on the link posted above and give them a look, but something about the event screamed a little bit too much Toronto hipster for me, being that the bar was purely Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I had never had PBR before that night, but I had always heard two things about it. 1: People who drink it are trying to seem cool. 2: If someone likes the taste they are a lying, because it tastes like a Budweiser took a piss in your mouth after eating asparagus for dinner. I now understand that both of these statements are true. I’m hungover and I only had four drinks over a five hour period. Damn you, PBR!

So early on after the doors opened Dusted took the stage (which was actually just the front of the loft tapered off with electrical wiring). I had never heard of Dusted before this week, but they had been getting a lot of buzz at NXNE and had been hitting multiple venues during the festival. They were a pretty cool band. I think the crowd could have been a bit more responsive, but as a guitar and drums duo they were super fun to watch. The drummer in particular was interesting because he played multiple synthesizers while wailing on the drums, which is obviously a pretty dexterous endeavor. Near the end of the set I realized the guitarist was in Holy Fuck, but at this point I’m too tired to continue researching if I am correct in that assumption.

Great Bloomers hit the stage ten minutes after that to play one of the best and biggest shows I’ve ever seen them perform.

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I’ve caught them in Halifax over the years and if you saw them open for The Hold Steady two years ago, this show was quite a bit bigger and rowdier. This band seems to be a magnet for extremely drunk girls dancing uncontrollably at the front of the stage and this night was no exception. The band played a mix of songs off their new album (which I think frontman Lowell Sostomi said will be wrapped up next week and should be coming out soon) and a surprisingly good amount of old ones. The old ones in particular sounded amazing and had a lot more depth live than their original recordings.

After a short break The Wooden Sky came on to a crowd that had thinned out a bit over the evening as people broke off to see more NXNE shows. The band sounded great as usual, but something about the loft space weirdly didn’t do the band’s sonic palette justice with a bit of the more atmospheric numbers being muddled out over the crowd. They did a trio of pretty tight covers at the end of the show with Nirvana’s “All Apologies” and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Last Dance with Mary Jane” and “American Girl”. It was a pretty great performance and I hope next time they swing through Halifax they get posted at St. Matthews because they would kill that place.

I was then offered a ticket to see Radiohead, so I decided to head home and get some rest to prepare for the 36,000-person crowd at Downsview Park on Saturday.

And with that, goodbye NXNE! I wish I could see more of you, but duty calls!

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