The thing about Toronto is it kicks my ass, it's hot and everything is far and I forget to drink water and my face breaks out from the smog and I sneeze a lot. So I had no energy left for blogging. Also I only went to three shows, one of which was my own, so I have little to report. But:
Even if Dance Movie hadn't gotten into the festival I would've gone anyway because I cannot convince any local promoters to bring in Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando, who have been on a ’90s resurrection tour since last year. After some shoeless looping folk I'd rather forget, the excellent Washington (see timely Carter Flinn review below)—oh, those piano girls!—and an old punk, it was time for plaid and sadness. I was hanging in a booth with SCF and my bandmate Rebecca, and before the show we were discussing the time Juliana played a homeless angel on My So-Called Life, which became the running joke of NXNE for us. IE "This one goes out to the Homeless Angel!" We also discussed how Juliana was always in love with Evan; I thought "he never gave it up" but Rebecca thought he did in the Lemonheads days. At one point she was singing and he was gazing at her and Rebecca leaned over and said "Look, he loves her!"
The set leaned heavily on Dando material, including "All My Life"—"your songs are better," she said—and the crowd went nuts for "Bit Part" from the Lemonheads' seminal It's a Shame About Ray (on which she played bass). Juliana didn't do "My Sister" or "Everybody Loves Me But You" but she did do one of her saddest songs ever, "You Choose Drugs" from Beautiful Creature. It is really bizarre to have a roomful of people chant "I say it's me or drugs, you choose drugs." The most astounding part for me, speaking of drugs, is how beautiful they both still look at 40, after years of hardness, and how amazingly clear and strong their voices were. Also Juliana is a bomb-ass guitarist. I LOVE THE 90S!
On Friday I went to some panels—one about music supervision (informative, fun; music supervision is my dream job) and another about storytelling in multimedia platforms (dude writers wanking, boring). In between I ate fruit leather and mint chocolate. To close out the day SCF and I saw child prodigy Adora Svitak who is 13, a kajillionaire and has been interviewed by Diane Sawyer. She made me feel unaccomplished and bitter, but she did coin a cool term: "vinatge habits," ie listening to LPs or watching Benny Hill.
Then we ate at The Grilled Cheese, and I lost my festival pass and my phone stopped working at the same time, which meant half an hour on a Spadina payphone which was as awesome as you can imagine, especially when I was on hold, seconds away from getting it sorted, and the payphone yelled "INSERT 25 CENTS FOR 15 MORE MINUTES!" Eventually I staggered into a bunch of Haligonians trying to keep cool at a packed Lee's Palace for Dum Dum Girls, the best of this west coast girl revival group by a California mile. Because this is a festival there's no time for dignity or mystique so they had to set up their own gear in their short skirts, and I thought the bassist was Jenny Lewis and nearly shat but she wasn't. Then they tore through their first record and a couple off the sophomore (due in September) in a half an hour flat, with no banter to speak of. Lead singer Dee Dee is awesome though, and they sounded great.
Then I went home.
Saturday morning I tried to get into this Stars/Chad VanGaalen free thinger that involved smartphones and QR codes and secret password bullshit (I have a Samsung that does nothing except stop working when I am away from home). I found the venue but it was crazy hot and instead I had brunch with Stephanie and some Hali friends who happened to be in town.
Then it was our show in a venue that seemed designed by Stephen King on a drug bender in the 80s, The Velvet Underground. About 20 people from Halifax showed up which was fine by me and we had a great set. I watched Glory Glory and Jon McKiel and then said "fuck it all" and went to the TIFF Lightbox to see Dazed and Confused.
On Sunday I went to the movies again, followed by an acoustic SISTER show in a park and the very awful MMVA telecast.
Thanks for the blisters and the good times, T-dot.