Review: Thursday Night at NXNE

My NXNE started with Sylvan Esso at The Drake. The duo had a tonne of energy and the crowd followed their lead. I found their sound to be similar to that of The Dirty Projectors but also, well, everyone. Amelia Meath bellows and dances the vogue-robot while Nick Sanborn rocks out on his synth. “HSKT (Head Shoulders Knees and Toes)” was a particular hit with the crowd, it turned the place into ‘da club’ ever-so-briefly. They were good, but their style is ubiquitous. There is no shortage of acts serving up exactly that flavour of electronica. Onto the next!

Next on my list was Lux Deluxe. I caught their first set of the festival at Rancho Relaxo. Their music is a bit cheesy, but it’s self-aware cheese, which makes it all work. The fresh-faced fivesome were clad in Hawaiian prints, military jackets and indoor-sunglasses and their music lives up to the gusto of their outfits. Ultimate front-man Ned King had me grooving along with him to “So Far Away (Ba Ba Da Ba Da Ba). Their brand of indie rock is current and radio-friendly; keep an eye (or an ear) on these guys!

After a few hours of light indie music, I was in the mood for something a little heavier. I changed my trajectory and headed to Lee’s Palace to catch Shannon and the Clams. Unfortunately, I missed The Pizza Underground, but I hear some hooligan ran back stage and screamed “KEVIN” at McCauley Caulkin. Good for that guy. Shannon and her clams were awesome! Their sound was incredibly full for a three-piece, so much that, at times, I found it difficult to match the visual with what I was hearing. Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard’s voices play off each other so closely and all three play their instruments so well and intricately that it’s not always clear who is doing what. Garage rock goes retro with their surf-style guitar and catchy melodies. I think I even saw Blanchard doing the mashed potato! Glittery faces, vintage dance moves and seriously killer music – I was more than satisfied.

I thought about heading back out for round four since the live music possibilities were practically endless. I opted for home, figuring it was probably impossible to top that.

Hilary Johnston
Hilary Johnston is a writer, event manager and musician from Toronto.
Hilary Johnston