Thursday, June 17, 2010

NXNE - Wednesday, June 16

Ah, that new festival smell. As downtown Toronto alternated baking and soaking in the fickle June weather, NXNE got underway with not a little aplomb. After a fun afternoon hanging out at the NXNE headquarters at the fancy Hyatt, where more than scruffy drunk rocker seemed out of place, to the dismay of the hotel's regular patrons, the first festival chords were struck.

Without a doubt, the main draw for the evening was Eagles of Death Metal at the Phoneix Concert Theatre. Only the first 200 fans were let in, which guaranteed jostling and name-dropping at the door to see charismatic frontman Jesse Hughes tantalize and tease all the "beautiful baby girls" in the audience.

Off the beaten path, however, hidden away in the Kensington Market, the Supermarket was host to a slightly unofficial showcase. Even though the bill, which included The Treasures from Toronto and the Manvils from Vancouver, was not officially announced in any of the programs floating around the city, the headliners still managed to draw a handful of grateful fan away from the bigger-draw shows.

By the time I made it to Supermarket, The Treasures were taking the stage. A country quintet that almost seems out of place in Toronto, they played a competent, if slightly tepid, set. It was clear that most of the people in attendance were there to see the Manvils, but the Treasures still managed to get some feet tapping and some hips shaking.

The Manvils owned the bill last night, however. The trio played an energetic and rowdy show that refused to slow down. Showcasing songs primarily from their full-length, the Manvils played with a confidence that betrayed their humble demeanours. It is clear to see why the Vancouver rockers are quickly gaining recognition across Canada: full of hooks and attitude, they play an accessible, polished rock and roll that skirts the line between '60s pop and early-'70s proto-punk. Frontman Mikey Manville was an imposing figure on the stage, sharing the front with bassist, Greg Buhr. Songs like "Turpentine," "Substation," and "Strange Disaster" were catchy and immaculately performed, with just the right amount of live grit to provide fans familiar with the album cut some new surprises.

After the Manvils' set at Supermarket, a quick jaunt to the Bovine Sex Club for a late , 2 am, show was in order. Local punk rockers the Victim Party were making their way through a loud and enthusiastic set that commanded the room. Sounding like a cross between celtic punks Dropkick Murphys and the legendary Misfits, the six-piece annihilated the punk venue. Sporting two vocalists, two guitarists and a tight rhythm section, the band was appropriately loose for the late night and in good spirits. They played with youthful energy that was cause for celebration and more drinking. While there were those who hid in the back, preferring conversation to music, they were heavily outnumbered by the mass of bobbing fans at the front of the venue.

An excellent start to NXNE, to be sure! Up tonight: miesha and the spanks, little foot long foot, Mini Mansions, the 222s, and so many more!

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