North by Northeast wrapped up on Sunday so, as promised, here’s another set of highlights from the best weekend of the year. This will cover Friday night, which was night two of the three nights we spent peregrinating around Toronto’s best indie rock venues to see the world’s best indie rock bands.


Trucked it out to Mod Club to go see Brody Dalle – failed to gain entrance, despite possession of 5-day wristbands. Have decided (for future reference) that, at NxNE, if you have to take a streetcar to get there, it is not a show worth going to (pro-tip #1).


Saw The Superstitions at Reverb (upstairs – I forget the actual name of the room). They looked like clean-cut kids who’d just arrived from the sock-hop, which is a good metaphor for their show – tight and fun, if a little safe.


Caught the last minute of…something…in the bottom floor of Reverb. Some kind of death metal with only discernible lyrics being “BLOOOOD! BLOOOOD!!!!” Fantastic.


Stopped to talk to marketing street team for Strut brand wine. Entire group of friends I was with had individual photos taken and projected 30-feet tall onto neighbouring building. Discovered that when I do a disco pose, I look silly in photographs. Got free wine out of it, though, so no harm.


Discovered my new favourite TO patio at Hideout. Large-ish, with comfortable (and not mouldy or sketchy) couches. Also spontaneously developed a taste for Amsterdam Blonde. Watched set by Triggerfinger, a bluesy hard-rock band from Belgium. Singer was amusingly creepy, repeatedly reminding audience that “booties are made for shaking”. Almost as hilarious were the drunk scenesters who (mid-set) enthusiastically pestered the bass player with business cards and technical questions about distortion pedals until being escorted away from stage by bouncer.

(Here’s some more from Evil Shananigans on our encounter with Triggerfinger – that’s right, our experience was so awesome that news of it made it all the way to England)


Walked to Queen and Spadina to see who was playing at Horseshoe. Encountered line-up, decided that, at NxNE, if you have to line up to get in, it is not a show worth going to (pro-tip #2). Tried Rivoli – made it through 1/2 a song and walked out. Don’t know how Rivoli manages to attract so many bands that I hate, but it’s the only club I ever walk out of during the festival and I did it three times.


Head to Kensington to check out Supermarket. Made it in time for last two songs by the paint movement, an indie-pop group with a killer sax player. Stayed for Fox Jaws, a dance-rock group from Barrie, who was a personal highlight at last year’s festival largely because of their singer and the almost Shirley Bassey quality to her voice. They did not disappoint. In between sets, my friends and I broke into spontaneous rendition of some song by Boston (I think it was Boston – maybe Europe), garnering strange looks and guffaws from other patrons. Sang louder.


Walked to El Mocambo to catch the downstairs closer, a hardcore band from Montreal called Bionic. Got there in time for last song by The Sadies, kind of a rockabilly band from Toronto. Not bad. Saw Melissa Auf Der Maur on the way back from the bathroom, rudely interrupted her conversation to tell her I liked her show the previous night. She said thanks. I’m not claiming to be cool or anything, but I did talk to Melissa Auf Der Maur. Just saying.


Bionic absolutely destroyed the small crowd assembled – just destroyed them. Also destroyed my new sneakers, but whatever. Were loud, fast and aggressive with blazing licks and absolutely no filters or hang-ups in front of an audience – one of those bands that has fun from the moment they step on stage and like to make sure you’re having fun too (largely by making you feel like a pussy if you’re not having fun). Announced that they were breaking up and that this would be their last show in TO, much to our disappointment. Still, this was a definite highlight. Iain gets big props for forcing us to stay up way past our bedtimes to see them.


Home around 4am after pizza and a cab ride. Vaguely remember heated argument in cab about whether Jaguar XK8s are nice cars or if they are only for “old men”. Someone pulls out a comparison to Astin Martin, which I feel is unfair. It didn’t come to blows, but it was close.

Day Two completed successfully – details on Day Three to come.


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