Featuring: PARAGROOVE, The Details, Parlour Steps, Xavier Caffeine, Melissa Auf Der Maur, Down with Webster, The Balconies, Dragonette, USS.
Hyatt Regency (NXPO) Stage, 3pm
With a band that has comparisons to Chicago and Jamaroquoi, it was surprising to see a band of 13 members all sharing the tiny stage at once. Even at some moments when the drummer was performing a solo, the entire band had to kneel down so we knew who was playing on the NXPO stage. On the other hand, it was good when it came to lifting up the guitarist during one of his massive solos. With an eclectic mix of worldly sounds, PAPAGROOVE still managed to surprise you with a crazy lyrical rampage from lead singer Sebastien Francisque who can belt it out like if Rage singer Zach de la Rocha had talented chops. From Montreal, QC, Canada, PAPAGROOVE may have started their set late but they chugged along and showed what they got. Each member stands out on their own with funny hats, sunglasses, regular glasses, or just crazy hair but with the combined talented within a band larger than Arcade Fire, they show what they can do, each and every one of them. I give their performance 4.5/5 with a 0.5 deduction due to their claustrophobic set.
– Andrew Tomayer
Hyatt Regency (NXPO) Stage, 4pm
This four piece band from Winnipeg, consisting of Jon Plett on lead vocals/guitar, Keli Martin on bass, Sean Videl on lead guitar/back-up vocals, and Shaun Gibson on drums gave a decent performance on the NXPO stage. They have a sound that ranges from very soft to very hard rock vibe that can be compared with the likes of the Shins, New Pornographers (minus the keyboard), and Silversun Pickups. Each member looked like they pulled their weight, other than the bassist. Her parts seemed too small, too simple, and too easy, as if they just got her in the band to give it some sex appeal. Sean Videl was complaining about his amplifier top that would have stood better on a bent coffee table, yes it fell over quite a lot and then Jon kept talking about his guitar between songs. They have a cool sound but they just seemed a little off the mark on the entertainment part. They just should have been a little more prepared. The show they had later in the day may have been more entertaining but you would have had to have been there I guess. Overall, the performance was good but they just sounded a little too forgettable. (3.5/5)
– Andrew Tomayer
Hyatt Regency (NXPO) Stage, 5pm
Claiming they are from the west coast of Canada, more specifically from Vancouver according to their myspace page (www.myspace.com/parloursteps). They consist of Allyson Mara on Keyboards who had a cheery demeanour even when banging on the tambourine, Caleb Stull on lead vocal/guitar who was great, Robert Linton on drums who did a good job keeping the rhythm and time, Julie Bavalis on bass/vocals who wore her horned-rimmed glasses like she knew she could rock it, and finally Rees Haynes who is a BAMF on lead guitar. Their tunes were catchy, fun, and upbeat, and they made me pay attention with their fantastic sound. It was very enjoyable and very fun to say the least. Everyone had a very important piece to give and with their clever interludes and disguises, they showed they can make it much farther in the industry, unlike the many nameless, forgettable bands in this festival. I would say if you can, go listen to them right now, if their recorded work is anything like their live music. This band is what I like to see at a multi-band festival, something that is amusing and incredible. (5/5)
– Andrew Tomayer
Younge-Dundas Square, 7pm
So I took a break, had something to eat at the Eaton Centre, and made my way to Younge-Dundas Square to catch Xavier Cafeine. Now, this was a punk outfit from Montreal, Quebec and Xavier’s outfit seemed a bit over the top, wearing some sort of armband to try to make the faux-hawk Frenchman look more Japanese than he really is (or isn’t should I say). But I digress, they played a decent set, however, since they come from Montreal almost all of their songs were French. The main piano/guitarist looked like a Billy Idol impersonator, the drummer reminded me of a member of the Hives, the bassist looked like someone that just was fired from General Motors, and the backup guitarist was so dull that he could not even slice through a banana. The set was somewhat catchy for a unique amalgamation of performers, but overall, if you are not French, you would only really enjoy a little bit of their performance. (3/5)
– Andrew Tomayer
Melissa Auf Der Maur,
Younge-Dundas Square, 8pm
This former Hole/Smashing Pumpkin also from Montreal, QC, Canada, gave her performance at Younge-Dundas Square following Xavier Cafeine with barely any avail. Even the shows announcer called her the “third most important Canadian bassist next to Geddy Lee and the dude from Avril Lavigne’s band.” She has made songs, yes, but they are not that fantastic in my opinion. Her trancy sound and echoey voice may be hypnotic, which I can see, but sadly not hear. S
he was just too pretentious with her attitude but could not back it up with music for the masses. There are likely many naysayers (cough…Sean…cough) but if you prefer a hypnotic voice that could probably lead sailors to their doom, see I made a siren joke, ha ha, then go ahead and listen to Melissa’s music, I am not stopping you. However, from what I saw and heard, nothing was catchy to me. You gave a good performance to some, but not all. (2/5)
– Andrew Tomayer, Photos by Sean Chin
* I personally thought she had a solid set – Sean Chin *
Down with Webster,
Thursday June 18, 2009 @ Kool Haus, 8:45pm
In a co-effort with Peace dot Love, which is a charitable organization raising awareness to end violence in the inner downtown core of Toronto, NXNE ‘09 put on a spectacular rock/pop/fusion lineup at the Kool Haus. I’ve never really listened to Down with Webster before, however after hearing what some folks were saying about them, I had to check them out. They unleashed a whirl-wind of energy and cranked it up to 11 from the get go of their set. However, just after their second song, technical difficulties struck. Despite this 10 minute wait, the crowd was treated with a solid free-style performance from their MC. Down with Webster’s style is really unique and I personally don’t think I would have it on my constant playlist, however, I do give them big props on their live act for sure. Nonetheless, it was nice getting to finally see them perform for such a good cause.
– Sean Chin
The Drake Hotel, 9pm
Ooooh, ooh wah ooh, Ooooh Weee oooh, ooh wah ooh. That, my friend, is some catchy shit from their song The Slo. This made day one perfect. Three kids from Ontario (I believe they said Toronto, but I am not certain) just having fun on their instruments and they made it grand. They are pretty young though so there is much room to improve and get on the likes of such similar sounding bands as Tokyo Police Club, Broken Social Scene, and Stars. They had a great performance and I danced while I was taking pictures with my digital camera (I am not a pro photographer, I am a writer dammit :-@). I can officially say it was a good end to a tiring, stress-filled day. The red spotlight shone on the trio as they performed with every last ounce of energy they had in them. They coerced my ears to very satisfying music and they made the long walk down Queen Street well worth it. If they continue down this path, making such catchy and entertaining songs, they could possibly have the heart of the world in the palms of their hands. Music was great, they were dressed to impress, and they acted as if they enjoyed the company of each other. Thank you for making the Thursday very enjoyable, kudos to the “pay what you want” CDs too.
– Andrew Tomayer
Thursday June 18, 2009 @ Kool Haus, 9:50pm
href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/seanchinphotography/3643278943/” title=”Dragonette @ Kool Haus by Sean Chin Photography, on Flickr”>
Martina Sorbara and the gang gave the concert-goers a playful experience that they will not forget for a long time. Kicking off with their major hit “I Get Around” and with dramatic lighting effects, it pretty much guaranteed a solid act. I saw them once before at Virgin Festival and actually got to chat with Martina for a bit and was so impressed with their enthusiasm that I just had to see them again. Dragonette’s new and second album entitled “Fixin to Thrill” is going to be released this fall 2009. They played a few of their new tracks including one called “Titties”.
The setlist for the night was 1. I get Around 2. Big Sunglass3. Gone too Far 4. Take it 5. Pick the Phone 6. Competition 7. Titties 8. Stupid Grin 9. Black Limbo 10. Fixin. Overall, a really good performance by the “Canadian-UK” pop rock band.
– Sean Chin
Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker,
Thursday June 18, 2009 @ Kool Haus, 11:15pm
U.S.S is the future of the Toronto and Canadian music scene. Prior to 2009, I hailed them as the band of 2009 and they have not disappointed at all. I’ve seen these crazy dudes before and they are still as unpredictable on stage as ever, if not more. There is never a dull moment when Ashley Boo-Schultz and Human Kebab are on stage. Tracking them down through the camera view finder and trying to anticipate their next move is as easy as trying to get your dog to make you a jelly sandwich. Their EP Welding the C:/ began the movement and their debut full-length album Questamation solidified their foundation in the Canadian music scene. Shortly after their epic intro and a few songs later, they called for the dancers!!! The likes of a giant lion, wrestler Rey Mysterio look-alike and more took over the Kool Haus stage and danced along the dynamic duo. Fun times eh?