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2006 06 12
NXNE - Toronto - 06
This past weekend Toronto hosted the NXNE music and film festival. For over 10 years the offspring of Austin’s SXSW has graced the streets of Toronto. This year it feels that it has hit its stride. Clubs were packed and the streets were alive with people from all over the world engaging with Toronto. Everyone who attends a music festival walks away with a different story. I have been attending music festivals for 24 years and I feel I have it down. I usually run alone and try to gather a crowd along the way. I refuse to see less than 5 bands a night and I like to get multiple clubs.

Wednesday night was a launch party at the all new Palais Royale. Clearly a ton of money was spent on taking the old hall and making it new again. The place looked sleek not the place where the Pogues, God Speek You Black Emperor and the Rolling Stones played. I doubt it will be host to future punk rock shows but it did look nice. The patio which in the past seemed like you may be taking your life into your own hands just to look at the lake. The patio was packed all night and everyone in the music business in Canada seemed to be there with additions from America, Denmark and the U.K.

Night two was the launch of the music showcases. I started my night on the roof of the EMI music publishing party. This party has become the most important event within the event. It is more like a family party hosted by EMI president Mike McCarty and his wife Sam. I arrived with my friend Eva to see Moe Berg (The Pursuit of Happiness) his wife Laura and their 7 month old baby Fireese. The little one was wearing a KISS army tshirt which filled my heart with joy. On the rooftop drinks flowed and burgers flipped. The Champ (Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene) manned the decks and everyone traded notes on who were the hottest bands to see. From the roof at Spadina and Adelaide you get a clear view in all directions of downtown Toronto. The most interesting for me this year was looking east on Adelaide. Adelaide is a great street. It cuts through the city the same way 7th Avenue cuts through Manhattan.

Eve and I hooked up with Stacey, Miro and Sean for some quick Sushi before heading to all girl metal band from Japan Megababe’s show. They rock the El Mocambo and our group splits into severl small pieces as we all have different pm shows.

We find everyone in the music business crammed into the back of the Gypsy Co-Op at 10pm for Motley Crue wanna bes Slute. The crowd was split evenly between haters and labels with check books out. I predict everyone in the world will get a chance to decide on Slute within a year.

I tried to catch Inside A Mind upstairs at Hooch but the heatwave was in effect and I headed to College St. to see Girl and the Machine. By this time I was alone again and sticking to my rules of not saying goodbye or listening to anyone else. As I sat alone at the bar a Japanese girl approached me to see if I wanted a free lollipop. She was dressed in a Kimono and had a bit of an accent. She said “we are girl and the machine and we are up next”. She seemed happy to find out I was there to see them and walked away with tiny Geisha steps. When the band hit the tiny stage of Ciao Edie swirled in smoke they sounded great. She fronted the band and at the end of the first song she undid her Kimono in a bizarre art dance with her back to the audience. She spun around and opened the Kimono to expose her hip hugger jeans and corseted torso. She turns into an art rocker supreme.

The last band was Zox over at The Drake Hotel. They were worth staying up late there and I was able to reunite with a bunch of friends there. Zox are like a punk/jam band with violin as the main instrument. These guys sold 8000 records without even having a record label and it was easy to see why.

The next couple of days were filled with panels and pool parties at the Holiday Inn and BBQ at Global Village Backpackers and the brand new Six Shooter Records store.

Six Shooter have put together the hippest record and art store I have ever seen. The store is in the east end at Queen and Pape and I highly recommend you go there and spend as much money as possible on Canadian independent music.

The next few nights were filled with incredible music and late night meals on Spadina. I caught Hot Springs, Besnard Lakes, King Kahn, VCR, John Kastner, Noah’s Arkweld and a few that I didn’t even catch the names of. At other legendary clubs like Lee’s Palace the Horeshoe and the Bovine just to name a few bands played until the wee hours of the night. Everyone I ran into would tell me a different story of their version of the NXNE. All seemed to have as good a time as me and most saw and entirely different set of bands. I highly recommend buying a badge or wristband next year when the festival hits again. We are pretty lucky to live in a city with so much music culture happening. Toronto clubs are open every night and I think you can try to make your own festival anytime you want. Start with Elvis Monday at the Drake and hit New Music Tuesday at the Horeshoe. Pretty soon you will find yourself listening to the next Feist or Arcade Fire before they have even recorded a note.
[email this story] Posted by Jeff Rogers on 06/12 at 10:52 AM

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