NXNE: Day 1 (Pictorial Review, Video)

by Steven Spoerl

nxne

And so it begins; the photographs are undergoing their respective editing phases, the videos are being uploaded, and the countless thoughts pertaining to this year’s NXNE are being organized. There will be a lot of coverage that gets run here in various formats: video features, summaries, pictorial reviews, full reviews, and more. Virtually all of it will be posted immediately after the final edits are made so expect a wealth of daily content to close out this week and throughout next week as well. With all of that out of the way, let’s move on to the photographs and video that got captured during Day 1 of NXNE 2014- and the summaries to help give them some context.

Day 1 began with a stunning contrast; the manic post-everything insanity of Guerilla Toss vs. their unusually elegant surroundings (The Great Hall). Arriving a little bit late to Guerilla Toss’ set didn’t prove to be too much of an issue- the crowd that had gathered for them was abysmally small- but they played like they always do, unleashing virtually everything they’ve got (and showcasing some very promising new material in the process). It wasn’t too long before at least one band member had lost an article of clothing (though they’re notorious for losing much more) and were coercing everyone up onto the stage. With the crowd now split, half on the stage and half still in the standing area, the band instructed those that were on the stage to promptly get off of it, then join hands and surround the audience members who didn’t come up in a circle. From that point forward, the hand-held circle was now instructed to run counterclockwise at the start of their next song, increasingly tightening around the audience in the middle in an effort to force them out and onto the stage. This somehow lasted for close to three songs before it dispersed- and Guerilla Toss left soon after, looking visibly spent and more than a little ecstatic.

After Guerilla Toss’ well-intentioned shenanigans, The Great Hall was abandoned for Toronto’s best sweatbox: Smiling Buddha. Arriving just after a dispute of some sort had broken out inside the venue caused a brief delay while the police were called to the scene. After everything had fallen back into pace, people were admitted once again- and just in time for Mexican Slang. It may have been due to whatever the disturbance was (no one seemed to know the specifics) but Mexican Slang wound up playing the shortest set of the festival. While they weren’t NXNE’s most engaging or energetic live band, it’s worth noting that their sound was very tight-knit and the last song of their set was one of the very best of Day 1.

Greys took the stage soon after that, tuning and setting up as usual before doing something very unusual: they announced they were done before they played a single song. Instead of starting their set, they cleared the stage for their labelmates The Beverleys and allowed them a couple songs. There were many speculating this was a reaction to NXNE’s problematic “radius clause” that prohibited several bands from participating in conflicting non-festival shows (this clause was, thankfully, lifted before the festival came to a close). The Beverleys took full advantage of the opportunity and played with genuine heart making for the festival’s first truly great moment.

Greys then took their mantle back up and guitarist/vocalist Shehzaad Jiwani delivered a heartfelt speech which addressed the young musicians in the audience, making sure they remembered that they didn’t work for the music industry- that the music industry worked for them. Following that, the band tore through a blistering set that leaned heavily on their extraordinary just-released Carpark debut If Anything. All of the songs seemed to melt into each other, giving the whole thing a feeling that was as relentless as their music.  It was easily the best set of Day 1 and even found time for a ferocious cover of Mission of Burma’s “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate”. By the time their set had come to a close, it was evident that more than a few people would be making sure to see them at least one more time before the festival came to a close. Packaged with everything else, it was a fairly strong start to what would prove to be an incredibly memorale festival.

Watch a slightly blown-out sounding video of Greys performing “I’m Okay” below and look through the photo gallery of Day 1 beneath the video.