Watch This: Vol. 31
by Steven Spoerl
In the midst of the NXNE coverage that will continue to run, there are times where a look back will provide a sense of gratitude. Sometimes something as trivial as investing in a new camera to move away from the old one manages to open a few new doors. With that in mind, this week’s Watch This, while a little late, is full of the gratitude mentioned above. It’s a unique entry in the series in the sense that a lot of it will serve as a preview for upcoming pieces. Each and every one of these was shot in Toronto- a few as part of the festival and a few outside of it. All of these shows were memorable for varying reasons and the last video included may very well wind up on the top of this site’s inevitable “Best Shows of the Year” list. So, sit back, select the HD option, pardon the sound, relax, and Watch This.
1. Spoon – Small Stakes (Live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern)
There may have been some unnecessary behind-the-scenes drama happening with Spoon’s involvement as a “secret” headliner on NXNE’s best bill during it’s third day- but the band puts on a hell of a performance. Boasting one of the more consistent discographies of the past ten years, songs like Kill the Moonlight highlight “Small Stakes” still sound as vibrant as they did when they were first released. Seeing a band of this magnitude play a venue as small as The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern was a surreal experience- it’s just hard not to wish it was under better circumstances.
2. Shannon & the Clams – Ozma (Live at Lee’s Palace)
In a short while, the Day 2 review will be going up on this site. A paragraph of this is dedicated to Shannon & the Clams’ near-perfect set at Lee’s Palace. “Ozma”, in particular, stood out- it’s one of those songs that deserves to be considered a classic generations down the line- and the band manages to do that statement more than a little justice in the below performance.
3. Pleasure Leftists (Live at Smiling Buddha)
During their time in Toronto, Pleasure Leftists played two incredible shows and neither were an official part of NXNE. On the first night, they co-headlined the Summer Melt unofficial festival with actual secret headliners Perfect Pussy (video of their set occupies this week’s fifth slot) and the next day they tore up Smiling Buddha’s stage as an opener for a bill that included Holy Fuck and METZ. Despite not being NXNE official, Pleasure Leftists wound up delivering two of the best sets- and standing out as one of the best live bands- of the entire trip. Watch the video below for reassurance.
4. Speedy Ortiz – No Below (Live at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern)
There are very few songs that hold as much emotion and contrast as Speedy Ortiz’s “No Below”. Here, they perform it with meaning and it resonates just as strongly as it ever has. When guitarist Devin McKnight jumps into that solo? Chills. It’s tough to illustrate how incredible this song and this performance is with something as simple as words- so stop reading and just watch the video.
5. Perfect Pussy – Advance Upon the Real (Live at Soy Bomb)
When someone came into the bar next to The Great Hall and asked Meredith Graves if Perfect Pussy wanted to be added onto a late bill that Pleasure Leftists were playing, her face lit up. It was impossible not to be right there with her. More details emerged: it was at a half pipe, a slew of local bands were playing, it would run late into the night. It sounded perfect in theory but did it hold up to its promise? Yes. Absolutely. After Pleasure Leftists scorched the floor around them, Perfect Pussy set up and delivered one of their most blistering sets to date. It’s tough not to just write a full review of this right now but that would take up way too much space and a full post dedicated to this show specifically is a much more appropriate place for that to reside. In the meantime, use this as a sneak peek and catch this band live as soon as humanly possible.