Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Britt Daniel

Watch This: Vol. 31

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.

5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 3

With the 20th anniversary of NXNE set to take place in a month (the music leg runs from the 18th to the 22nd, though there are film, comedy, and interactive legs before that), it’s time to kick the pre-fest coverage into high gear. After all, there’s a lot to cover considering how extensively packed this year’s lineup is. While Heartbreaking Bravery does its best to place an emphasis on the bands currently engrossed in the DIY circuit, it’s good to remember that most major acts started on the same foot. Which is why in this volume of the 5 to See series, both emerging and established artists will be covered. It’d be downright cruel not to shine a spotlight on someone as artistically creative as, say, St. Vincent. With all of that out of the way (and kept in mind), here are five acts absolutely worth catching next month in Toronto.

1.  Spoon

What to Know: There are few bands out there who have managed to define their identity the way Spoon has. As influential as they’ve become, it’s still difficult to find good bands that sound even remotely like them. It’s not something that should come as too much of a surprise, though, it was a fairly singular style to begin with. If anything, structurally, the band leans closer to classic jazz than anything in the modern canon. All nerve, razor-sharp precision, and erratic blasts, they’ve earned their level of celebrity. They’re worth celebrating for being one of the bands that went against the grain and won. Boasting a remarkably consistent discography (they’ve yet to make anything that comes even close to approaching blandness) and an impressive live show, this is an act that’ll be tough to afford to miss.

What to Watch:

2. Mutual Benefit

What to Know: Jordan Lee’s outfit has now earned itself places on two Watch This installments (Vol. 19 and Vol. 25), earned itself well-deserved raves with last year’s gorgeous Love’s Crushing Diamond, and become an unlikely success story that it’s easy to feel good about. Expect this to be one of the most well-attended (and most haunting) sets of NXNE. One look at the video below should be enough to sell just about anyone.

What to Watch:

3. Spiritualized

What to Know: Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space is a tranquil masterpiece. Seeing any one of those songs played live may be just the come-down that’s needed after a day of running between one venue and the other, trying to frantically catch every band possible. It’ll likely be another instance of a set that feels removed from the chaos that surrounds it- and that’s always worth something. For a transcendental quietude, look no further.

What to Watch:

4. Eagulls

What to Know: Eagulls’ self-titled effort from earlier this year has proven to be one of the better records of recent memory and their were countless reports of their live show from SXSW that fell way closer to completely enamored than not. A band that’s very much on the up, their set will undoubtedly draw a pretty strong (and frenzied) crowd. They’ll be a must-stop destination for people looking to get their adrenaline pumping to avoid the risk of exhaustion. It’s hard to imagine that people are sleeping on this.

What to Watch:

5. St. Vincent

What to Know: For once, the collective music industry’s crush on an artist seems completely justified. Annie Clark’s project grows defiantly weirder as it progresses, running the danger of maxing out the art-pop genre and perfecting it once and for all.St. Vincent is currently 2014’s most acclaimed major release and she’s accentuating more weirdness than ever post-David Byrne collaboration. Anyone who champions the filthiest and most disgusting guitar tones and manages to throw as much sludge as possible at what would otherwise be conventionally beautiful pop songs is more than worth anyone’s time. Her set will be a can’t-miss appointment.  

What to Watch: