Heartbreaking Bravery

stevenmps2@gmail.com | @steven_mps | @hbreakbravery

Tag: pictures

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 7

PWR BTTM I

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

The preceding galleries can be accessed via these links:

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 1
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 2
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 3
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 5
2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 6

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 4

Car Seat Headrest

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

 

2015: A Visual Retrospective, Vol. 2

Girlpool I

Throughout the course of 2015 I’ve been fortunate enough to attend upwards of 100 shows, festivals big and small, and spend approximately half a year living in a city that hosted a mind-boggling amount of quality shows on a nightly basis. To that end, it’s probably unsurprising that I wound up taking over 10,000 photos this year alone. Over the course of the next few days, this site will be running seven volumes of the shots that stood out as personal favorites, whether that was due to their composition, sentimental attachment, or an intangible emotional or intellectual response. It’s been an honor to be able to take even the smallest part in the ongoing sagas of the artists in the photographs below and an additional thanks is due to the venues that allowed me to shoot (as well as the people who encouraged me to keep shooting).

Enjoy the gallery.

A Short Stretch (Pictorial Review)

Johanna Warren V

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to take in a lot of shows- but as that number quickly balloons, it becomes difficult to post features about each and every one. It may be due to an extenuating factor like a repeat bill (Eskimeaux, Elvis Depressedly, and Mitski played two shows in a few days and I attended both) or a heavy amount of coverage rightfully bestowed on a particular act in a short amount of time (as was the case with PWR BTTM). Additionally, if there’s only one musical act playing an intimate friends-only type of affair (Johanna Warren), it becomes almost sacred; an event that should go largely untouched. Conversely, if it’s a one-act spectacle rooted in confined mystery (Ronnie Stone & The Lonely Riders), it’s best to uphold the convictions of the artist. With all of that taken into account, it still seemed appropriate to eventually share a brief gallery of some of that documentation. A gallery of most of the artists mentioned above- and a few more that weren’t listed- can be seen below. Enjoy.

 

Meredith Graves – Took the Ghost to the Movies (Stream, Photos)

Meredith Graves XXII

One of the things I’ve been looking forward to about 2015 is the gradual unveiling of Meredith Graves‘ solo project. It’s something the tirelessly creative artist has had in the cards for more than a year. Now, after a near-torturous developmental stage marked by immovable deadlines and increasingly heightened expectations, the first look towards what that solo project might wind up sounding similar to has arrived. “Took the Ghost to the Movies” is Graves’ side of Kevin Devine’s  Devinyl split 7″ series. As an evolutionary step in Graves’ solo career, it’s full of intrigue. Bridging elements of her past projects- the damaged romanticim of the lo-fi folk outfit Mouse and the Love & Light Orkestra and the feral intensity of the wall-of-noise acolytes Shoppers, to create something that’s extremely representative of the trials Graves has faced throughout her personal life and her professional career.

I make that last claim with the benefit of knowing Meredith, who has consistently remained one of this site’s most avid supporters since the outset of the project, and her empathetic ideals. “Took the Ghost to the Movies”, more than anything else she’s done, has reminded me of specific moments that I’ve been fortunate enough to have with Graves. Whether it be letting an interview devolve into a Skype hangout session, letting our brains melt into nothingness on a small hammock in the middle of Pitchfork last year, the way she greeted me at NXNE when I showed up (relatively) unannounced in another country, NXNE’s tensest moment, staying up forever on Jes Skolnik’s couch waiting for food to be delivered, spending a summer lost in a cavalcade of exchanged calls and messages, or trading solo demos of new songs in an effort of encouragement to lessen the burden of the near-herculean task she was faced with while coming up with songs for her solo project.

All of those moments are present once again when I play through “Took the Ghost to the Movies” (something I’ve done more than 10 times at this point) but the one that sticks out most is the demo exchange. One of those demos stands out clearest. Having never heard any of Graves’ rawer material it was almost startling to hear a song coming from her stripped back to its barest essentials (nothing but acoustic guitar and vocals). The song itself was a serene ambient folk number with multitracked vocals that was devastating in its tranquility. It was a song I took with me; listening to it in secret through headphones on road trips or out in places where bodies of water met land and rock(s). Several storms were soundtracked by that small, humble recording throughout the summer and listening to it always felt like a warm embrace from a friend.

That song would become “Took the Ghost to the Movies”.

In its original stage, “Took the Ghost to the Movies” was entirely unexpected and inexplicably gorgeous. Over the past year, the song’s morphed into a sprawling beast of a song, finding its identity in a heavy shoegaze bent that was only hinted at in Shoppers. Opening with a gentle misdirect, “Took the Ghost to the Movies” suddenly unloads a series of brutal snare hits that sound like a slow-motion machine gun while a sprawling, dense, ambient guitar creates an atmosphere that’s both impossibly ominous and completely reassuring. In the SPIN feature where the track premiered, Graves brings up her appreciation for My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and Nothing, and the dichotomies that earned each of those bands their vaunted reputations (and, in My Bloody Valentine’s case, legendary stature) are reflected to some degree in Graves’ first outing bearing only her name.

Graves has endured a vile resistance that’s still (infuriatingly) the common norm when a powerful non-male voice emerges and is willing to fight for things that matter (just look at any of BrooklynVegan’s comment threads on literally any post involving Perfect Pussy or Graves for further proof). With that fight and those experiences come burdens. Regret, self-doubt, sadness, anger, frustration, and a whole host of other inherently difficult barricades to happiness. Fortunately, Graves’ skin is thick and she’s been able to find contentment, happiness, and- more often than not- vindication. It’s something that Graves’ troubled past has prepared her for and it factors into why she resists the things she finds harmful. It’s also how she can create things that sound as formidable (and as damaged) as “Took the Ghost to the Movies”.

Returning to guitar for the first time since Shoppers seems to have reinvigorated Graves’ quieter aggression. In Perfect Pussy, she’s allowed to be uninhibited in her presentation of that aggression thanks to unrestricted motion and an emphasis on, well, emphasis. For “Took the Ghost to the Movies”, the reintroduction of guitar has allowed her to tap into something otherworldly that enhances the atmosphere rather than punctuating the reasons it exists. It’s a subtle change of pace but it suits the song incredibly well, even as the drums threaten to destroy everything (and, in turn, create a slow-burn tension that propels the song into stunning territories). While Graves’ vocals are still buried, so is some of the pain that they illustrate. Not everyone that’s faced the things Graves has faced has made it out to tell those stories; it’s only natural that some of it’s a little more hidden than expected.

Triumphant, defiant, and inescapable, “Took the Ghost to the Movies” is as boldly confident as anything Graves (always and forever this site’s patron saint) has done, and it provides no shortage of hope for the songwriter’s future endeavors. Uncompromising and defined by slivers of hope in the midst of a surprisingly bleak landscape, the song gives Kevin Devine a lot to compete with for his side of the split.

Pre-order Devinyl Splits No. 2 from Bad Timing here and listen to the final cut of “Took the Ghost to the Movies” below. Underneath the embed, revisit a collection of photographs of Graves that have previously run on this site in conjunction with this site’s coverage of Perfect Pussy. Enjoy (and don’t hesitate on that pre-order).

NXNE: Day 4 + 5 (Review, Photos)

Courtney Barnett XIV

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Once again, apologies are necessary for the long drought of material. I have been organizing, writing, shooting, editing, and attending more events than usual. This has taken up a considerable amount of time but Heartbreaking Bravery hasn’t been forgotten. In fact, most of it has been for the site and will be posted about shortly. Full attention will return shortly and regular posting will resume along with it.]

NXNE is now more than a month in the past but it’s difficult not to keep returning to those shows. The last two days of that Toronto trip were made up of some of the most explosively visceral and gratifying shows anyone could possibly ask for. Two of those shows won’t be accounted for in this review as they weren’t official parts of the festival. Both shows will be given their own full reviews following everything here. Now that all of that’s out of the way, onto the shows themselves.

Day 4 of NXNE kicked off at Sonic Boom where noise/hardcore duo Creep Highway immediately set about providing as much sonic destruction as they possibly could. The duo, led by guitarist/vocalist Michael DeForge, played a fierce, ragged set that saw inflections of powerviolence weaving in and out of their songs. It was an arresting start and both DeForge and drummer Patrick Kyle looked exhausted, but happy, when the last bits of feedback were finally cut off. After happily enduring their onslaught, it was a mad dash over to The Great Hall for Perfect Pussy, looking to avoid another unfortunate situation.

Not two steps were taken into a crowded Great Hall before hearing Graves’ earnest “Hi, we’re Perfect Pussy” led the band straight into their usual chaos. Only this time, unlike the (admittedly mesmerizing) performance not even twelve hours prior, everything went off without a hitch. Their levels were mixed well, Graves’ confrontational pleading was audible, Greg Ambler’s bass- and bass amp- were both in tact, and the audience fed into the band’s energy with a strong display of their own. All of the usual highlights remained extraordinarily strong moments (“Interference Fits”, in particular- still as much of a contender for “song of the decade” as it’s ever been) and by the time Shaun Sutkus’ loops were turning into decays in the epilogue section of “Advance Upon the Real”, Graves was sitting onstage with her backpack, entranced by her bandmate, and looking deservedly pleased. All in all, it was over in about twenty minutes and wound up as another strong example of their live prowess.

After sticking around to hear a few enchanting songs from ANAIKA and leaving with Graves for a very revealing conversation about the previous nights events, it was off to the Ryerson University outdoor stage for an enchanting set from Frankie Cosmos. Graced with good weather and good sound, the young (and very prolific) singer-songwriter delivered each of her songs in high spirits to a small but appreciative crowd. Fan favorite “On the Lips” proved to be an easy high point; it’s as sweet and startling as it’s ever been. All of Cosmos’ bands played off her to near-perfection, each seeming like a natural extension of her songs themselves. By the end of the set, they were all miming their respective parts before falling down in a memorable bit of unassuming humor that wound up being the perfect capper to what was one of the festival’s most endearing performances.

When Frankie Cosmos’ set had come to a close, it was difficult to keep up (any serious festival attendee or reporter will attest to how exhausting the most extensive can be) so there was a dead-zone until Swearin’ took things over at Smiling Buddha. After dealing with some unfortunate mixing situations the previous night, it was a thrill that bordered on catharsis to enter a venue and hear the band in fine form, mixed to perfection. Once again, they offered up an incredibly balanced set that had clear highlights in particularly fiery renditions of “What A Dump”, “Dust in the Gold Sack”, and “Movie Star”. By the time their set had drawn to a close, they’d thrown down the perfect reminder of why they’ve earned so much critical adoration and fan loyalty. Swearin’ are one of the best bands out there- not an easy claim to make, but an impossible one to ignore after seeing a set like that one. A perfect way to end the official festival portion of Day 4.

Day 5 would be split between two venues and only one of them was an official NXNE showcase, which is why this is being included here instead of given separate billing. That showcase took place, once more, at Sonic Boom (and was graciously hosted by the inimitable Chart Attack– who had hosted the previous day as well). It began with a rousing set from one of Australia’s finest exports, Courtney Barnett. An early crowd had formed for the on-the-rise artist and Barnett delivered the way she always does; with warmth, grace, and an endless supply of smiles. No one in the band seemed able to contain their happiness or gratitude and were even smiling through their technical difficulties (which were expertly maneuvered into noise sections that fit the songs so perfectly that it almost felt like they should be integral parts of the band’s sound/records). It was a surprisingly ragged set (made even more ragged by Barnett’s virtue of refusing to use a pick) that sounded as blissed-out as the band looked, even in some fairly startling heaviness the band’s adopted into their palette. Everything about Barnett’s set pointed to one thing: her name isn’t one that will be disappearing anytime soon.

Local band Army Girls‘ bluesy post-punk leanings were next to be featured and the duo lived up to the promise of their recordings. It was one of their first appearances in a while and if there was any rust, it didn’t show. Between seriously impressive displays of fretwork and control from guitarist/vocalist Carmen Elle and drummer Andy Smith, Elle would offer up some biting banter before launching into the next song. Nearly everyone in Sonic Boom couldn’t seem to take their eyes off of them; even Courtney Barnett was dancing in between the aisles and shouting between-song encouragement. She wasn’t alone. Army Girls’ set had an even, practiced feel to it that warranted both attention and investment. If this band ever decides to make a serious run, it’ll be one to keep both eyes on. That their set was the last official NXNE showcase to be taken in felt appropriate; it was another perfect example of the independent spirit that the festival built itself on- and of the city that hosted it. Here’s to NXNE XX- and here’s to looking forward to the 21st installment.

The photo galleries of both days can be accessed below.

NXNE: Day 4 (Photo Gallery)
NXNE: Day 5 (Photo Gallery)

NXNE Day 3: Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, Spoon (Photo Gallery)

hbb69

A quick recap: apologies for the delays, they were due to fairly extensive managing of the photographs being posted tonight. Each of these photo galleries will receive an accompanying review in the near future. This is the second part of Day 3, which will be combined with part 1 for the written portion- Perfect Pussy’s set from this show will be given a separate review for a myriad of reasons. Included in this gallery are Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, and “secret” (more on that later) headliners Spoon. Enjoy the photographs and expect the accompanying review to run sometime next week.

 

NXNE: Day 2 (Pictorial Review, Video)

nxne

After Day 1 of NXNE got the festival off to a strong start, Day 2 is when the madness kicked into high gear. From late afternoon to well past midnight, there were sets from Caddywhompus, Speedy Ortiz, PS I Love You, Pissed Jeans, The Pizza Underground (although it’s still unclear if that could actually be called a set), Shannon & the Clams, Odonis Odonis, The Yips, and Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs. These were spread out across four venues and, at the bottom of these writings, there’s visual documentation of all of them.

Day 2 started off at the gorgeous (and gorgeously lit) Mod Club Theatre, which boasted a stacked bill that was headlined by Pissed Jeans- who delivered what would be one of the most memorable single sets of the festival. Before that, there were several standout moments from each of the three bands preceding Pissed Jeans. Caddywhompus set the wheels in motion with their enticing combination of traditional math elements and post-punk. From their surprisingly sweet vocal melodies to the power drumming and guitar fireworks that drove the momentum of their set, it’s easy to see why people are starting to latch onto this band. Proving even more impressive was their use of noise-prone ambient transitions to seamlessly segue between many of their songs. Somewhere between their terrifyingly precise tempo shifts and their soaring choruses, they’ve carved out something even more impressive; a wide-open future.

Site favorites Speedy Ortiz were next to take the stage and delivered a set laced with great moments from Major Arcana as well as a song they’re currently prepping to release as a single for an Adult Swim series that’s entitled “Bigger Party”, which is the band at their most definitive. Grass is Green‘s Devin McKnight has taken up the space recently vacated by guitarist Matt Robidux and managed to come off as an integral (and more importantly, incredibly dynamic) part of the band. By the end of Speedy Ortiz’s set, they’d made the most of their penchant for irreverence by keeping the between-song moments lively with genuinely funny banter and a great rapport. There were no lulls or dull moments; the evening had hit its stride early with what would ultimately become one of the night’s most engaging sets.

Canadian favorites PS I Love You were the next ones up and have the benefit of a great new album on deck that they seemed eager to tease. Immediately apparent was their fondness for blistering volumes, which in lesser hands may have distracted from their musicality- not here. Add in a generous layer of fuzz and the jaw-dropping guitar heroics of Paul Saulnier (who also controlled blasts of bass-driven organ chords through wired presets on a pedalboard- and had sweat dripping off his fingers less than three songs into their set) and it wound up being a fairly staggering showcase for both Saulnier and the relentless drumming of Benjamin Nelson. While their set did drop its momentum after the ecstatic highs brought on by a genuinely impassioned performance of “Facelove“, things were restored by the very end of their set thanks to the strength of the songs on their outstanding upcoming full-length, For Those Who Stay.

After PS I Love You called it night, one thing suddenly became very clear: everything was about to become all about sludge-indebted hardcore titans Pissed Jeans. They didn’t disappoint. All but storming the stage, vocalist Matt Korvette started their set by immediately declaring that the band had a very important announcement to make: “We are no longer Pissed Jeans. We are now Virgin Mobile Pissed Jeans”- a possible dig at the festival’s increased incorporation of corporate sponsorship. Following that subtly-tinged bit of possible vitriol, their levels all quickly rocketed to seething. With Korvette absolutely owning the Mod Club Theatre stage (both Nick Cave and Iggy Pop frequently came to mind- and that’s saying quite a bit), his band exploded around him and consistently matched his energy level. Between songs, he would faux-berate the audience for not trying hard enough or for not being more into the performance- and at one point he even paused to conduct a music lecture on guitar composition (extended fives, sweeping fours, and triple sevens were all covered).

Never letting the energy levels drop even a fraction, Pissed Jeans annihilated just about every expectation and ended with what’s undoubtedly one of the strangest encores to ever be performed at NXNE. Here’s what happened: after a small but meaningful attempt from the audience to get the band back on stage for one more song, Korvette reappeared and took the reigns on bass and began playing a tribal-sounding bassline over and over, occasionally walking from the stage to the wings before disappearing completely (while still playing the bass). At one point, the guitarist became the drummer for a strange misdirect- and didn’t play a single note before getting off the throne and exiting the stage. Finally, after Korvette hadn’t appeared for about two minutes, he suddenly slid the bass out quite a ways onto the stage floor from his spot in the wings and the show was officially over. All of it caused one audience member to scream out “What did that even mean?!” which was shortly followed by his still-very-confused “…like, technically?!”. If only anyone knew.

Going from what was arguably the festival’s highlight to Lee’s Palace for what was inarguably the most uncomfortable set (courtesy of The Pizza Underground) was a little jarring. As mentioned up above, it’s difficult to know whether or not this could even be called a set-  it was more of a comedy variety hour. At any rate, Maculay Culkin’s Velvet Underground-aping Pizza project had a hard time finding or developing any sort of noticeable rhythm and it kept tripping over itself to bring in new ideas or guests- among them: Plop Dylan (Bob Dylan songs with the lyrics altered so that they were about feces), a karaoke section from #PUSSYJOEL (Billy Joel songs about cats- the only thing the internet loves more than pizza), and a bizarre Tony Danza-impersonating stand-up comedian. The most clever of these wound up being the least tactful; Kurt Cobain’d- a man dressed up as Kurt Cobain (who was arguably the best musician to be featured throughout their set) doing Nirvana songs where all of the present tense verbs were switched to the past tense. By the end of their set, they were barely doing any of their original (a term used very loosely, all things considered) material. At least they bought Pizza for everyone.

An additional benefit of The Pizza Underground’s set? Culkin’s celebrity draw prompted one of the biggest non-Yonge Dundas Square turnouts and several of them stuck around- and were subsequently blown away- by an incendiary set from Shannon & the Clams. The band had previously caused a lot of people to fall pretty hard for them with an extraordinary track record of releases through Burger Records and Hardly Art. Live, the band more than lived up to the promise of their studio releases and quickly filled the spots in Lee’s Palace that had been abandoned after The Pizza Underground left a bad taste in much of the audience’s respective mouths. Not too long into their set, the entire standing section was full of people grinning widely and dancing their hearts out to Shannon & the Clams’ throwback rock n’ soul basement pop. All things considered, that lasting image was one of the best takeaway moments of NXNE.

After Shannon & the Clams had left everyone smiling, the plan was to go to Smiling Buddha to settle in for The Yips and Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs- fortunately, after running into Speedy Ortiz- we were redirected to Odonis Odonis’ set at The Garrison. Arriving mid-set meant the audience was already packed. The members of Speedy Ortiz, looking a touch exhausted, snagged a spot at the adjacent bar and advised us to go in to catch the band. Already being anxious to catch Odonis Odonis (who appeared on Heartbreaking Bravery’s First Quarter Finish mixtape), caused no hesitation in a move for the venue doors. Only a few songs were caught but it didn’t take long for Odonis Odonis to establish their connection to METZ: both bands have the same intense careening-all-over-the-place stage presence and love of ear-shattering volume levels. Their spastic synth-driven noise-punk freakouts managed to re-establish a new energy precedent for the evening and wound up being the best surprise set of the festival.

The Garrison was then left behind for the second consecutive night at Smiling Buddha (which would be visited again on nights 4 and 5) for late shows from The Yips and Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs. Both bands made the best use of a very small stage that they didn’t quite seem to fit on. All five members of The Yips kept grinning and bouncing off each other as if they were having the time of their lives- a trend that was continued by the six member lineup of Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs. Where The Yips played surf-friendly basement pop that hinted at some art-friendly trappings, Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs went the full blue-collar basement punk route. Both bands drew huge reactions from the crowd and there was more than one instance of crowd surfing. The Yips had people dancing. Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs incited mass crowd sing-a-longs. There was clear-cut camaraderie between the bands and their audience in a small-scale environment- which is what all of the best festivals strive to achieve. It was a genuinely incredible end to an extraordinary day of sets and sent expectation skyrocketing for Day 3.

Watch videos from Caddywhompus, Pissed Jeans, Shannon & the Clams, The Yips, and Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs below (apologies for the slightly blown-out audio)- beneath those, the photo gallery containing each band mentioned n the review. Enjoy.

Caddywhompus

Pissed Jeans

Shannon & the Clams

The Yips

Sam Coffey & the Iron Lungs

NXNE: Day 1 (Pictorial Review, Video)

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.