NXNE: Punk, Hard Rock & Indie Tip Sheet

Try not to look at NXNE as "the place to discover the hottest new music like Billy Talent and Alexisonfire". I think you'll be disappointed. Instead, think of NXNE as a JOURNEY through diverse pathways of sound. Think of it as a bargain weekend since your $28 wristband will get you access to 400 bands and 33 clubs, not to mention indie movies and a schmooze-fest or two. Perhaps my friend said it best, "It's just an excuse for industry folk to get together, get drunk and talk about music." And there's nothing wrong with that.

The enormous list of bands can be pretty intimidating, I know! So here's a quick guide for people who are lazy, too poor to pay for Television tickets and too cool to listen to Boys Night Out.

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A Punk Rocker's Fix.
Gabba Gabba HEY! So you realize there are more Dave Matthews Band and Metric impersonators this year than you can shake a stick at. What to do, what to do? Never fear, there are some essentials for the mohawked, pierced and disillusioned.

The Salads: Thursday, June 8 @ Lee's Palace, 12AM
"Todaaaay is your lucky day!" Over the last ten years, The Salads have become a Toronto ska/punk staple, creating a reputation for "bringing the party". Last summer they rocked alongside Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger, making people want to jump up and down just the same. You can't help but smile as personable frontman Darren smiles and incites the crowd. Their widely appealing songs will make your grandma dance, yet are rockin enough to appease the edgiest punks.

The Video Dead: Friday, June 9 @ The Bovine, 9PM.

Whether you're into Death By Stereo, Madball, Comeback Kid, Rise Against or The Unseen, these anthems will sucker-punch, drop-kick, dust off and ultimately inspire you. In a world full of "cookie cutter punks" and "all that poppy junk", The Video Dead are a refreshing reminder that punk is not dead yet. The first time I saw them play at The Bovine, they instantly became one of my favorite bands, sucking me into their energy vortex. This is one raucous shout-along you won't want to miss!

The Creepshow: Saturday, June 10 @ The Bovine, 2AM

No one was really sure when it happened, but suddenly The Creepshow was touring across Canada at packed shows and selling $2000 in merch every night. If you're in the mood for a nasty brew of ghoulie grooves (with horror show lyrics like The Misfits), mixed with some rockabilly (Nekromantix southern twang) and twisted Gwen Stefani vocals... make sure you check out this rare amalgamation. It's so avant-garde it could almost be on the Kill Bill soundtrack. In addition, the Bovine Sex Club will be one of the only places still legitimately selling booze up until 4am!

The Matadors: Saturday, June 10 @ The Bovine, 3AM

If you think Halloween should be celebrated more than once a year, the upright bass isn't used enough in rock n roll and selling your soul to the devil is an intriguing concept, then you won't want to miss The Matadors! With funny songs called "Teenage Zombie Sluts" and "Bush Party Hand Job", you have to assume that beneath this danceable 1950s style music, there's some meaningful social commentary. Even if psychobilly isn't your thing, it's amazing to see how all these polar opposites come together.

Hostage Life: Thursday, June 8 @ The Bovine, 10PM

They've rocked St Catharine's SCENE Fest and Nova Scotia's Flip The Switch Fest but now you can catch these punks back home in Toronto. Some songs echor traces of Sum 41 and Good Charlotte, but I think of Hostage Life as more in the vein of No Use For A Name, NOFX or Propagandi. They throw in beefier riffs that beg to be the soundtrack to your summer. It's feel-good music... inspirational, entertaining.

Hell Yeah Fuck Yeah: Thursday June 8 @ The Bovine, 3AM

You know, honestly, there's little to find of these mysterious characters online. Hell Yeah Fuck Yeah is one of those obscure bands with a secret fan club that you can't find song previews for, which always leaves you feeling like you're one step behind. "They had lines going all the way around the block at The Bovine," one rumor circulated. "If you ever get a chance to go see them, they're insane," another person mentioned. They've been associated with heavyweights Damn 13, The Cancer Bats and The Almighty Trigger Happy, so my curiosity is piqued.

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A Hard Rockers Fix.
Didn't get enough guttural screaming or quick metal licks with your breakfast this morning? While metal, post-hardcore and hard rock aren't really specialties here, there are still some hearty scraps for the hungry.

Latefallen: Thursday, June 8 @ The Bovine, 11PM
The first time I saw Latefallen, I knew they were going to be super famous. They had that post-hardcore appeal for the younger generation, fused with serious hit-writing ability: compelling melodies and dark layers of distorted guitars. Without a doubt one of my favorite Toronto bands, come see why people all across the country are getting Latefallen tattoos.

Reason Disappears: Saturday, June 10 @ Lees Palace, 11PM

When I listen to the new Incubus, I feel kinda bummed out and I wonder, "Where's the jitteriness of SCIENCE, the fusion of techno with heavy, angry rock that made them so popular?" As bands ultimately sell out, fresh bands spring up out of the ashes that satisfy our craving for new songs with classic sounds. Reason Disappears has a bit of the old Incubus and some of the new Default atmosphere.

Obsidian: Saturday, June 10 @ Clinton's, 12AM
If you like the new Billy Talent song "Devil In a Midnight Mass", you will love Obsidian. With influences ranging from The Mars Volta to Refused and The Used, you know you're in for an interesting ride. The guitars move fast, the vocals are lucid and if you listen carefully, you just might catch some machinegun double bass pedal. Obsidian has taken the Finger Eleven formula and pushed it one step further to incorporate heavier metal-influenced tweaks, while still keeping it 102.1-friendly.

Two Knives: Sunday, June 11 @ Neutral, 11PM

If you're into Hatebreed or Madball, Two Knives would satiate your appetite for loud, gritty thrash metal. It's going to be loud and it's not for pansies, so be forewarned.

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An Indie Rock Fix:
There are SO many bands to choose from here - from Dave Matthews type stuff to a Jack Johnston / Deathcab For Cutie vibe. After previewing dozens of bands, I've found this genre CAN be relaxing, quiet and emotional WITHOUT turning into a dull drone lullaby or excuse to go out and have a cigarette. Here's why...


Neverending White Lights: Thursday, June 8 @ The Rivoli, 9PM

One time I was at an after-party where a bunch of different bands got loaded and dragged out their equipment to swap band members and jam, essentially creating "superbands". It was a fun experiment and made for amusing entertainment. This is what Ontario recording artist Daniel Victor thought when he decided to start writing the skeleton of expression, while leaving room for guest vocalists from Our Lady Peace, The Black Maria, Alexisonfire, Mogwai, 311, Supergarage, Finger Eleven and more. The end result is an amazing effort expressing the softer side of some really rockin' bands.

Arctic: Thursday, June 8 @ Clinton's, 10PM
Atmospheric and dopamine-laced, Arctic will probably fill the Radiohead void for those of you who couldn't get tickets in the 30 seconds they were on sale. The somberness of Marcus Martin and the textured fullness of guitar sounds make for an enjoyable listen. It's also interesting to find a songwriter who uses music as an indirect lure, then subtly brings up environmental issues - not in the songs - but on the band website.


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