Diary of a First Time NXNE’r – Part 2

NXNE was, overall, a drunken mess. So, writing about it more than a week after and not post-show at 5am while drunk, which I’ve done, is at least just as useful. Even though I’m sober now, it’s late at night, this piece is quite overdue, and I have a paid piece I should be working on instead. Not to mention reading and other writing. I don’t know whether it’s more amateur to write drunk or to be this reckless sober, so I did them both.

Friday began with The National. My friend was so keen on it that I couldn’t tell her until after how bored I was. Before I criticize the headliner, I will say in their defence that Yonge and Dundas Square is the city’s most unflattering venue. It’s a free venue, and usually you get what you pay for. Even De La Soul and Derek Trucks, who I saw there years ago, weren’t terrific. And they are terrific.

The National seemed very competent at their instruments, but this is like praising a writer for being proficient in grammar and spelling. Maybe I didn’t need their mellowness, and it’d be better I’m sure if I knew their music in the first place. Saving the day was contraband whiskey and the screen displaying the Jays game behind the stage. The band joked about the baseball game actually. That concert had 15,000 people, which is a scene I didn’t come to associate with NXNE, but of course this was the NXNE headliner. Still, this show was nothing like the rest of my experiences at the festival. I wondered if there was something to this band or if it was mass hypnosis.

After some supplemental supplements we decided to wander and came across the trippiest thing in the city: TWRP! The band name is an acronym for Tupper Wear Revival Party. They wear highlighter-coloured spandex, wild wigs, and Tupper wear on their bodies, either affixed to their costumes or as hats. I’d watch them on mute enthralled, but they are excellent musicians. They might really be the highlight of my festival, or are shockingly up there considering they didn’t even get a stage to play on. Unlike the National: they came with no hype; not only didn’t we wait an hour for their set to begin, but they literally started their set two seconds after we arrived, as if they waited for us, and their first song was “Take On Me,” which for no reason at all had been in my head for honestly the previous week; the music was fun and upbeat.

TWRP

(Via Lick My Lens Cap)

I figured we’d cross the street to Sneaky’s and it was a fantastic decision. We caught the end of a Quebec band Google tells me now is called the Luyas. I prefer to call them Crucial Todd because they have an unreal mega-babe for a lead singer (are Wayne’s World references too passé? If so, fuck you). All I remember about Crucial Todd is thinking they were tight, creative, inspired musicians. It is indeed huge praise! The thought crossed my mind, “perhaps not all good musicians are dead.” The band outside was terrific, but goofy and fun. CT could all play their asses off in an original style, unlike anything I had heard before. I can’t quite link them to another group or sound, but I really loved it.

Next we decided to go to Taste of Little Italy. We walked for a few blocks before realising mostly everything was closed. Still, we ate incredible grilled cheese, a street churro with a hot chocolate injection, then headed to the Garrison. We were walking along Dundas then headed south in the park a few blocks only to remember that the Garrison is on Dundas where we just were, so we came back north.

Shortly before I shambled over there my buddy who we were to meet had been found in a decrepit, debilitated state in the washroom, elaboration unnecessary. So he left before I saw him, and we got there after the last band. The grilled cheese and the churro and the wayward park chill took a long time and, incredibly, on a night when we had free access to tons of shows, we basically forgot to go to them. I don’t regret one thing in the least. Except for maybe seeing The National.

About Jeff Halperin

Jeff Halperin was a city hall reporter at the Toronto Standard, but his writing has also appeared at Maclean's, the Grid and elsewhere. He also writes on literature, Leafs, music, chess and more. Jeff's website is [here] For other PP posts by Jeff click [here]