Jeff’s NXNE2014 – Night #1

First we misfired: we went to catch the end of a show featuring 5 ukuleles players at Rancho Relaxo, but mistakenly went to El Rancho and just missed it. Turns out the band didn’t even have 5 uke players.

We then headed to Wrong Bar to see the Chicago band Your Golden Mask playing before Kiesza, the sweet, talented sexy red-haired phenom whose dance moves in Hideaway are just the coolest. Wrong bar was actually the wrong bar—the venue had switched to Mod Club. We went there and Your Golden Mask was there but Kiesza apparently called in sick. Fuck! Pro tip: she apparently called in sick the previous night. Do not put 100% trust in the NXNE program.

The Mod Club was as empty as Your Golden Mask was excellent. Shame, they deserved a full, rowdy crowd. The guitarist played synths that sounded like keys, the drummer played stripped down beats on electric pads and the female singer was sultry, sexy, in time, on point. She had a single drum she’d occasionally pound on with a drum stick or a tambourine. They had a huge sound for three people, and it was ridiculous that the venue was so empty for them. Me and my buddy, fellow PP writer Jordan Shefsky, went close to the stage and felt like we were at a concert for thousands of people. They play their final NXNE show tonight, Thursday, 11pm at the Drake.

On to Tattoo, curious to see the 1am secret show. But first a group before called Autre Ne Veut. I spoke to a writer from Spin who told me he thought they were wonderful, and that they had a serious following in the audience. To my eyes people were excited. I wondered, what’s wrong with these people? It was a trio—a drummer, a woman on the computer who I guess was playing pre-recorded beats, and a male singer. Now, the beats were cool, it was a full sound and I get how people danced, but the dude was so out of control he deserves his own paragraph.

He was an egomaniac soaking up the attention, which somehow he was given. He was so histrionically enraptured that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t parody. He literally moved in slow motion sometimes, fanning himself and luxuriating in the shouts from the audience. The incongruity between his onstage drama and his talent was immense. That people so fanatically adored this singer, who wasn’t even good at singing, felt like North Koreans under the spell of Dear Leader. I was not in sync with this vibe. He was trying to be more sensual than reality should have allowed for. I felt like an atheist at a Baptist revival, disbelieving not only what they profess to believe, but that they actually believe it.

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(Pic via Lights & Music)

Still, it was fun even if the people were marginally insane. Maybe I’m just missing the point of this group. Like I said, singer aside Autre Ne Veut was cool. I hope they don’t read this. Maybe they had an off night.

Sleigh Bells was the secret show up next. Pro tip: it’s called a secret show in the program but actually it’s announced the night before. They had serious gravitas. You could tell they were seasoned vets. The woman yelled in appealing ways, the band was powerful, loud, and really quite good. Just maybe not exactly my scene. I could tell they were prepared and on point, but I felt bad I was there. A larger fan should have been in my place. I’m glad I saw them, and I appreciate it was a cool and rare opportunity to see a big band in a small place, but people really love this group and it felt a bit wasted on me. We didn’t even stay for the entire set. Respect, but I wasn’t in love.
My Golden Mask was the highlight, and it’s a real shame they played for so few people. They deserved Autre Ne Veut’s crowd.

Night #2->

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]