Looking at WNY’s visual art, theater, music, and dance scenes.
Jun 20, 2012
09:08 AMTalk about Arts
Letter from Toronto 4: NXNE in a Nutshell
(Note: This is the fourth in a series of five reports from the NXNE Music/Film/Interactive Festival, the Luminato Festival, and other events in Toronto by Spree writer Ron Ehmke and photographer Don Kreger.)
North by Northeast (June 10-16) has its fair share of big-name acts, but the fun of the festival lies in taking a chance on a band, panel discussion, or film you’ve never heard of. Since band sets are seldom more than 30 minutes long, and a wide range of passes makes admission affordable, you’re not likely to regret any mistakes for long. While a busy daytime schedule kept us from taking in quite as much of NXNE at night as we did last year, we still managed to make a few discoveries. Here are some acts and films to check out while you await NXNE 2013.
Mac deMarco; photo by Don Kreger
Mac deMarco, a buzzed-about young singer-songwriter with a deep, moody voice and a debut album’s worth of catchy tunes, plays with gender roles with glee, projecting a pouty-lipped androgynous look in album art and videos while coming across as a much butch-er rock and roller onstage. Keep an eye out for him.
Porcelain Raft—the nom de pop of Italian Mauro Remiddi—followed up his recent appearance at the Ninth Ward in Buffalo with a packed house at the Drake eager to hear his variation on the ever-popular theme of the sensitive man in love.
Topless Gay Love Tekno Party is every bit as goofy as its tongue-in-cheek name would lead you to expect. Neither especially gay nor techno, and only marginally topless, this gang at least lives up to the “party” part, from their silver ensembles to the glitter on their faces and in the hair of audience members.
Young Magic is the kind of band you probably have to see to appreciate, because the majority of the duo’s appeal lies in the snakelike undulations of the members as they crank out loud experimental pop of the Animal Collective school.
The Black Belles had fans lined up outside the Horseshoe Tavern to see the all-female quartet (reduced to a trio for NXNE) of garage rockers endorsed by Jack White. With matching black locks, makeup, hats, and clothes, they certainly had visual appeal, which made up for the fact that their songs had a certain sameness.
Andre Williams; photo by Don Kreger
Andre Williams and the Sadies are essentially Toronto’s answer to the Goo Goo Dolls’ longstanding love affair with Lance Diamond. You know, that whole weathered-R&B-singer-hooks-up-with-much-younger-rockers thang. The 70something Williams is on a roll lately, and he had the even-younger crowd in soulman ecstasy.
Ceremony; photo by Don Kreger
Ceremony and the Flaming Lips were among the well-known acts playing the free stage at Yonge and Dundas on Saturday night. Always a mob scene, the Saturday lineup was heavy on theatricality, what with Of Montreal doing their thing and the Lips rolling out their now-familiar human hamster ball.
My Father and the Man in Black made for intriguing Father’s Day Weekend programming, telling the parallel stories of documentary director Jonathan Holiff and his dad Saul, and Saul and the man whose career he managed, Johnny Cash.
Jobriath AD has been getting justly deserved attention at other festivals for its look into the life and doomed career of Jobriath, the early 1970s sensation who was promoted as “the American David Bowie,” only to fade into obscurity. Seek it out if you can.
Slaughter Nick for President is a charming one-of-a-kind doc about actor Rob Stewart, who starred in a second-rate Baywatch ripoff called Tropical Heat back in the early 1990s before winding up living with his parents in suburban Brampton, Ontario. Unbeknownst to him, the series is huge in Serbia, playing a key role in that country’s popular uprising, and for two weeks in 2009 he finds himself touring the country holding press conferences and signing autographs as the nation’s biggest star. From obscurity to cult celebrity: Such is the way things go at NXNE.