NXNE 2015 Day 2

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Iceage-nxne-2015-002
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Who: Odonis Odonis, A Place To Bury Strangers, Iceage, A Primitive Evolution
Where: The Opera House, Bovine Sex Club
When: Thursday, June 18th, 2015

A sudden change of plans got me to trade a local showcase for a bigger show on Thursday. On one hand, I was a little upset, because I enjoy discovering the up-and-coming local bands. On the other hand, the opening band at the Opera House was still local and they were on my editor’s pick list.

The Opera House was pretty dead when I got there, and the band – Odonis Odonis – started playing already. They had a dark and intense set, that made me forget it was still light outside and transported me back to my dark rave days. Heavy synth and distorted vocals attracted some of the Toronto Goths, however there were also hipsters and general rockers in the audience, undoubtedly waiting for A Place to Bury Strangers and Iceage. While some of them were loading up on beer during the opening set, there were those intrigued by Odonis Odonis. So, most of the crowd was close to the stage. The diverse audience also make sense, because Odonis Odonis sound more mellow and shoegaze on record. Their live show is akin to the shows of German or Eastern European industrial bands. The venue filled up considerably during Odonis Odonis set, and some started dancing. The crowd was nice and warmed up and hungry for more.

During the intermission, I had a chance to talk to one of the workers at The Opera House. They said that the previous night with Blonde Redhead didn’t gather a big crowd. Liturgy and OM were predicted to get more metalheads in the audience on Friday (I wonder if they did, and if the attendance was a bit better overall). The Opera House was banking on Saturday for their big NXNE night, but Pentagram had to pull out of the show. On Thursday, there were only about 250 people inside so far.

A Place To Bury Strangers nxne 2015
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I didn’t know what to expect of A Place To Bury Strangers live, and I was not disappointed. Moreover, I was breathless. If my Friday saw an incredible amount of energy shared with the crowd until everyone felt intimately connected, my Thursday saw the same amount of energy separating every single person in the audience and burrowing into the deepest darkest corners of their psyche. Intense, aggressive, chaotic, A Place To Bury Strangers is what all the noise bands aim to be live. Half the time the light was so low you could barely see the figures on stage. Half the time you had two white strobe lights flashing at you every second. Both settings fit perfectly with the abstract, raw music, and incoherent vocals. The bassist, Dion Lunadon, is an animal on stage, forcing sounds out of his bass, punishing it for any limitations by throwing it onto the floor. When the chaos reached its peak, the guitarist and the drummer left the stage through the crowd, with Lunadon carrying on for another 5 minutes, before he followed suit. It was one of the only shows where I was glad that the venue wasn’t packed, as I made my way to the frond of the sound booth to see what APTBS were up to. There, Oliver Ackermann (guitar, vocals) and Robi Gonzalez (drums) were working sets on pedals and loops; Lunadon joining them on another beaten up bass guitar. The venue got completely dark except for tiny blue lights wrapped around the construction. There was little you could do but just let the waves of sound take you over. And suddenly it was done, instruments abandoned, the lights turned on to scare the magic away and show everyone what ugly machines were responsible for such madness.

I could have left The Opera House shortly after, because what came next was completely underwhelming. Iceage are gaining a lot of traction on North America right now, mainly because Pitchfork are singing them praises left and right. However, what I saw was a band of junkies, who are going to burn out in a year or two, with beat up song progressions and a lazy vocalist. The Libertines right before their collapse come to mind, but The Libertines had a distinct sound to begin with. I was bored by the forth song, so I went to talk to the staff some more. It wasn’t long before people started walking out on the band. There were of course, loyal fans right by the stage, screaming and jumping, but it felt like they were a minority.

I made my way downtown next, with a clear destination in mind – The Bovine. Mostly, I wanted to support A Primitive Evolution, but I also wanted to see if the bar had any surprises for me this time. It turned out that the line-up was all out of wack, because a band or two pulled out last minute and all the time slots had to be rearranged. Luckily for APE, they got to start later (they were initially supposed to go on at 1am; the went on at 1.30am) and play a longer set. The Bovine wasn’t crowded but some of the regulars and fans of the band were there. However, as much as I wanted to enjoy APE, I couldn’t because there was not one, but two photographers using fucking flash. One of the photographers turned out to be a friend of the band and was not in any was affiliated with NXNE, so she didn’t know about the guidelines. (Although, photo etiquette is an existing thing, too). The other one had the NXNE media pass and I’m still not sure if I should’ve told other fellow photographers or any of the staff to look out for him. All in all, I was distracted the whole time, but people around me didn’t seem to mind.

Overall, it was a great night, although The Opera House show was enough of an experience.

APE-nxne-2015-007
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Written by: Raya P Morrison
Photos by: Raya P Morrison

Originally written for The Scene Magazine http://www.thescenemagazine.ca

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