Guelph art-rockers The D'Urbervilles packed Le Divan Orange Saturday at their afternoon showcase.
It's OK though, he was just being modest. The fun had actually started mid-afternoon, when it was still very light outside. Just 40 minutes prior, the D'Urbs hushed the large afternoon audience with finger snaps that led to an extended intro to their crowd-pleasing opener Spin The Bottle. My watch read 5:03 pm. Is this too early to rock out? Hell no. The D'Urbervilles--who also played a packed prime-time showcase Thursday night--proved that by turning in a tight, energetic set that left me extra-pumped for a night full of club hopping.
For example, this past summer, North By Northeast ambitiously used daytime shows as part of a strategy to expand the brand of the
festival outside of the downtown core by booking bands at places like Pearson International Airport, Toronto Island, and at parks at Yonge and Eglinton, and in the Beaches. The idea was to create the feeling of the festival encompassing the whole city--not just Queen, College, and Bloor streets.
While the success of that endeavor as a whole can be debated, Pop Montreal uses afternoon shows in a different, and I think, more utilitarian way.
Pop's method solves two problems many festival-goers often grapple with: How to choose between two great bands playing the same time slot, and what to do if a buzz-band's small venue showcase quickly hits capacity.
Scheduling additional afternoon gigs for in-demand bands in downtown clubs already participating in the festival gives show-hoppers a
second chance to see a band that had a conflicting or sold-out showcase. The result makes it difficult for dedicated festival goers NOT to catch every band they really want to see. Sure, seeing indie bands in record stores and parks, (but probably not airports) is cool, but booking afternoon gigs at clubs already in the festival makes these shows easy and convenient to get to, and ensures that the sound
system and stage is of a decent quality (as was very much the case for The D'Urbervilles' excellent gig at Le Divan Orange).
It's great to see NXNE taking chances by programming weird shows, but next year they should try having break-out acts play supplementary mid-afternoon showcases at intimate-but-established venues like The Supermarket, Sneaky Dee's and Mod Club.
After all, festivals are for fans, and upping the accessibility of top-shelf acts is always a good thing.