Every night during NXNE, our music writers hit the town, taking in as much as they can. The next day, their NXNE Crawl diaries report the good, not-so-good, and out-and-out weird at this year's fest.
Compared to SXSW, there is a lack of outdoor shows at NXNE, which is maybe for the best given our unpredictable weather. Thankfully the skies were clear as I found a spot on the grass near the gazebo at St. James Cathedral. Unlike park shows at SXSW, there wasn't a bar at this one, so it felt a lot more polite and Canadian. I quickly learned that Brooklyn-via-Texas folk-rock band Brazos are actually way more electronic than they seemed the night before at Sneaky Dee's (it helps if you can hear their laptop).
The spooky sounds of Toronto noise-folk duo Dusted suited the acoustics of the outdoor stage, but unfortunately the NXNE-provided guitar amps were misbehaving, and singer/guitarist Brian Borcherdt was suffering from a cold. They still managed to set a lovely mood, however.
Got to the Horseshoe just in time to see a reformed Catl setting up. The minimalist blues-punk band had gone on hiatus in the winter, but have reconfigured their lineup in the meantime, moving Sarah Kirkpatrick from organ to drums, which she plays standing up. Guitarist Jamie Fleming is now playing standing up too, and the change of posture seems to infuse their unhinged roots rock with a new level of fury.
Caught Mexican surf band Los Oxidados at Cherry Cola's, who wore some cool Lone Ranger masks and sounded like a slightly funkier version of every instrumental surf band you've ever heard. Fun, but had to run over to Sidedoor to catch Chad Valley. I was surprised to find he was using a fairly DIY setup of guitar pedals and a sampler for his revisionist take on 90s R&B and pop. His enthusiasm is contagious, but I wish he had less trouble hitting his notes consistently.
UNFORGETTABLE: Audience member pulling a roll of toilet paper from her bag to give to Brian Borcherdt for his runny nose.