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.
If NXNE took place in Dublin, Villagers would have drawn queues all down Wexford Street.
But here, their profile is just modest enough for O'Brien to fit in an early solo acoustic set at Sidedoor, a small room within Soho House, before their full-band showcase later at the Great Hall. The close quarters suited O'Brien, whose vibrato-laden voice and rich, literary story songs, which powerfully elevate the beauty in mundane situations, engrossed the whole room into stunned silence.
Attempting to find something to keep me busy until the shit-hot punk showcase at the Horseshoe later that night, I wandered past the loud and flashy MMVA rehearsals on Queen Street and fortuitously into the Cameron House's outdoor bash. Devin Cuddy's jaunty blues-rock combined with the outdoor summer setting evoked the fuzzy feeling of the beer tent at the CNE. It also attracted more than a few random passersby, including one older gentleman who stopped on Cameron Street to jam along on his guitar.
It was a much-needed recharge before traversing the line at the Horseshoe for a short and sweet White Lung set. Danish teen punks Iceage played next, and their intense negative energy and tuneless howl were so unsettling they required a palette cleanser. So I jumped on the streetcar and traversed another line at Blk Box, as Ryan Hemsworth transformed a room full of festival-goers into a sweaty, smelly mess with the power of Drake remixes.
My feet were barely working and my voice was completely hoarse by the time I got to the Garrison to catch Greys, but I fit right in in a room full of diehards who stuck it out until 3 am. There was no better band to give us all our second, third, fourth and fifth winds. The Toronto four-piece played a tight, pummelling set of fiery Fugazi-influenced post-hardcore that not only woke the crowd up, but sent them into a spirited mosh. It also probably deafened at least one fan, who somehow thought it would be a good idea to lie onstage with his head against an amp.
UNFORGETTABLE: OH in the Horseshoe's front room: "Is there, like, a festival here or something?" OH upon exiting the oppressively hot Ryan Hemsworth party: "That was...too much for me."