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.
After a brief NXNE break to attend my best friend's wedding rehearsal in the burbs, I returned downtown to wet pavement and residual drizzle. The rain must have made a lot of wet clothes, because the upstairs of Sneaky Dee's was absolutely sour smelling - cigarettes, stale beer and wet dog. Luckily Sunclef + Peroff came onstage, and I was too busy feeling the bass rumble through my body to care anymore.
I was unfamiliar with their electronic bass music and therefore surprised at how inspired I was to dance to it, as if Biggie had come on at a bachelorette party. I was not the only one. A large man built like LL Cool J was flailing all over the place alternately yelling "New York!" and "Toronto!" making me assume that Sunclef + Peroff were some really cool hipster Brooklyn duo. Turns out, the very, very, familiar looking Peroff is actually BSS drummer Justin Peroff (duh, Julia) who traded his regular drums for an electric set. The other half is local producer Sunclef who twiddled knobs and worked the laptop. Their last song was more groovy R&B-ish than the banging hip-hop flavor of the beginning. I never buy merch, but I wish I had purchased a CD.
Local emcee DL Incognito was up next, taking the stage earlier than his 1 am time slot, perhaps as a courtesy to the crowd who had been there since 7. At one point he said he'd been drinking all night, which really surprised me as up until then I had been marveling at the sobriety that must be required to get all those rhymes out so intelligibly. But then, he and Techtwelve (on the 1s and 2s) are a well-oiled machine by now.
After a long debate over whether to stay for former Swollen Member Moka Only, my friends and I abandoned Sneaks to see The Soft Moon's "secret" show (it was only announced at 10 pm) at the Horseshoe. The place had obviously been packed for the NOW showcase: the outdoor patio was filled and the usual post-2 am drifters meandered in front.
I was disappointed that there weren't any cool projections or lighting, as the fourth member of the onstage three-piece Oakland post-punk dark-wavers is dedicated to visuals, but singer/guitarist/founder Luis Vasquez was entertaining enough on his own, jitter-dancing around the stage so enthusiastically I thought his guitar might cross swords with the mic stand. There's not much soft about this band except the cool way his vocals are treated which makes them sound muted and washed out. A break of sorts for your ears during a noisy festival.
We wound down the night at a private Now Magazine lounge event, where Jessica Pare and members of Sweden's Imperial State Electric were among the wee hour partiers. I ended up in a conversation with a 28-year-old publicist friend of mine about how 18-year-old Joey Bada$$ inspired him to get back into skateboarding. It all seemed very deep at 4:30 in the morning.
UNFORGETTABLE: Getting out of a cab at the Horseshoe to see Joey Bada$$ (or seriously, his doppelgänger) chopping it up with a fan in the street five feet from me. Of course he was the most difficult person to get on the phone prior to NXNE, and then bam, there he was.