The oOohh Baby Gimme Mores do the limbo
Toronto dance-punks the oOohh Baby Gimme Mores know the importance of audience participation. Throughout their early set at the Horseshoe on the first big night of music at NXNE, they threw merch to their fans, walked through the crowd clanging a cowbell and, best of all, started a limbo contest that ensured everybody watching would remember them. Singer/guitarist Densil McFarlane kicked it off by climbing down from the stage and slipping lithely under an outstretched cord, and then encouraged audience members to do the same, which they did. The four-piece's enthusiastic efforts and high-energy tunes were rewarded at the end, when it was announced that they'd been chosen to play in the Jay Z-founded Made In America festival in Philly.
Sleigh Bells incite a mosh pit
Brooklyn noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells are headlining Yonge-Dundas Square tonight, but last night, during a somewhat-surprise 1 am show at Tattoo, frontwoman Alexis Krauss made it abundantly clear that there was no place she'd rather be than the intimate confines of a club gig. Getting up-close-and-personal with her fans up-front, Krauss explained that those conditions were much more conducive to connecting with an audience. Connect she did: inspired by her and bandmate Derek Edward Miller's shredding, a sizeable mosh pit roiled on for much of the Bells set: pushing, shoving, sweating, head-banging, but always stopping immediately to swiftly pick up fallen soldiers. A decidedly "party on!" way to kick off NXNE.
Dirty Frigs get grimy at Smiling Buddha
I knew I was going to like Bri Salmena the moment she stepped onstage, decked out in black clunky four-inch platforms that were just like what all the cool, older girls wore when I was in junior high. Then she opened her mouth, and a raspy growl came roaring out, and I was in love. Dirty Frigs is a local four-piece, but a new NXNE discovery for me. (Isn't that was this fest is all about?) Salmena's smoky vocals (which, when screamed, are like a grungier version of early Karen O) are paired with heavy melodies and the odd foray into 60s psych. It's catchy, sludgy and raw - the golden trifecta of garage rock. Luckily, for all those who missed their early set a Smiling Buddha, Dirty Frigs play the Rare Drugs BBQ on Saturday.
Jim-E Stack shows off his moves
Twenty-three-year-old San Francisco producer and DJ Jim-E Stack makes mature, mid-tempo music imbued with melancholic synths and ambient chimes. And in addition to conjuring his discordant sounds, Wednesday night provided an opportunity to display his skills as an artist with persuasive charisma. As he transitioned from song to song, he body-rolled with levity, control and supreme confidence. His movements were undeniably contagious - a glance around the Hoxton showed a diverse collection of baseball-cap-rocking bros, fashionable young women, and several guys with gold grills engaged in carefree single-person dance parties of their own.
How Marc Maron met Michael Keaton
"I don't really have a demographic," stand-up comic and WTF podcaster Marc Maron told an adoring audience yesterday afternoon at NXNEi. "I have a disposition." That food for thought came among a slew of other hints at how he transformed a dismal career into a show, recorded in his garage, with an average of 260,000 downloads per episode. But the real highlight was his story about how he got Michael Keaton for an interview. After Keaton recognized him at the Fort Lauderdale airport, Maron invited him to WTF. Keaton told him his email address (as in out loud, in the airport), which Maron managed to scribble down. A couple of months later, he followed up with "Old Batman." The next day, Keaton was in his garage, recording the episode.