In The Flesh...NXNE - Saturday Night Edition + Toronto Island Festival

>> Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A shirtless punk god. THE lo-fi rock legends. A-list indie bands. A bearded, balding, and big-bellied frontman, also sans a shirt.

This past Saturday was a glorious, indulgent and unforgettable day of live music.

First up, a ferry trip over to Toronto Island for the annual namesake festival headlined by the immortal and seminal Pavement. Also appearing Broken Social Scene, arguably Toronto's biggest (literally and figuratively) indie exports ever; the increasingly popular dream-pop pair Beach House (plus an additional touring member); and jangly, folksy roots-rockers Band of Horses.

Beach House surprised. I've previously declared, rather emphatically to anyone who'll listen, that Beach House's Teen Dream is my favourite record of 2010 so far, but I was admittedly uncertain whether their breezy, hypnotic sounds would translate to a festival-sized crowd. Much to my delight, they were entertaining and had undeniable stage presence, leaving more than a few wanting a couple more tunes.

But, as with the NXNE festival, the Toronto Island festival ran like clockwork, so the stage was stripped and reloaded for Band of Horses. I've sorta lost track of Band of Horses after their stunning breakthrough, Everything All The Time. From what I heard throughout their set, they haven't missed a beat, evolving their earthy sound to a more confident, produced, pop-inflected one.

The last time Broken Social Scene played Winnipeg was at the now-extinct Le Rendevous. That show really turned me off the band for quite some time. Their performance was listless and Kevin Drew seemed indifferent to the crowd and was, at times, mopey (he was still upset about the band's last gig in the city where an irreplaceable pedal was stolen by a thoughtless ass). Anyway, I jumped at the opportunity to see this talented collection play on home soil in front of fans who've been supporting the band from their inception. People who don't pilfer pedals, I suspect. Materializing at 6:45 sharp Broken Social Scene exceeded expectations and brought EVERYONE along for the wild, wild ride - Feist, Emily Haines, Sebastien Grangier, Lisa Lobsinger, a pair of violinists, two drummers (one from Sea & the Cake), a sprightly horn section and a few backup singers. Total body count on stage in the bottom photo: 19. Might be 20. Best hour-and-a-half of music I've witnessed since, well, maybe Sigur Ros in Minneapolis.

Kevin Drew noted this about Pavement, "Without them, Broken Social Scene wouldn't be there". Still, I wondered how Pavement would fare following-up to Broken Social Scene's sure-to-be-talked-and-twittered-about-for-awhile set. Should've known better to doubt. There's a veritable reason Pavement are the godfathers of that fractured lo-fi indie-rock aesthetic and the half-hour or so I saw was incredible.

Pavement fans are probably wondering "TF did you only stay for a half hour, mate?" The music nut in me just had to see Iggy & The Stooges who were playing a free show at Young-Dundas square at the same time. Didn't matter who was playing Toronto Island, this pull was irrepressible. Y-D square was utter madness. 20, 000 people, maybe? In the top photo you can actually, sorta, maybe see Iggy Pop (still shirtless @ 62!). The pic required the full utilization of my 12X zoom, the crowd being the largest mass of people I've ever been a part of, concert or otherwise. The grandfather of punk rock's endless energy was enviable, shaking to the core any preconceptions about sexagenarians slowing down.

After a quick refuel (veggie burger, pitcher of local beer, much needed sit), it was off to Wrongbar for a different sorta shirtless icon: Tim Harrington (aka Beardo), fearless leader of Les Savy Fav. The lineup outside the joint was monstrous and the room neared capacity. Fortunately, priority pass holders (which we had) were whisked inside, which, upon reflection, may have been an act of divine intervention. Words and pictures cannot describe the Les Savy Fav live experience. Tim Harrington is just about the craziest effing singer in the indie biz today. Whether wrapping himself with toilet paper King Tut-style, chugging beers then clinking them together in rhythm, licking a seriously enthralled fan's nipple, or pulling mirrors off the wall, the mobile leader of Les Savy Fan offers an unpredictable live show set to equally rambunctious bursts of music.

Still raving about it three nights later. 


Rieds 22 June 2010 at 21:35  

What's Tim Harrington doing in that first photo?

Mykael 22 June 2010 at 23:00  

Well, Sir, I believe he is putting the camera down his pants.

Rieds 23 June 2010 at 14:41  

Nice. Very nice. Very... very.... nice.

willlllllll,  23 June 2010 at 16:46  

i'd back that call to leave pavement early to see iggy.

Sarah,  24 June 2010 at 23:33  

I am sooo jealous you saw Beach House. I'm in love with "Teen Dream" too!

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