NXNE Festival Toronto 2011 Report 2

NXNE-2011Why hello there… Welcome back to my ongoing dispatches from the NXNE festival here in Toronto, Ontario Canada. Day Two, was just as, if not just a touch more eventful than Day One, so let’s get right to it shall we?

It all kicked off at Yonge and Dundas square, a large public square in the middle of downtown Toronto that is home to a number of free shows throughout the festival, where mid-90’s CanCon alt-rockers Rusty played their first show together in over a decade.

rusty nxne 2011

For those not acquainted with the band, Rusty were a minor “big-deal” in the Canadian alternative music scene for a good 5 years. Their music was never genre-bending, or for that matter genre-defining, but for half a decade they effortlessly hitched their wagon to a rising (then falling) grunge-music star and made a decent name for themselves while they were at it.

Their sound was always a bit shambolic, un-polished but also filled with some solid punky hooks. Rusty broke up in the year 2000 and we’ve not heard one gravel-voiced peep from them in over a decade… until yesterday…

“Really takes you back, doesn’t it?..” rasped front man Ken Macneil after finishing the band’s early “hit” –Wake Me.

And take us back it sure did, well, those in the crowd old enough to remember Rusty were taken “back”; but, close to half-way through their greatest-“hits” retrospective set, I started to get the feeling that; just like some of the more awkward or embarrassing moments of our high-school lives, maybe some things are better left forgotten.

Musical reunions, especially those that come after a decade-plus long hiatus, can be tricky at best and a lot of questions naturally flow; does the band still have an audience? Will anyone still care? In fact, why are we all here in the first place? Are we really all here just because we want a soundtrack for a trip down nostalgia lane — re-living those epic house-parties where Groovy Dead” was a sonic constant… or that time we copped a feel on the dance-floor to “California”

In short, are the wistful teen moments we’ve attached to these songs far more important than the band itself? Has the band just become the catalyst for memories past, but not really able to create any new ones tonight? It’s complicated… While we’re on the subject of memory, note to Ken MacNeil – you might want to invest in a teleprompter, it’s cool to forget the lyrics to one of your songs and laugh it off with some “aw shucks” charm, but, when it happens a few times it’s a bit distracting.

It’s not that they were particularly bad; in fact, they were pretty tight for a group that hasn’t played together live for 10+ years, and MacNeil’s familiar nasal wail remains intact to this day, but for me at least the whole thing lacking something…

I went in search of something with a little more punch. A quick post-dinner scramble over to Sneaky Dees, and I soon found myself taking in Detroit Michigan’s Child Bite.

ChildBite nxne 2011

The slightly spastic baby of; Shawn Knight, Danny Sperry and Sean Clancy, Child Bite shimmied and bounced their way over the line between genius and madness throughout a yelping, post-punk infused set.

Like any good mad-professor’s lab, there’s a lot going on here as “hit you in the gut” bass-lines, random bursts of discordant guitar, and keyboardist/vocalist Shawn Knight’s manic warble combine to create something that is both a charming, bratty shambles and a three-Advil-migraine waiting to happen.

Even 24 hours later, I’m not sure which side of Child Bite’s musical fence I’m on, and I don’t think that at times even they’re quite sure — but maybe it’s the nervous tension between pure creative outburst and the need to bang out accessible hooks that makes them worth checking out if they come to your fair city…little tip? keep your thinking caps off if you do, you’ll never quite get it, but maybe that’s just the way they want it…

NXNE Report day 2

Flush the Fashion

Editor of Flush the Fashion and Flush Magazine. I love music, art, film, travel, food, tech and cars. Basically, everything this site is about.