NO PAIN NO GAIN
Story by Laura Hermiston
Video by Olenka Szysmonski
My NXNE 2012 experience consisted of in total sixteen hours of sleep, eleven bands, three DJ sets, and two bruised knees. The week long festival features both local and international band showcases at venues in downtown Toronto. With my NXNE badge I was able to cut in front of the long lines and get in to shows for bands I have been following for years such as Bass Drum of Death, Metz, Planet Creature, Hate Gang, and Invasions; as well as bands I have never seen before such as Mac DeMarco, Bishop Morocco, The Black Belles, Rival Boys, and Bleached.
Bass Drum of Death played to a packed crowd at Wrongbar on Queen St. W. Despite the success of this Mississippi band, their show was as raw, sweaty, and powerful as any underground punk band. When I spoke to front man John, it seems he is still writing all their songs and recording on his own using Garageband.
I caught a ride with the band in their tour van to see their label mates, Bleached, play at the Silver Dollar on Spadina. This venue is half the size of Wrongbar and in turn was filled to capacity. The room was full of denim and plaid adorned males who had their eyes glued on the two blondes; Jennifer and Jessica. Watching them is like watching a younger and less rugged Courtney Love mixed with the sexy powerful stares of Deborah Harry.
One of the standout bands based out of Toronto that I was able to see were the Invasions. The last time I saw them play they had a heavy brit-pop sound. However, their set at the Crawford saw a major line-up change and a completely new direction in their sound. They seemed to have matured and exchanged their raucous sound for a more blues and surf inspired sound. Their set proved that they are are now their own band, as opposed to another Liberitnes rip off band.
My most memorable moment was seeing the Black Belles at the Garrison. Meeting them for our interview disproved my prior judgements about a band with girls all dressed in black with matching hats and who had supposedly only “made it” because of Jack White. In actuality, they were some of the best musicians I saw at NXNE and completely down to earth.
Check out our late night interview with the Black Belles and Bishop Morrocco. We talk about tips and tricks on how to get black lipstick to stay on, as well as what it is like to be a “fashionable” band.