ETERNAL SUMMERS AT THE DRAKE UNDERGROUND
Review by Laura Cappe
Photos by Evan Cappe
At first glance Eternal Summers is a bit of a mystery. The Virginia trio – consisting of two grungy male garage rockers (sporting wolf print t-shirts and long dark hair) and their female lead in a prim skirt and blouse – looks as if they represent two completely different genres: pop and punk rock. Surprisingly what came out through the first song however, was a delightful marriage of the two – the perfect contrast of poppy vocals with a grungier hard rock sound.
The band played to a seemingly serious crowd of media and interactive badge holders at the Drake Underground last night. Although, it didn’t take long before they were able to iron out the stiffness in the room with their powerhouse pop-rock tunes that got everyone moving. High fives were exchanged, excited glances and whispers “this is awesome” rippled through the crowd.
It’s a special thing when opposites come together to create something cohesive. Eternal Summers did just that.
Ryan O’Reilly at Czehoski
Review by Kate Davies
Entering the clinically-narrow walls of Czehoski on a Wednesday night, one expects to be met with a handful of older bar hounds and perhaps a newly-blossoming couple looking for somewhere “cozy but fun” for their fourth date. However, on this particular hump day, the place was packed and sweltering in anticipation of the much buzzed about indie artist who is based in London, England. Ryan O’Reilly and his three-man band (one of whom he met while in Toronto a few years back) transformed the rather tiny stage into something melancholy and beautiful for their first set at NXNE. Growing up in the land of Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen in the south of England, O’Reilly epitomizes the poetic roots of his homeland through his wistful and honest lyrics. Not only has his writing reached a mature level despite his relative brevity as a recording artist, but his voice captures the sincerity found in musicians well beyond his years. His debut album “The Blighted Apple”, is currently available and well worth the purchase. The band is playing 11:00pm tonight at the Supermarket and 11:00pm Friday at the El Mocambo main floor, as well as an outdoor performance at Trinity Bellwoods Park Saturday. Highly recommended!
Annalise Emerick at Czehoski
Review by Kate Davies
Revising my schedule in light of the fantastic performance by Ryan O’Reilly, I decided to stay at Czehoski and check out the next artist booked. Annalise Emerick originates from Nashville but has relocated to Boston where she can regularly be found playing various coffee houses and indie haunts throughout the city. A self-described gypsy, her slow-paced music caters to the mellow, singer-songwriter enthusiast. Although possessing a sweet, on-key vocal range, her songs were unfortunately bland and predictable. There was a marked lack of connection with her audience, as Emerick failed to tell us anything about herself or her songs. In a world where the singer-songwriter is up against the likes of classics like Bob Dylan and Neil Young as well as modern-day musicians such as Feist and Damien Rice, something really special needs to occur to stay afloat. Unfortunately for Emerick’s music, it lacks any notion of uniqueness or commercialism, and therefore gets swept to sea amongst the ever-changing ebb and flow of the indie market.
Hill & The Sky Heros at the Hash Tag Gallery & Hate Gang at the Rochester
Review and Photos by Adam Steel
I was quite fortunate to receive the inside scoop that not one, not two…but four secret bands would be playing an intimate and undisclosed set at Hash Tag Gallery on NXNE’s first evening of weeklong festivities. Arriving well before the 7:00pm deadline—after which the doors would be sealed shut (!!!)—this invite-only event proved a perfectly mellow start to the devilishly decadent evening ahead. Moosehead, un-chilled wine and sumptuous rosehip concoctions were on the menu, as music enthusiasts crashed out on blankets and throw pillows for an informal acoustic performance by Hill & The Sky Heroes, the solo project of Hill Kourkoutis, whose gnarly style and impressive pedigree (having worked with The Weeknd, The Cliks, and Martha & The Muffins) were an unquestionable success. Having just released her debut LP, 11:11, the night before, Kourkoutis seemed to be on a performance high as she hammered her way through a personal cache of finely crafted tales, replete with foot-stomping ferocity and hard-hitting guitar (literally breaking a string two songs in) and accompanied by fantastic, tambourine-touting vocal support. My legs may have fallen asleep—twice—but it was worth bearing firsthand witness to that rare and genuine connection between artist and reveler.
Of course, I wanted to stay all night but the foul-mouthed calls of hardcore thrash punks were beckoning from up the street. Just a block away from Hash Tag at the newly opened Rochester, fighting hard to catch my breath, I ascended the jagged staircase to the ominous, staccato rhythm of thumping drumbeats, an appropriate welcoming for the gladiator that I felt I was (the rosehip cocktails were still fresh in my head). Upon entering the expansive space, it was hard not to notice how decidedly un-punk the place was: whimsical décor and seating room drenched in soft blue lights and silk panels, complete with cocktail waitresses who were almost too polite for words. As I plopped myself into one of the newly upholstered booths, with an eye on the mile-long bar (overpopulated with servicemen who still had not figured out the complex workings of the cash register), Toronto’s Hate Gang ripped into their boisterous set, defiantly and appropriately loud. Front-man James Holler looked the part with his jaunty hat and leather pants, complemented by a perfect leather jacket emblazoned with ‘HATE GANG’ across the back (by the end, it was all that I could do not to make off with it myself). Performing tracks from their self-titled EP, the criminally short set was still enough to shake up the shackles, cementing this furious foursome into the punk mainstream. After sharing whiskey shots with guitarist Robyn, my posse and I went off dancing into the moonlight. I don’t quite remember how I got home. Day One: completed.
Hate Gang play again on Sunday, June 17 at Crawford with our very own Laura Hermiston of the BB Guns.