What’s better than a rooftop patio complete with live music on a bright Saturday afternoon? Absolutely nothing.
Audio Blood hosted a stellar NXNE event to showcase some of their artists, including Old Man Canyon, Slow Down Molasses, Army Girls, Royal Tusk, Fast Romantics and secret guests Teenage Kicks. The beautiful day and open bar were bonuses that helped everyone’s already sunny demeanors along that little bit extra. Outdoor shows are not always the most easily controlled, in terms of achieving good sound, but every band that played sounded awesome. The mixes were just right. We managed to catch most of the event, and here’s a rundown of the artists we were fortunate enough to watch play.
Army Girls is a two-piece band from Toronto featuring Carmen Elle (vocals/guitar) and Andy Smith (drums). Elle brought some dry humour to their outstanding set of garage band-style originals, but the highlight of their set were her sweet, sweet vocals. Petite but powerful, she blasted out some real beauties. Her pure sounding voice contrasted with the sounds she achieved from her electric guitar, but it worked in a complimentary way that I found really pleasing. Smith carried the beat and just helped the set groove along. It was perfect for a sunny Saturday afternoon.
On a side note, Elle is also a member of the band Diana who just made the long list for the Polaris Prize.
After Army Girls, Royal Tusk hit the stage. This Alberta band are in the midst of a Canadian tour to support their first six song EP, Mountain, on Hidden Pony Records. With five members, they brought things up a notch in terms of volume. Led by singer/guitarist Daniel Carriere and bassist Sandy MacKinnon, Royal Tusk play rock music with hints of Americana and soul. Their sound is rounded out by keys, drums and percussion. Their songs feature cool riffs, strong vocals, and a nice, full sound.
Secret guests Teenage Kicks played an energetic set that reaffirmed why they’ve been gaining such momentum since brothers Peter and Jeff van Helvoort formed the band a short while ago. They’re the whole package. Great tunes, talented and tight band, catchy riffs and good-looking to boot. When listening to their album Spoils of Youth, you’ll hear honest, cliché-free music; their most true expression of what rock music means to them.
The album didn’t come easy. They recorded it in West Hollywood and found the original recording to be unusable. They lost band members, suffered bad timing and worse luck and yet persisted. Peter’s work as a producer made it possible for them to re-record the album with Jeff. They say hard work and persistence pay off and Spoils of Youth version 2 is certainly an example of this. Teenage Kicks are currently playing shows throughout southern Ontario.
Fast Romantics closed out the party with their blend of pop-rock that had everyone dancing, grooving and singing along. Formed in 2008 by singer/songwriter Matthew Angus, bassist Jeffrey Lewis and drummer Alan Reain, they were later joined by Aussie ex-pats Shane O’Keeffe (guitar) and Lauren Heron (keys). Their most recent release, Afterlife Blues (2013), came in part from a realization by Angus that he’d been through a lot of breakups and never written about them. The songs started flowing and working for a second time with producer Howard Redekopp allowed for the band to record this second album in a faster and more comfortable way.
Angus wanted to write straightforward lyrics and back them up with music that’s loud, yet playful and sometimes even euphoric. The band built a reputation by playing high energy shows, attracting a following that allowed them to tour and play many large festivals including Virgin Fest, SXSW, NXNE and CMJ. They also won Spin Magazine’s “Free the Noise” competition and were flown to New York City. Their music has been featured in many TV shows and films, including Shameless, Breaking In, Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars. “Funeral Song” has also been getting a lot of attention.
Audio Blood really nailed it with this event. They chose artists who complimented each other beautifully and hosted a hell of a patio party with the help of their partner Pistonhead Brewery. Well played, Audio Blood, well played.
Photos by Chris Zacchia, see the full album on our Facebook page