On the fourth day of NXNE, the festival gave to me: 1 Q&A, 1 NXNEi panel, 7 bands to watch including Bran Van 3000 on a bench!
Yes, Day 4 was an exciting one and very long, but worth every minute of the effort (even the part where I stood on a bench and contorted while Drinking In T.O.)! Splitting my adventures again into two postings, let’s take a look at a brilliant 1-2-3 combination at Mod Club.
Contrary to Nash’s beliefs, some of us did come specifically to see the Montreal native’s performance. Having sampled his work, I’d decided that I couldn’t imagine a better warm-up for the evening and was quickly proven correct. Frolicking through his 40-minute set, Nash set out to entertain and liven the crowd and certainly did not disappoint.
Nash’s music is rooted in indie pop-rock, but with an island flair – perhaps a realm lost between funk and rocksteady. The result is a sound that befits a warm night around the bonfire, sharing songs and stories over several pitchers of margaritas. This isn’t to imply that the songs are trite. Lyrically, Nash takes the listener on a trip down a memory lane many of us share, filled with lost loves, betrayals and regrets. The earnest honesty and keyboard-adorned rock sound remind one of the limbo between Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin – almost as if Nash is channelling Andrew McMahon in flux. Nash also shares McMahon’s sense of meandering recollections of a particular day, building to a poignant message. There are no heavy-handed, obtuse lyrics here; Nash shoots from the heart yet still manages to smile. Vocally, one is reminded of early Incubus and Brandon Boyd’s soaring gin-soaked notes.
Nash is sonic nostalgia and yet evolving, making for a refreshing indulgence for the senses. Highly recommended auditory sun, sand and liquor.
If Nash is the man strumming around the bonfire to the first rounds of margaritas just before sunset, Vacationer is the tequila-soaked, dancing-on-the-tables crowd a few hours later. Billing their music as “nu-hula”, Vacationer aims to take their listeners on that vacation they always mean to take and never actually book. With the self-confidence of Jarvis Cocker and undertones of calypso and reggae, Vacationer is an all-inclusive resort for the auditory canal. The drinks are flowing, the music is loud and there’s no better time to dance with strangers. Your soundtrack: a breezy pop-rock that sounds like what would happen if The Beach Boys formed in this more cynical age. And yes, it definitely works.
Definitely in demand for the festival, judging from the enthusiastic turn-out, White Rabbits marched on stage and promptly pushed the crowd down the rabbit hole into a Wonderland of drums and synth-y goodness. Based out of Brooklyn, White Rabbits deliver a sound that is, for lack of better terms, bipolar: moody, yet joyful. Picture Brand New rocking out with far less angst in the lyrics and a drum circle accompaniment. An indie pop sound birthed in the heyday of Garbage and lovingly shaped by the likes of OK Go and Modest Mouse, White Rabbits pounds into the body and demands you shake! And move! And love life!
Seems excessively punctuated? If you’ve heard White Rabbits, you understand my language. Their music tribal, to watch them perform is to slip into another world for a time, one pulsing with light and strange beauty. If you’ve somehow not yet heard them, make it a priority.
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