Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Alright on NXNE Thursday

Good Riddance is one of those punk bands I've listened to a bit, but paid little attention to, so I thought I'd give its 8 p.m. set at Yonge Dundas Square a shot.

The tattooo-covered Fat Wreck Chords veterans' music was reasonably melodic in places and more hardcore at other times. The crowd wasn't overly enthusiastic and I felt no urge to leave my perch at a stool and table beside the Moosehead booth in the fenced off licensed area, where I could see the stage on a video screen. Tall cans of Magners cider for $7 were the best alcohol option from both a taste and value standpoint.

"Shadows of Defeat" and "Mother Superior" were the best the California band had to offer.

I have more Bad Religion albums and like a lot of its stuff, but it's always been a group that I felt I didn't impact me as much as my music tastes indicate it should. Case in point: this was my first time seeing Bad Religion (though I sang The Ramones' "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" on stage with guitarist Greg Hetson as part of "Punk Rock Karaoke" at Lee's Palace three years ago).

The port-a-potty line became much longer than the booze lines, but at least I got to hear "21st Century (Digital Boy)" as my bladder expanded uncomfortably. While that was my personal highlight, Bad Religion has built an impressive catalogue over the past 33 years and showed it off by performing "Anesthesia," "Dearly Beloved," "Los Angeles is Burning," "Let Them Eat War," "New Dark Ages" and "Suffer."

I left before the extended set ended so I could grab a couple of pizza slices and walk to the small Kensington Market club, The Detour Bar, to see  a young local band named Alright Alright. The quartet squeezed on to the tiny stage and banged out a set of short, snappy, melodic and energetic tunes that evoked thoughts of the first Strokes album, The Libertines and good, old-fashioned rock-and-roll that rode a surf wave at the end. I'll elevate Alright Alright to Very Good Very Good and will definitely be on the lookout for it in the future.
Alright Alright

I'm a big proponent of Michael Rault and have been singing his praises since I heard his Ma-Me-O debut album in 2010. I saw him for the first time three months ago during Canadian Music Fest and needed to again, though a lineup outside The Dakota Tavern prevented me from seeing his whole set. The young man has a great throwback rock-and-roll sound that brought out some '60s dance steps in the audience and I'm not overstating things by saying his songs stood toe-to-toe with a set-ending, kick-ass cover of Them's "Gloria." Rault's performance reinforced my view that he's one of the most criminally overlooked artists around.

I wrote the bio for Nash and his debut solo album, The Death of Reason, last year and saw him and his like-named pop band for the first time during March's Canadian Music Fest. I was taken with his set and wanted to see him again. Nash is a vibrant performer who appears to enjoy what he's doing and the diminished audience was treated to "Broken Down Satellites," "Super Symmetric," "Good to Go," "Sad Robot Harmonies," "In a State of Mind," "Friendz R Drugz" and "Suit Up."

One buff audience member systematically threw down his possessions and then stripped off his shirt and started dancing until a security member made him put the shirt back on -- to the chagrin of some of the ladies in the club.

The 2 a.m. slot at The Dakota was billed as "Special Guest" and, when it turned out to be The Elwins, I elected to stick around since I'd liked the few songs I'd heard and hadn't seen the band before. The quartet's melodic, '60s-influenced power pop was jangly and danceable, and some songs were ballsier than others.
The Elwins

Nash was dancing to The Elwins' cover of Beyonce's "Countdown." I've never heard the original, but I'm pretty sure that I'd still prefer The Elwins' version more if I had. The set lasted for a few more songs and I was happy I stayed for it. The Elwins are another local band I'd see again.

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