By: Fridae Mattas
North By Northeast 2011 came and went so fast it was like deja vu in my brain because the events seemed like months away but it crept up like a sneak attack June 13 to the 19th. This year they had many Pre-NXNE concerts at various venues in our beautiful city of Toronto. Every year I bust my ass to find the best of the best and that is where most of the media ends up. This year I decided to scour the venues with very little scheduling, I was hitting up every single venue on my path and if they had a band that was captivating enough I would stay and take a few shots like I did with Freedom or Death at the Rivoli, they had an interesting sound and played well together but vocals need a lot of work on pitch, tone and they more back up vocals because I did not hear any if there was. I did film the band but unfortunatley it does not sound good at all, the filming is great looks too cool because it’s night vision and it sounds great but would not want to torture anyone else with that playback of the band. Freedom or Death was the only band I have ever seen to request no lighting, they wanted everything dark. Gimmicks either work or they don’t, you will be curious cause I mention it. As the media or a concert goer, I will not see that band again they are too demanding already and the music is not good enough to sit in the dark for. You can simply hit up their myspace and turn off the lights in your own home for free and save a few dollars. At a regular show do what you want but at a showcase where you know the media might attend or hoping that someone in the media will be there to help give your band some sort of exposure. Putting yourself in the dark only puts you in “The Land of the Forgotten”. Personally, I hate using flash because I myself don’t like it when people flash the camera in my eye so why would I put others through the same thing? For this band I had no choice but to use flash they brought it upon themselves.
Asstastic seemed to be the trend, almost every band I came across was below par, how did half even get into the festival? Obviously there were the guaranteed spectacular performances by the known bands (Die Mannequin, Fucked Up, Black Lungs, Sweet Thing) but I wanted to cover bands I have never seen before. I already know the good ones are going to melt my face and the whole point was to find new ones that would do the same. At these festivals I go into the venue check the band, film and shoot if they are worth it and bounce onto the next one. I don’t have time to waste explaining to security the band I need to shoot is on right now and I’m just going in to take a few shots, that happend way too many times and I really can’t sit through a whole showcase bcause not all the bands are good, been there done that. The parties are where it’s at, aside from the bigger acts at Yonge and Dundas Square where all the other media were pretty much stationed for the whole festival, the parties if you can manage to get in are sick. One band that stuck out among the pile of merde was Candy Coated Killahz who rocked a BBQ party by the beaches, I really wanted to film the set but it was too small a space with way too many people and I don’t work parties, I party at them. It’s so funny how they have labels like ‘Scene Kids’, ‘Hipsters’, ‘Rockabillies’ you get my point, personally I think snobs are snobs, they all have their different little groups of wannabees and posers dying to be a part of that clique, it’s like High School never ends.
So glad I float as a unique individual not labeled to one group because you can’t put a label on a person as eclectically enigmatic as I. We may not have chilled at the beach but we did however find the Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum trailer! As we waited for an interview to wrap up for our tour of the trailer, The Black Lungs were unleashing on the Shoe’s stage whose back door was right in front of us. Sailor Jerry’s trailer was stationed right behind the Legendary Horseshoe. The Black Lungs sounded phenomenal! The back door was shut, obviously I am not allowed to go through the back because I am not staff or in the bands. As I was debating on running around the corner I remembered how insane it gets at festivals and by the time they even let me in, the bands set would be over. There were some killer tunes via Black Lungs as the soundtrack while we waited for our Sailor Jerry trailer tour. Immediately loved all the hospitality the friendly Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum crew had to offer, they were ready to mix us some drinkies. As we waited for this Sailor Jerry Guinness concoction there were a couple of cute guitars chilling that I had to photograph. The Guinness concoction was really good it actually patched up my relationship with Guinness now its not all mud to me I can have a little as long as it’s mixed with Sailor Jerry’s.
Since I made this years NXNE coverage all about catching some freshness that is exactly what I did after a trip to the NXNE Headquarters I migrated up to The Dakota Tavern, which was completely tore up Country style by two of Canada’s rockers Rick Jackett and James Black of Finger Eleven. They hit the stage as Blackie Jackett Jr, the two band-mates debuted Blackie Jackett Jr at CMW 2009 and have played dozens of times around the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) since but I always missed them. Not a fan of most Country tunes but I do like artists that infuse some edge stepping outside the boundaries of their music, my ears will give any type of music a chance. Those that have read the review on Finger Eleven know that Rick Jackett is my favorite guitarist on stage ever and why! When I reached the Dakota it wasn’t full but once the band hit the stage all these people popped out of corners and crowded around the super small stage which had about seven people crammed on it. The band kicked off the show with the track below titled “Start Fucking Show”. It was absolutely refreshing to see Black come out of his shell because at Finger Eleven shows he’s pretty laid back and quiet, he needed to step it up. You could tell he felt more comfortable on this stage but was still a little nervous, his vocals were pretty decent probably the best I heard all week and it was Alterna-Country.
Surprisingly I could handle Black’s voice more than I can many ‘Country’ artists, this was the first time I heard him actually sing by himself live. Very amazing that he has such a diverse musical ear, no wonder he didn’t hesitate when he was asked by AliKat to do the guitar on a collaboration track called ‘Gone’ with Justin Nozuka and RZA. I wanted to join in on the party, Rick Jackett was on the Banjo all smiles thoroughly enjoying himself as was most of the others in the posse. Sometimes the band seemed a little crammed in there, the back up singers were given a few solo’s and I for the life of me cannot remember their names. There was only one female on the stage and she had a sweet voice but needs to project a little more and try not to let the nerves take over. She need to have more confidence in herself when singing. The other guest singer that I caught was an older guy, he also did back up vocals for the whole Blackie Jackett set, again I have no idea what his name is but he also was pretty decent vocally but seemed the most nervous out of the bunch. Would I see Blackie Jackett live again? No doubt about it and this time I’m not working, just gonna party it up like the hoedown it turned out to be.
That is the end of the music portion of the North By Northeast editorial, it’s time to discuss a film that was played during North By Northeast. Although I missed the actual screening I did see this film during the last day of NXNE if that counts! My intention was to do a separate review but decided to add it to the NXNE editorial because I wanted to see the film when it was screened on the 13th during the first evening of the festival but couldn’t make it. Always have been a fan of Nirvana since I was a teen but I was never an obsessed fan, I thought it was tragic the way things ended but after seeing this film I now want to read the book. Watching the film Kurt Cobain: About A Son which was directed by AJ Schnack and listening to what Cobain said gave me the chills because I understood a lot of what he had to say, we have similar views on many things. The film is a documentary based around the recorded interviews by Michael Azerrad done for the book Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana. In the film, Cobain is talking with Azerrad answering questions about everything, including his childhood, the band, Courtney and Frances. As they jibber it shows pictures and clips of things related to what Cobain is discussing at that point in the film and are associated with memories of places he’s been and lived. You don’t see any filmed footage of Cobain and there are very few photographs of Kurt in the film, there are just a few live shots of him at the end. At one point he said he hated Journalists and for a split second I was annoyed but he explained he hated the gossip columnists and tabloid type that are talking shit about his personal life. He would have hated them even more today. Cobain and I might have gotten along, we have many similar thought paths minus a few things like suicide and the drug addiction he was clearly in denial about. Everyone, if you get a chance to see this film do it! And that’s a wrap for NXNE 2011 oh wait before we part check the below photo they were extremely entertaining I have no idea what band it is but people came from the street just to see what was going on! For more photos and videos you know where to go FridaeTV FB and FridaeTV Youtube see you next year! Huge thank you goes out to the folks of North By Northeast and the awesome people at Flip Publicity!