Shortly after graduation from Northwestern University with a BA in violin performance, Andrew Bird began his career like so many other twenty-something hopefuls…with a self-released album (Music of Hair, 1996). Over the past 18 years, Bird has soared through dive bars and music festivals, making performance pitstops at landmarks like Carnegie Hall and New Orleans’ Preservation Hall. As the Midwestern multi-instrumentalist and world-class whistler prepares to hit the road again this summer in support of his latest release, I Want to See Pulaski at Night, we take a look back at some of our favorite live shots.
It’s been quite a summer for The Flaming Lips – the band packed over 18,000 of their closest fans into Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square for this year’s NXNE festival before embarking on a Guinness World Record breaking tour. The Oklahoma City natives recently seized the throne from Jay-Z after playing eight shows across the Mississippi Delta, earning the award for “Most Concerts Played in 24 Hours.”
With six albums on the table and a turbulent year behind them (remember that whole stolen van fiasco?), the Alaskans of Portugal. The Man are leaning into 2012 with the sun on their faces. The quartet brought their T-Rex inspired glam fuzz and #1 fan Wayne Coyne to the Yonge-Dundas Stage for this year’s NXNE festival.
Patriotic luchadores? Check. Pigmen? Check. Ghost lobsters? Check. Creatures that belong in Pan’s Labyrinth? Check. Androgynous lead singer backed by psychedelic noisemakers? Check. Kevin Barnes and his fellow Of Montreal cohorts sure know how to start a party. They had hips shaking all over Yonge-Dundas Square during their head-tripping NXNE set.
Hailing from the Best Coast, er…West Coast, surf punk sisters Jennifer and Jessica Calvin delivered their lo-fi sound to NXNE fans during Toronto’s most notable indie music festival. Although the sisters of Bleached draw serious comparisons to Bethany Consentino, we can’t get our hands on enough California fuzz pop bands these days, so the more the merrier!
Plants and Animals have come a long way since the release of their self-titled debut in 2002. Although the Montreal-based trio initially began as a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants instrumental project, the band has called upon new sounds (and voices) over the past decade to create what they refer to as “post-classic rock.” Plucking inspiration from Mick Jagger, Arcade Fire, and Hunter S. Thompson, Plants and Animals wowed NXNE fans at the Yonge-Dundas Square stage.
In April of 2011, Montreal indie rockers The Stills announced their dissolution. In the wake of that breakup, The Stills’ principal songwriter Dave Hamelin joined forces with keyboardist Liam O’Neil, picking up Broken Social Scene’s drummer Justin Peroff along the way. The trio formed a new band, Eight and a Half, who brought their synth-driven rock to Yonge-Dundas Square for NXNE.
Since earning the Third Man Records stamp approval in 2011, Jack White protégés The Black Belles have found themselves in the midst of ”garage goth” world domination. Merely a week after taking The Garrison stage at NXNE, the all-girl act hailing from Nashville shared the stage with Stephen Colbert.
The term “grass widow,” which dates back to the 1500s, refers to a woman whose lover or spouse is temporarily absent, out to sea, or off to war. Lillian Maring (drums, vocals), Hannah Lew (bass, vocals) and Raven Mahon (guitar, vocals) rely on themes of love, loss, and life to pen their post-punk influenced narratives. If you didn’t have the chance to see the San Francisco-based trio Grass Widow at this year’s NXNE conference, catch them cracking jokes on Portlandia with Joanna Newsom and Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes!