Smoke's Concert Reviews: Flaming Lips at NXNE 2012
A short look at just one day in the week long festival.
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After one whole year I have returned with a new concert review. This time I return to Toronto for North by Northeast 2012, or to be more specific, The Flaming Lips at Yonge and Dundas Square. This show featured a variety of bands from punk to electronic to psychedelic rock.
For those not in the know, North by Northeast is a music festival held in Toronto, Ontario featuring a wide variety of music and venues over a week in the summer. It was created as a sister show to South by Southwest down in Texas back in 1994. The show I went to featured 10 bands, of which I saw 7.
Despite the festival taking place all over Toronto in clubs, open areas, and even airports, this event took place at Yonge and Dundas Square, which made very good use of the space. Being a public place, space started out fairly wide open, but as the night went on, it became severely packed, especially upon rumors of Radiohead coming to play. The stage was large enough to accommodate the size of any band, from three pieces, to full eight member bands. Overall, 7.5/10.
With so many bands playing, the act of balancing out each individual instrument was a tough task. The sound was very hit and miss, with some band’s vocals being incredibly low. Of course, with a lineup so varied, some leniency can be given. Instruments were balanced well due to the help of all the techs and volunteers available. Overall, 7/10.
My first set was Vancouver jazz/rock group Brasstronaut, who provided a perfect blend of rock guitars and brass instruments. They definitely set the pace for the rest of the shows with an incredibly solid selection of tracks.
Next up was Montreal pop trio Parlovr. They were one of the bands I have listened to in the past, so I knew what I was getting into. After their set, some of the members came into the crowd to hang out for a few sets and they seemed to be pretty cool guys.
The third act was Ceremony from California. You know how I said that the sound was hit and miss? This was one of those instances. Despite the mic problems, they put on a solid punk show with the usual tropes. You know, stuff like climbing random fixtures, jumping into the crowd, and basically losing his mind. They weren’t one of my favourite bands that played, but they had some serious energy.
The fourth band to play was definitely one of the surprise hits for me. Hailing all the way from Sydney, Australia, Art vs Science put on one of the greatest shows at the event. Putting on an incredibly awesome electronic show, they really knew how to work the crowd. Of course it doesn’t hurt that one of your songs is in French. If it wasn’t for my personal bias towards other groups, they would be my choice for band of the show.
Hollerado is a rock group from Ottawa, and basically the main reason I traveled to Toronto. Due to this fact, I have a bias towards them being my favourite group at the show. They are just good, straight forward pop rock music. Extremely catchy and they make some pretty cool, one-shot videos. I highly recommend them.
The sixth band to perform was Brooklyn dance rockers Oberhofer. They were a band that I didn’t really know. Much of the crowd seemed to be really into them, but I wasn’t a big fan. They definitely had a lot of energy, especially lead singer Brad Oberhofer. Honestly, I don’t have much to say about them.
Now, even though there were two more bands after this, the last band that I saw was Georgia group Of Montreal. It is hard to state how weird their stage show is, but every song included some form of masked person or the inclusion of full bodied spandex suits. If you ignore their stage show, you would still find an incredibly solid, albeit short concert.
If you combine the efforts of all of these amazing bands, I would give an average of about 8/10.
It was incredibly difficult to beat last year’s showing, but thanks to the help of some great bands, they were able to put on an excellent show. If they were able to fix some of the problems associated with the sound, and if it wasn’t so hot out, I would have definitely enjoyed myself a lot more. There was nothing I could truly say was horrible about the show, so if you are in the Toronto area this time next year, be sure to check it out and have an excellent time.
Even more photos can be found here