June 16, 2010 — I spent the first official night of NXNE 2010 at the Velvet Underground, which was hosting one of three opening galas. From 9pm to shortly after midnight, I planted myself close to the stage in what I deemed a prime spot for shooting the performing bands. On this night, they were (respectively) Ashley, the Wilderness, and Julia Set Generator.
Ashley were up first, and actually pretty damn good. The sharply dressed foursome took the stage and lead singer belted out tune after tune with gusto. Also, I have never seen a bass player nod along quite as fast or as much to the rhythm as I did with the bass player for this band.
In the middle of the set, the drummer left his drums and grabbed a guitar, and the band broke out into a “love song.” They were really energetic and enthusiastic, which can be hard to do especially when the crowd is just filing in. However, repeated attempts to try to draw the crowd closer failed. While I heard girls saying to each other, “I really like them!”, the crowd was fairly still and meagerly bopping along.
Despite the lackluster audience, the band finished their set triumphant in the end and even managed to get a few “woo-hoos” and whistles out of the growing audience.
Where they may have failed to rile up the crowd though, the next band, the Wilderness, definitely succeeded.
The Wilderness like to throw a party. As soon as the lead singer jumped up on stage (and barefoot, no less) he repeatedly beckoned to the crowd until they came closer. Launching into their first song while bouncing around the stage like an atom, if you will, they were undoubtedly the stars of this night. There was also a hula-hoop dancer in the audience, another [interpretive?] dancer onstage, and balloons flying around everywhere (the lead singer handed them out to the audience during the songs.)
The singer also managed to gather whatever balloons he could find and punch them back out into the audience. What’s more, he carried around a glitter shaker and sprinkled glitter on everyone. All while he was barefoot, by the way. Yeah. I seriously thought I might have been slipped drugs for a moment, but later discovered I was completely sober.
Last but not least, there were signs with the lyrics written on them held up during one of the songs. So, for invoking audience participation, the Wilderness get an A++++++++. It actually became more like a party than a concert by the end of their set.
Anyways, Julia Set Generator wrapped up the night.
They were great, no doubt. But the Wilderness were a tough act to follow, especially in terms of showmanship. But at least Julia Set Generator handed out free CDs to anyone lucky enough to grab one before they began!
Anyways, as they began I was brought back into a comfortable rock ‘n’ roll vibe. The singer[s] were great, the drummer was great, the bass player was great. Basically, everyone was great. But also, it was kind of a typical rock ‘n’ roll show. So, though I was really comfortable with the vibe, I wasn’t in super awe.
The singers switched up during the middle which was an interesting dynamic. In a good way, I mean. It’s not often you see two “lead” singers sharing the mike, but it happened here.
Strong guitar skills and drumming skills were especially on display with these guys. I’m not sure how long they’ve been around, but if they keep up performances like last night, I’m sure they’ll be around for us to enjoy much longer.
They finished the set, and surprisingly, most of the audience was still there watching and rocking out! Awesome! Because this means that the set was a successful one.
All in all, NXNE 2010 is off to a great start!
– REVIEW AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAKINA SHAKIL