The Rivoli performance area is really a beautiful space. I actually didn’t even know it existed until I wandered into it one night during CMW (I know, I know, I’m a bad Torontonian).
I had a funny feeling that it would be a tough night for some acts on this night, seeing as how they had the epic hockey game to compete with. But, The room was filled with people who were in high spirits and more than ready to kick-off NXNE.
Megan Bonnell has a voice unlike any other, beautiful, soulful and a strong representation of folk-rock. Since I’m pretty short, I couldn’t really see the stage all too well, so anyone who was at the show, please, correct me if I’m wrong in saying that her set-up was simply her on keyboard, a cello player, and a drummer. Megan Bonnell’s ability to generate continuously harmonic, piano riffs that kept a gentle tempo with an occasional flare of allegro was engaging. A rather riled up audience member actually yelled at the crowd to be quiet, addressing us all as “People of Toronto” and commenting on how rude it was to talk during Bonnell’s set. His intentions were honourable I’m sure, but it was clear that the band was a little put-off by it for the rest of their performance. She ended with a song that was different from the rest of her set: switches in tempos, toying with minor notes in a lower, more aggressive range. Definitely sparked my interest and showed that they had potential to dare to be different.
Now, for any of you that are consistent readers of The Take, or even just my stuff specifically, you may or may not remember my CMW review for Meligrove Band, I got a little bit of flack for some of my comments (I really wasn’t even all that bad in comparison to what I said about other acts!), so this time around I had every intention of keeping an open mind and take more of a positive stand-point.
And then they did an entire set of Ramones songs.
I don’t know what possessed them to do it: CJ Ramone being one of the acts of the fest? Or maybe the lead singer got a new leather jacket and felt the need to attempt taking on an iconic rock persona. I was so confused as to why a band that has a repertoire of their own songs, and a strong fan base, felt the need to disrespect the opportunity of playing NXNE by trying to be funny or maybe in their minds, bold. I know, I know, I should focus on the music, but let’s be honest: even though I am a Ramones fan, I can confidently say that their songs aren’t that hard to play. (I can feel that angry comments a-comin’).
The Paint Movement was up next. By having a mix of guys and gals it gave them an even larger range vocally, which allowed some beautiful harmonies. The band made up of 7 members had big sound that slightly overpowered the tiny space and sadly, drowned out the vocals a bit. Regardless, their upbeat tempos and positive chord progressions made them fun to watch – it was clear that they were both excited, and grateful of the opportunity to play the fest. They loved what they were doing, and it reflected in their performance. The bass lines were amazing, and challenged the saxophone section (yes, saxophone section) beautifully and playfully. There was a song 20 minutes into their set that was made up of primarily ‘woos’ and sax that was really fun to listen to. An excellent crowd pleaser that warmed us up for Library Voices.
Library Voices was the last band I saw at The Rivoli and I left feeling pumped up and on a new kind of adrenaline induced by their kick-ass performance. Their constant change-ups in tempo worked well with their sound, and were executed beautifully. They were a bunch of crazy dudes – at one point the lead singer was doing a handstand with the rest of the band standing closely for support. At another point, I thought somebody was going to fall off the stage onto the photographers/me. They were everywhere all at once, which made for a high-energy show. These guys are a prime example of how far a strong rhythm section can go – that mixed with riffs that contained hook after hook of danceable tunes reminded me of why I bust my ass out to late-night shows, solo, after a long day of work. So thanks to Library Voices for that!