Opening day (and one night at the Palais Royale)

Wednesday morning began with a degree of uncertainty as I awaited the reaction of my employers to the “two weeks” I communicated to them the day before. Would I be freed to stroll my second NXNE festival on my own determination, or be obliged to labor long hours to unremitting distraction? Fortunately, I was afforded the pardon of the former, and I was out of the office by the crack of noon. Yes, man!

While the four day, predominantly independent, embrace-all music and film festival/conference didn’t officially begin until 5PM, the anticipation of the Toronto community was represented in banner-form along the facades of over 30 venues across the downtown core. “Star gazing”, as they call it here, while perusing the shops along Queen Street West yielded a Halifamous sighting with a glimpse of In-Flight Safety’s John Mullane being interviewed by Musicmusic’s Matt Wells on the patio of an outdoor cafe. Too intimidated to say hi, I kept moving (edit: While Mullane and his MMVA-nominated bandmates are eminently talented, I am only intimidated by Halifax stars from decade spanning the nineties… you’ll see later).

A hundred dollars – and seemingly 50 kilometres of walking – later, the subway trek to Nathan Phillips Square was completed just in time to see Mayor David Miller introduce the festival to several hundred onlookers. Festivities commenced with a performance of Montreal’s Dr. Draw - the buzz band of the festival from what I am told.

Now, let’s make something clear. It’s completely against my philosophy to insert my personal bias into any semblance of a music review, but since this is a personal blog, I am going to make a rule: If your band has nine members, a fiddler-harpist combo is unnecessary.

As the sun set at dusk, Shad K (who played last year’s HPX) took the stage for a set of groovy hip hop that was seamless with the venue's warm, summer vibe. With guitar in hand, and accompanied on stage by only a DJ and beat boxer, it was an ideal way to conclude part one of the festival.

The NXNE Opening Night Party to follow was a kickoff of its own, and most of the first part looked like this:

8:20, waiting for shuttle bus8:40, waiting for shuttle bus9:00, waiting for shuttle bus9:20, shuttle bus arrives!

Although it’s still unclear who arranged for a single shuttle for several hundred guests to the out-of-the-way Palais Royale, the opening schmooze was a relaxed way for members of the Canadian music biz to begin a busy few days. Familiar faces included Jill Barber, Mullane, Dan Ledwell (also of In-Flight Safety), Waye Mason & Ben Pearlman (together again!) and Barry Walsh (formerly of Cool Blue Halo, and now of the Toronto-based Galore).

Of course I made it a priority to meet Walsh, over whom I poured fanatical praise for his work including a performance of the familiar “Too Much Kathleen” at the recent Halifax debut of Galore at Tribeca. (shaking head embarrassed)

Anyway, signing off for today. Certainly a full day, which wouldn’t have been possible if I was working.

More tomorrow including taking over Muchmusic headquarters, and efforts to get into the “secret” Blue Rodeo show.

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Get more Halifax

The Coast Daily email newsletter is your extra dose of the city Monday through Friday. Sign up and go deep on Halifax.