NXNE Day 2: The Unquiet Dead and Musi Showcase

You know when you’re biking across town and it starts raining five minutes into your ride and then, because human reality is cruel, stops raining right as your destination becomes visible?  Welcome to Thursday.

While being a soaking wet mess is okay during the warm months of the year, this is June so it’s still cold in Toronto, a fact that Windsor band The Unquiet Dead seemed to understand better than me.  The band was in town for one night only and since you don’t get to see an eight piece band comprised of metalheads playing folk music very often, they hit my ‘necessary’ list.

The Unquiet Dead

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You don’t have to love Windsor but you do have to respect its diverse and incredibly talented music pool.  When your city sits across from Motown, literally a 10 minute drive away on a day where the border guards are being cool, there’s going to be some talent spillover.

This was The Unquiet Dead’s second year at NXNE and after generating some positive press from last year’s performance came back to play another year.  Perhaps one of the stranger facts about this group is that many of the members do come from metal and hard rock backgrounds, a fairly common theme in Windsor’s music scene.  As years go by though, aspirations change and the music blender churns out some oddly successful mixes.

As mentioned in the last post here, if you can properly add more instruments to a band and still maintain sonic integrity, it’s worth trying.  The Unquiet Dead have capitalized on this notion and sitting at 9 members (most of the time), their stage show is as big as the individual personalities.  What you get with an Unquiet Dead show is loads of fun, what’s the point otherwise?

It’s a fair bet that the musical backgrounds of the band assist in making the show completely energetic.  Usually folky bands like this tend to take the stage and perform a set wrought with proficiency, tact, and absolute boredom for the audience.  The Unquiet Dead can’t stand still and soon after breaking into any given song you’ll find at least a few members of the crew dancing.

While they do need to work on their song placement when considering their set, the band is of the type that makes you scratch your head and wonder why they aren’t more popular outside of Windsor.  Their energy is infectious, their music is bold and louder than you’d expect and they have a tambourine player that adds so much more to the set than you’re thinking right now.

This group is a definite must-see the next time they’re in town.

Jane’s Party

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Jane’s Party is a quintessential Toronto band, they’ve built a decent following in the city and are expanding their reach to the rest of the country.  Playing as part of the Musi Artists/Left Frame Pictures showcase, they kicked off the show with a set punctuated by a few great songs.

Packed onto a small stage, four strong, they pumped out a well-paced set that only faltered a couple times.  True charmers, Jane’s Party is a great live band that plays familiar music very proficiently.  You might not love their sound but by the end of a set your head will be nodding.  Give this group of guys another year and it’s a good bet they’ll be headlining clubs.

Wildlife

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Wall of Sound was a term popularized in the 60’s by controversial producer Phil Spector; it also describes the live show of Toronto band Wildlife.  This group is well practiced and it shows in every move they make onstage.  Ferocious vocals punctuate guitar-driven tunes that deliver a mix of brutal attitude with gorgeous harmonies and deep hooks.

They’ve been together long enough to work as an efficient unit, tearing around the stage like a man-made tornado.  During a 35 minute set they only let up a couple of times when, I’m guessing, they blew up the sound system from too much rock.  Wildlife is almost overwhelming when they take the stage, it’s a perfectly executed balance between aggression and deftness that ends up creating amazing sounds backed with dynamite energy.

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