NXNE 2013 Thursday Review from Indie Underground

Alvvays Arts and Crafts Pop Up Indie Underground Aaron McMillan

Alvvays performing Thursday June 13th at the Arts&Crafts Free Pop Up Show.

Check out the eight reviews (plus music samples) of the bands that I took in for NXNE Thursday, June 13, 2013.

Michael Rault
Arts&Crafts Pop Up Show

This man has swagger, not an over the top amount, but a healthy supply. He also has a lovely, simple looking electric guitar that resembles a gingerbread coloured ice cream sandwich – it’s true. His Roots/Jive/Americana vibe had the crowd’s close attention as soon as the first note was played until the very last. Had me tapping the floor and my thigh the entire performance. Midway through I realized that I saw him at over 2012’s NXNE at Bellwoods last year by himself – SO happy that I got to see him with his 3 other mischievous counterparts.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/13920056″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Arts&Crafts Pop Up Show

I’ve been wanting to see Alvvays since before the NXNE Schedule came out. However their scheduled performance at the Silver Dollar Room on Friday (June 14th) doesn’t fit into my schedule sadly… SO when I saw that they were included at the Free A&C Pop Up show in the daytime I had to make sure I saw them – And I did (even though it was torrential rain showers outside). Their sound is 60’s Inspired Rock / Pop / Garage. Of course the lead singer is a female and her voice fit the bill perfectly – it kept reminding me of Dee Dee from the Dum Dum Girls. All the band members were great – noticing a difference in personality through all of them (interesting to watch). Also, it was nice to see Alec O’Hanley from The Danks (formerly of Two Hours Traffic) as an active member of the band (man, he’s a busy musician!). Overall, very happy I stayed to see them. The photo above shows a fun moment when a line of about 25 people walk by all while holding hands and decide to stop in-front of the window just as Alvvays finish one of their songs. Both the line of people outside cheer and celebrate for the music and we all, band included cheer for them back.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/84132191″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]


The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern

Arrived to the Horseshoe and it was PACKED! Word got out about Diana and from what I could see. I was waaaaay at the back near where they were serving beer (still not a bad location ;) ). However, from where I was, it was still exciting – And I could only see their tops of their shoulders up (at best).

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/50043413″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]


Comfort Zone

This is the second time I’ve seen Braids. In my opinion their live performance outweighs their recorded material. I got a good eclectic electronic experience again from them (even though there were multiple feedback issues). Lead singer, Raphaelle Standell-Preston is just a complete pleasure on stage. Seeming so innocent and so into her music. You cannot do anything but love her up there.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/89984891″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Sean Nicolas Savage

Comfort Zone

I didn’t plan on seeing Sean Nicolas Savage tonight but I wanted to give him another shot as I saw him a month ago. This time around I saw something different. It was a similar innocence to him – like the above mentioned, Raphaelle Standell-Preston. He loves what he does and show’s who he is from the inside out. An example of this was shown before his performance when the DJ in-between sets played “Only In My Dreams” by Debbie Gibson (80’s pop star). Savage came up on stage danced and sang his heart out. The already packed crowd completely ate it up, therefore capturing their attention and love. He sang creative love / pop songs of his own over-top of recorded music from his ipod. And YES, there is more to Sean Nicolas Savage then just him signing over-top music on his ipod.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/80821523″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Blue Hawaii

Comfort Zone

Blue Hawaii made my NXNE Thursday. I had underestimated them, mostly because their majority of music samples on soundcloud are somewhat of the softer experimental electronic variety and I just wasn’t feeling it. However their live performance was compltely opposite and full of powerful electronic beats. It was a dance party to the extreme! The duo was infectious on stage. The female half was Raphaelle Standell-Preston of Braids (which was probably the reason why I stuck around). At times she sounded similar to Grimes which was awesome. Check out the music sample below.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/2950054″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Tarantula X


This was an unexpected run in as Tarantula X was DJ’ing a set before the Kontravoid scheduled performance. I saw him open for Crystal Castles a week ago at Sound Academy. This time it was to a much smaller audience but still – Very good Electro-Synth Music.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/78911952″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]



I almost didn’t come to this show as I was afraid the Secret Show at the Horseshoe was going to be packed (Soft Moon). I ended up staying with my gut feeling and taking in Kontravoid. I’ve been describing his sound (one man) as a slightly darker with more electronics version of Depeche Mode. His live performance was great and exactly how I expected. He moved all over the stage while going back and forth to his electro keys and gadgets. I had the opportunity to go upstairs and watch as the BLK BOX has a 360 degree balcony.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/32913841″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

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Aaron McMillan

Aaron is the Founder / Chief Editor and curator of Indie Underground. He was the Festival / Music Director for the 2017 Dundas Street Festival and the Music Director in 2016. He is scene builder / promoter for select events in London Ontario, Toronto, Canada, and Southwestern Ontario. When Aaron's not working on Indie Underground, you'll usually find him at a concert or DIY event. He's a sucker for anything that glows in the dark and the company of his cat, Charlie. Watch for Aaron to make a return to DJing in 2018 when he will begin to mix Trance.