All throughout this week, Color contributor Aidan Johnston will be blogging daily from the NXNE Festival in Toronto. Make sure to check back everyday for great photos, stories and reviews from around the festival!
As I nudged my way through the cluttered gathering of people asking each other, “How was the show?” (a phrase that will be my dying words if I don’t make it through this week) it was evident that NXNE was fully underway. After the excitement over the sheer number of bands playing subsides, you’re just left with anxiety over which ones you’ll actually get to see. With so many acts happening simultaneously schedules start to conflict, making it harder than choosing between flavours of Perrier. A simple rule to play by is pick whatever band has the cutest undercut sporting guitarist, which is what led me to see Army Girls at Supermarket on Wednesday.
Comprised of Carmen Belle and Andy Smith, (Belle formerly of scene staples Austra; Smith of Heartbeat Hotel), Army Girls came together in 2010 to form a clash of raw guitars and drums with empty tall cans and broken hearts. During their performance, singer and guitarist Belle spoke in between songs about her love for Joni Mitchell and how breakups inspire her. She’s had three in the past few months, which makes me suspect she only dates guys to dump them when she needs a new song. Actually their stage banter is so on point I'm inspired to start my own band the ‘Banter’s’ who only take breaks from making observations about public transit to play short riffs in between.
When the duo launched into their new single ‘Twice” my attention was redirected back to the stage. It was gruff, loud and could probably get even the most conservative folks rowdy enough to pinch a candy from bulk barn. Softer tunes like “Cold & Alcohol” make the comparisons of the band to a grittier Land of Talk seem reasonable. For such an early set (playing the 9pm slot) they filled the large room with a rich energy, and had I been a few drinks deeper I’m sure I would’ve been raging at the front, hoping three months later I could inspire their next song.
Their new single is available for free download on their bandcamp page here http://armygirls.bandcamp.com/track/t-w-i-c-e
Army Girls continue to wail through NXNE Thursday 10pm @El Mocambo and Sunday afternoon as part of The Great Heart Festival in Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Aidan Johnston is your NXNE correspondent—biking, cabbing and crawling his way across Toronto to deliver coverage that's as unofficial as an after-party. Check back everyday and you might just find your new favourite band!