The Shop at Parts & Labour played host to three very different bands on the first night of NXNE:
Halifax’s Cold Warps, the first act at The Shop at Parts & Labour kicked the night off right with their upbeat, Ramones-style three-chorders. Most of their pop tunes clocked in at the sweet spot between two and three minutes, and got friends and fans doing the pogo on a Wednesday night.
It took this Montreal three-piece a few songs to get comfortable, but a young man dancing his heart out helped draw the crowd toward them. The band barked could-have-been-improvised lyrics over phased guitar and bass leads derived at times from krautrock, at others from blues riffs. Although the band’s dancing fan generally outshone them (he had some serious moves), they were enjoying themselves and demonstrated the potential to become more captivating performers.
New York’s K-Holes, headliners for the night, played self-described “dirges” that snarled and stomped. “This one’s a song about rats. It’s called, ‘Rats,’” Jack Hines, the guitarist (and former member of the Black Lips) announced, cueing locomotive power chords. The punk pace of the single required the band to bash it out quickly, and the song was immediately followed by a sprawling, psychedelic jam. Vocalist Vashti Windish wielded maracas and Hines moved his microphone into the middle of the crowd. Although the addition of a saxophonist to the band at times simply added to the drone of K-Hole’s sound, in general, it amplified the variety of their material and made it more melodic. All in all, this versatile band continues to draw many influences from punk’s oeuvre and plays them all cranked up to eleven. Bring earplugs if you see them.