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The Varsity

The University of Toronto's
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NXNE Day 4: The Varsity’s Guide to a Week of Rock

Hardcore rock, the rap that ticked off Fox News, and an on-stage wardrobe change

By Damanjit Lamba and Nathan Watson
Published: 5:27 pm, 18 June 2012
Modified: 8 pm, 25 August 2012
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The Flaming Lips performed to a packed Yonge-Dundas Square Saturday night. RYAN KELPIN/THE VARSITY
UPDATED

There was plenty of defiance and verve on show on the fourth night of the fest:

Ceremony — Wrongbar

LA-based hardcore rockers Ceremony left a strong impression on an unsuspecting audience Saturday night. In the final stages of setup, the lead guitarist decided to turn the stage into a changing room as he slowly took off his t-shirt and slipped into a black studded vest, all the while winking at the young women at the foot of the stage. You can’t blame a guy for trying, especially since Ceremony’s hometown performances are dominated by young, suburban boys who live for hard rock shows. The band lunged into motion with thrashing guitar riffs and screeching vocals, sparking a devotee mosh pit-storm that was so abrupt, it resulted in a few girls instantly falling to the floor. Those less acquainted with Ceremony got as close to the band as possible, in an effort to watch hardcore purists do their thing. —DL

 

Prince Innocence — Silver Dollar

Prince Innocence, comprised of Josh McIntyre (Little Girls) and his Montreal sweetheart Talvi Faustmann, is a new addition to Toronto’s coldwave scene. McIntyre’s eyes closed as he swayed along to his minimal bass and drum beats. Faustmann seemed a bit nervous onstage, but her voice was on point as she sang her drowning-yourself-in-wine lyrics: “Girls, do you hear me? You’ll lose everything someday… Beauty is just a pretense. Still, it’s all that you need.” The duo’s EP, Night People, is only three tracks strong, so the set ended sooner than fans would’ve liked. But the set list really emphasized Prince Innocence’s mastery of gently paced synth-pop doused in dark subject matter. —DL

 

Hollerado — Yonge-Dundas Square

After taking some time off from touring to record a full-length follow-up to Record in a Bag, Hollerado brought their festival-friendly rock songs to the headlining stage at Yonge and Dundas. You might recognize their upbeat anthem “Juliet” from a few Canadian commercials. Like that song, most of Hollerado’s numbers excel in their accessibility. The band’s songs have memorable choruses, catchy riffs, and call-and-response vocals. Several times during the set, the band, all smiles, instructed the audience to sing along with the lyrics: “Are your singing voices ready? You’ve got no choice!” New material fleshed out the band’s familiar set list, adding jamming breakdowns in between the straightforward singles. Hollerado have a fun live set, and their next album is something to look forward to. —NW

 

Killer Mike — Wrongbar

Killer Mike is a rapper who has pledged allegiance to the grind. Starting his career as a member of Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon All Stars crew, Mike began to experiment with changing industry dynamics and pursuing his own identity on the underground mixtape scene. Since then, Killer Mike has consistently put out intense, intelligent rap releases. On his latest album R.A.P. Music, Mike vehemently declares, “I don’t make dance music, this is R.A.P./Opposite of that sucker shit they play on T.V.”

Killer Mike triumphantly took to the stage at his headlining showcase at Wrongbar and held the audience in the palm of his hand. The crowd was bouncing, and by the end, crowd surfing. Before launching into a song that declared his distaste for Ronald Reagan, Mike recounted how his mother once called to tell him that Fox News personalities were not impressed with his song. When Mike asked his mom what she thought, she said, “Fuck Ronald Reagan.” The entire audience lifted their middle fingers in agreement.

Mike’s set list relied heavily on his new album, but to everyone’s delight, it also included OutKast’s “The Whole World,” the first single he rapped on, as well as his verse from Bonecrusher’s “I Ain’t Ever Scared,” and Purple Ribbon’s smash “Kryptonite.” Throughout, Mike felt the energy, telling the audience that he was having the time of his life. —NW