Crocodiles at The Silver Dollar, Toronto; NXNE 2011 – Gig review and photos

June 30, 2011
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Crocodiles’ frontman Brandon Welchez joined on stage by Dee Dee from the Dum Dum Girls

The Gig: Fuck Montreal, The BB Guns and Crocodiles
Where: El Mocambo and Silver Dollar, Toronto, Ontario
When: 17 June 2011
In One Word: Subversive

Movie and music festivals are often hit-and-miss.  While you always hope for it, it’s rare that a night will start strong and just get better as you go.  As it happened, things were aligned just so for me on the Friday of NXNE.

I began the night at the El Mocambo to see a band solely based on its name – Fuck Montreal.  Normally, I’m not into eccentric, experimental music but this somewhat nerdy looking group floored me. Band members switched instruments and vocals through a set where the catchiness and groove of the songs balanced out the distortion and subversive tone. Singer Jenna Empey has the kind of high pitchy girlish voice that would normally drive people nuts, but it somehow works with the music.  The disturbing “Knife Fuck” with the lyrics “I would be the devil just to possess you; make you scream and talk in tongues and fuck you with a knife” is a case in point. Fuck Montreal look like as wholesome as the Waltons but their songs could’ve been written by the Children of the Corn.

Following Fuck Montreal’s set, I headed over to The Silver Dollar where I planted myself for the rest of the night. The first band I saw was the The BB Guns from Toronto. With their hair and clothing inspired by various eras, this mostly female band performed fun punk songs that had their own late 70s/early 80s retro feel.  I would describe them as bubble gum punk, but in a good way.  The BB Gun’s line up included guitrist Clint Rogerson, who is also a member of Action Makes.  While Rogerson stood in the background during their set, he had a completely different presence when his own band came on. The guy is intense! With moves that bore hints of Iggy Pop, he led the band towards an increasingly frenzied set full of charged songs like “Berlin” and “Pleasant Hymn Pt. 2”, a song about “jerking off at the cemetery.”

Action Makes pumped up the crowd for the San Diego band, Crocodiles, in their second of three hyped up, headlining nights.  Lead singer Brandon Welchez moved about the stage full of attitude and bluster as he performed songs such as “Hearts of Love,” which was clearly influenced by the Jesus and Mary Chain. Welchez was swagger personified, his look amplified by the black lipstick mark by one of the girls who joined him on stage; one of these girls being Dee Dee of the Dum Dum Girls who danced on stage early in the set (Welchez is married to Dee Dee).  The crowd, by now a sweaty mess, completely ate it up. The rest of the band were nothing to scoff at either. Although all the eyes were on Welchez, the feet were jumping up and down to Charles Rowell’s guitar, especially during “Stoned to Death.” Newly added band members Anna Schulte (from The Slits) on drums, Marco Gonzalez on bass and Robin Eisenberg on keyboards also brought energy to the songs.  Now that the duo are a five piece, it will be exciting to see what the next studio offering will be.  I’ll definitely be looking forward to it.

© Renee Saviour, Music Vice

Pictures of Fuck Montreal, The BB Guns, Action Makes and Crocodiles:

Renee Saviour

activist, teacher, book lover, music zealot

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