The festival and the serendipitous after party...
Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
2Trip End Jun 15, 2008
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After saying goodbye to my dear, sweet, Karim, who is heading to Holland to live with his now-deported girlfriend, I retired early because I had to get going at 5:30 tomorrow morning! A very nice Indian couple who I found on the Ottawa U rideshare board were taking me to Toronto for North by Northeast! The craziest, most fantastic indie rock festival, this side of Texas.
Anan and his wife (I couldn't make out her name) dropped me off at the Scarborough Town Centre, so I took a bus straight downtown to the Holiday Inn (rockstar headquarters) to pick up my wristband. Note to self: don't bother ordering things on the internet anymore, the service charges are pointless. I could've saved $3 if I just bought my wristband there at the hotel
It took a while to get my wristband, but I got it finally, and casually walked around the hotel, looking for things that might lead to adventure. I picked up a huge schedule thingy, and perused the table. When lo and behold, what did I find? A stack of "invitations" to an after party tonight. 2-5 a.m. "drinks, food, DJ... admission with this invite only" Could this be a fabulous chance for spectacular late-night fun? I figured it wouldn't hurt to check it out after I was done bar hopping all evening.
I called Michelle up, to see where she was at, and she was far away. We decided to meet at the Eaton's Centre and shop, because her mom was in town. I'm not an Eaton's Centre kind of person, but I thought there was nothing going on at NXNE until night time anyway, so I went and met her there at 1 p.m. By the time I got there, I had perused the literature quite thoroughly and generally determined the course of my day. I realized that there were some free concerts (including Bran Van 3000, The John Henrys and Hollerado) just outside the Eaton's Centre going on all day. There was no way I was going to be shopping in the air conditioning after I found that out
Michelle wasn't disappointed when I told her I wouldn't be shopping, it was good to see her for two minutes. I wouldn't see her again for another hm...12 hours...
OK, so I went on over to the madly corporatized stage. It was called something like the "Rogers Molson PlayStation Hard Rock Cafe Now Magazine stage of fantastic fun-ness", I think... There were MONSTROUS waits between showtimes, the bands took forever to set up and take down their equipment. I think it had something to do with all the weird attention-grabbing activities you could participate in from the sponsors.
Anyway the Rogers crew had this leather couch set up under a tent and I didn't ask anybody, I just went down and sat on it. The plasticky girls and uber-cool guys didn't say a word to me, until about the third band finished their set and I came over again after dancing in the sun all tired and sweaty
"Are you a Rogers customer?"
"The tent is only for Rogers customers."
"Well I could be a Rogers customer at home."
"No, I mean cellphone customer"
"How do you know I'm not a Rogers cellphone customer? I could just say yes, and just sit on the couch."
Holier than thou black dude, with lots of bling and dark Raybans: "Do you even have a cellphone?"
"Oh that's a shame"
"No, it's not."
Blonde girl: "Whatever."
It was hilarious
At about 5 p.m. I had an hour to kill before the next band came on, so I walked around Yonge St. for a while. There was a REALLY captivating preacher guy on the street. He first caught my eye, because he was
2) really clean
3) didn't look like he belonged in a homeless shelter or insane asylum
He made me stay because he NEVER STOPPED TALKING. He just went on and on about repenting and giving yourself to Jesus etc. etc. etc. He never repeated himself once, and he never stopped to say "um" or anything, ever. It was insane. I videotaped it just for you. After he was finished I gave him a hug, and told him to stop feeling guilty about everything, because he was all hung up on going to hell, and punishing himself for lusting after women etc. etc. etc. Just let it go, brothah. His friend Paul came by so I asked if I could hang out with them and talk Christianity for a while. It was interesting.
I told them to come with me and dance all night to the bands in the park, but I'm pretty sure they don't believe in dancing either
Why didn't I stay at the free stage? I'll tell you. A HORRIBLE HORRIBLE R&B group came on next. Literally, the music was hurting my ears. By then, it was about 8 p.m., so I headed on down to the Rivoli, and gave up all hope of seeing Bran Van 3000 ever again. It was probably my last chance, ever. Later, I heard they sang Drinking in L.A. first, and then everybody left right after that anyway.
I didn't regret going to the Rivoli, it was really really good. There was a Jamiroquai like guy, Warren Flandez, who was awesome. Then my favourite banjo player Old Man Luedecke hit the stage, followed by Matthew Barber, my second choice after Bran Van 3000 for the entire festival. Managing to make it to two out of three favourite shows ain't bad.
I left the Rivoli to go to the Bovine Sex Club, a couple kms down the street. I ran into a guy with an anti-pickle shirt that I thought Mike would like, so I took a picture just for him. You better be reading this!
The BSC was packed and I bounced around for a while to Clothes Make the Man, another band I had never seen, but really wanted to in the last few years
Luckily, it was 2 a.m., time for the Now Magazine after party. At first I walked right past, because I saw the sign that said "Private Party" and thought, nahhhh that's not for me. But then I looked at the address, and yeah, it was right. So I gave the guy my little invite thing and went right in (after being hassled for carrying around a big backpack). There were a couple of people in there, so I ordered a Steamwhistle.
"How much is it?"
"It's open bar, hun" the bartender said.
"Oh, OK then! Thanks!"
I sat right down beside a nice looking older fellow and a Spanish dude. This turned out to be the general manager of Now Magazine and a delivery guy I guess he was taking care of, helping him learn English and that sort of thing. So instinctively, I go into schmooze mode. "Here, take my card, if you ever want an editor, I know In Design, blahblahblah"... I don't know if I would even TAKE a job at Now, but I couldn't let the opportunity slide, you know?
There was also free food, and all I had to eat was granola bars all day, so I scarfed down a couple of yummy avocado sandwiches, and before I know it, Gary, a really old guy who used to be in the legendary rock band, The Monks sat down beside me
As I mentioned above, I hadn't had much to eat and I was out in the sun all day. This combined with unlimited wine and Jagermeister shots with semi-rockstars did not make for a mellow evening. I saw Dave Foley, and loudly made fun of him because he's now fat and ugly and hitting on everything that moves.
This is how our conversation went:
"Is this the line for the drinks?"
"Yes, I believe so, but it's pretty haphazard at the moment."
"OK, thanks Dave Foley"
By the time the night was over, I passed out, and was woken up by the bartender lady, who was shoving $15 and a water bottle in my hand, telling me to take a cab home. I was adamant that I would take the bus, but she shoved me into the taxi and told me to go home. DUNDAS AND RUNNYMEDE I yelled at the cab driver. He took me there, and I went straight to bed. Michelle and Brendan are AWESOME for letting me stay over so late at night.
All I have to say is, I had the real indie rockstar experience at NXNE. Yes I did, that goes without saying.