Here we are a week later, and still reminiscing about North by North East. The massive multi-venued fest may be over but the musical adventures will never be forgotten.
The first stop of this soiree began at the beloved Dakota Tavern where Blackie Jackett Jr were starting up their 9pm set. This band may be 20% Finger Eleven but they are 100% good ol’ honky tonk. The contrast between the musical alter egos was striking, but by the blissful expressions on James Black’s and Rick Jackett’s faces, you could tell they were right at home playing country tunes. And as a result their sound was perfectly suited to the Dakota. Jackett traded in his Wildman guitarist ways for a stool and a banjo while Black donned a western shirt to play country-blues anthem “Married to the highway.” Sweet-voiced songbird Sandra Dee paid tribute to the iconic miss Dolly Parton with a wonderful cover of “Jolene”. The band closed their set with a massive singalong to “Whiskey and Tears” to rousing applause, and surely converted more than one fest-goer into a diehard fan for life.
Continuing along Ossington, the dulcet tones of Grey Kingdom could be heard coming from the eccentric bar The Painted Lady. Playing the role of hipster minstrel, Spencer Burton bantered playfully with his audience, beckoning them closer to the stage. A countrified Dallas Green, Burton melodic voice and twangy guitar serenaded and seduced the bar patrons. His set was casual and relaxed, quiet enough that you could chat with your friends, but mesmerizing enough to make you forget what you wanted to say.
From solo folk roots to 6-piece pop rock, the musical mission of the evening moved onto The Silver Dollar to see Vancouver’s Chains of Love. The sexy, mod looking female fronted band greeted the full house with an apology on behalf of their city (an apology that was echoed by many other Vancouverite acts), and moved right onto musical redemption. With beautiful harmonies and rockin bluesy guitar, Nathalia Pizarro and Rebecca Marie Grey Law showed what would have happened if Robert Palmer had let his ladies front the band. Hard and edgy with sass and style, Chains of Love proved that while Vancouver may disappoint at hockey, they more than make up for it with awesome music.
Decade spanning influenced rock was waiting at the Hideout on Queen west at 1am, as supergroup Bastard took the stage in a cloud of fog and awesomeness. Ugly, Dirty, Lucky and Slick, every bastard for himself. The gritty foursome is made up of rock veterans and it shows in their swagger, their confidence, and most of all in their killer live performance. Playing songs from their charmingly titled debut release Up Yours, their show was unapologetically loud, rowdy and a great way to end a Thursday night of NXNE.