Stylus vs. NXNE – Day 3: Patrick in the Pit

By Patrick Michalishyn
All right, so I said I’d write for Stylus about my NXNE experience. And I did — eventually. As any reader of this fine publication would understand, when you have the chance to meet, hang out, befriend a musical hero, you take that chance. And on this trip I did. I’ve had some time to collect my thoughts and refine my writing in the “cool off” days following. I hope ya dig! – Patrick

Rumoured shows are wonderful… when they actually happen. There was a rumour that at this house-party/BBQ George Stroumboulopoulos would show up, that Broken Social Scene would all come, and that they’d be dragging along Pavement for a secret set. I decided to check it out. Even if none of that happened, the beer is free.

I make it down, pay my cover and go get a beer. Four bucks! So much for free. Estranged friend Chris Nelson (former “Going Coastal” guy) tells me that Strombo is on a motorcycle down to L.A., and the other two rumours are definitely just that.

I missed Sebastien Grainger’s new band Bad Tits, but I was told they put on a stellar living room show. I couldn’t tell you who else played though… the bassist from the Constantines has a new band and might’ve mentioned that the ‘Tines have run their course (exclusive!). Eventually we left that off-Vice party and headed for the Horseshoe for the Chunklet show.

Poison Arrows had just started when I got there. As I made my way to the front of the stage, I ran into Henry “Chunklet Magazine” Owings and four members of Man… Or Astro-man? (who I’ve loved and collected for over tenyears now). And they were all the nicest guys ever. Fan-boner!

Anyway, Poison Arrows and Wussy were on before MoAM? Poison Arrows managed to get out only one song (but goddamn, was it a good one!) before the power around the block cut out. During the blackout, I met most of Man… or Astro-man? and it was a dream come true. And they’re super nice to boot! Sonic Youthy guitars underneath deep-voiced man/sweet girl vocal back ‘n’ forth singing, kinda like a more ramshackle Yo La Tengo. Good enough that I actually sought out their MySpace and will probably order all of their stuff.

Then came the main attraction (for me, anyway): Man… or Astro-man?! Coco, Starcrunch, Birdstuff and Victor Vector were in fantastic after almost a decade of not playing together. Set list for tonight? Well, I grabbed it!

Television Fission
Put Your Finger In The Socket
Escape Velocity
Invasion Of The Dragonmen
Lo Batt.
Inside The Atom
Evil Plans Of Planet Spectra
Aunt’s Invasion (Shadowy Men cover)
9 Volt
Maximum Radiation Level
Man Made Of CO2
Principles Unknown

I’ve been listening to Man… or Astro-man? for about a decade. I’ve ingested their albums regularly since I first heard “Of Sex and Demise” (mislabeled on Napster as a Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet song). And now I’m seeing them! After meeting them!! Nothing had disappointed me yet, and nothing would: Coco’s bouncing around like an atomic particle, grinning like a child, Star Crunch is a guitar wizard and his voice has that perfect punk grit that I try to emulate, and Birdstuff with his John Mayer-playing-the-guitar face (goofy faces, but you know he’s feelin’ it). I looked at my neighbor and when I looked back up, I had this flaming theremin in front of me. It looked and sounded like a crashing UFO! After the last track, they rolled out the theremin and kicked the mic stands down for good measure. You could smell the ozone (not good for you, but it smelled kinda nice). Holy wow.

Well, that powerout after Poison Arrows had really pushed back the start times of the bands, and by the time Mudhoney went on, it was 2:15 a.m. (at least). Some  dude started throwing himself around and pissing people off, so the Horseshoe turned into a shoving match. I was headbanging to Mudhoney (strained my neck and back) before the pit became stinky and unbearable. Stayed for 1/3 of the Mudhoney set. It was really fun. But I had seen who I’d come to see, heard a new band that I’m really interested in hearing more of, and met some of my personal heroes. Thanks, Horseshoe!