Stylus vs. NXNE – Day 4: Patrick Takes Heed

By Patrick Michalishyn

I woke up late in the morning (early afternoon) in pain from rocking out too hard at the Astro-man? show last night. Shit, where’s the Robaxacet? No time to write, the only panel I cared to see was starting in two hours, across town at the Hyatt.

The panelists:
Henry Owings of the (in)famous Chunklet mag, Drug Racer Records, graphic designer (and it goes on and on).
Damian Abraham of Fucked Up, new dad, all around nice guy.
Nick Flanagan, moderator, singer of the Brutal Knights, comedian, and recent cripple (a skin-puncturing compound fracture that he got while performing. So punk!!)

The panel: “All of the Other Panels at NXNE Are WRONG.” The purpose: debunk all of the shit that every other panel tells you you need: “Finding a manager,” “The 360 Deal,” “Making a name for yourself,” and other horse-hooey that “the biz” says is a must when you want to start a band. Passion and the want to make music is the most important thing. Everything else you can pretty much do yourself. Yeah, EVERYTHING. Promote yourself, book your own shows, manage your cash, release your own records, get distro deals. EVERYTHING! The message was loud and clear from the get-go, but the three had 55 minutes left to make their point. Well…

Almost immediately, Damian took over moderating duties from Nick. Nick would jump in with random ridiculous comments and Henry would claim that they “knocked that one out of the park.” Three guys who know their shit, know what’s bullshit (almost everything) and aren’t afraid to mince words or take the piss out of anyone/thing that needs it. With a heap of humour. The panel was absolutely hilarious. Essentially three friends riffing off of each other and the list of names of the other panels. Sadly, the idea that was being bounced around before the panel started was that Damian, with wireless microphone, was going to crash other panels and report live from other rooms why they were bullshit. We even tested the range! It all boiled down to what the Big Boys ended their concerts with: “Go start your own band!”

I would’ve gone home and wrote about the previous day and got my reports in on time, but I got the option to go out for food and beer and record shopping with Henry, so I chose that instead. No brainer, right? Big geek, bigger heart, I love that man.

That night I made my way down to Dundas Square for the big free shows. I made it in time (and to the front) for the Raveonettes. I missed them when they came to Winnipeg, and it would’ve probably been more fun without the drunk douchebags who were waiting for The Stooges, but they put on a fantastic show. Thunderous noise comes from their drummer, with just a pair of mallets, a snare, a tom, a tambourine and a cymbal. Holy moly, and the fuzz and noise and the requisite waves of feedback. They sounded fantastic. “Ali Walk With Me” and “Love in aA Trashcan” got the biggest reactions, and the four sounded bigger than their minimalist set up would’ve left you expecting.

By the time the Stooges came out, the crowd was in a frenzy, and as soon as Iggy popped out of nowhere, all hell broke loose. People got violent, and me and my concert buddy spent the first two songs trying to get out of the block-wide pit. Annie, my show buddy, lost her shoes in the first 30 seconds. We eventually found Damian and tried to get backstage, but the Iggy crew actually made everyone get off sidestage and watch from the far-off back corners of the stages. So, Iggy sounded fantastic, looked great from far away, but it got too stupid to be any fun. Also, there was a “secret” Man… or Astro-man? set at Sneaky Dee’s. Seeing them twice in two nights? Yes, please!

Annie had never heard of Astro-man? before and I’d talked her out of her plans to come see this fantastic band. Both of us hung out with Coco (Rob) and Star Crunch (Brian C.) for about an hour before the show and Coco gave Annie his pass so she could get in. This was to be more insane than last night’s slot with Mudhoney.

They came out in matching orange spacesuits and blasted off! The set list tonight was:

Escape Velocity
Maximum Radiation Level
9 Volt
Inside The Atom
Evil Plans Of Planet Spectra
Lo Batt.
Principles Unknown
Destination Venus
Put Your Finger In The Socket
Aunt’s Invasion (Shadowy Men cover)
U-Uranus (not played due to time constraints)
Television Fission (not played due to time constraints)
Special Agent Conrad Uno

It is sweaty magic at a MoAM? show. Coco eventually changed out in to a silver spacesuit with space helmet and rocked the theremin. Played it with the fervor of Chuck Berry on the guitar. He held it out to me and Annie in the front row and we played along for a chunk of song. He pulled it back and lit the theremin ON FIRE and continued to play it! Fuck! Birdstuff (Brian T.) would randomly give away pieces of his drumkit or stage props because he didn’t need/want them, leaving one audience member holding a heavy-ass cymbal (complete with stand) over his head a whole song. Tonight Coco’s B.T.B. interface wasn’t working, so no samples could be played before the songs. The set ended too quickly, but that only meant the Tesla Coil was about to be brought out. Stage crew held us back at an appropriate distance while purple lightning fired off in all directions. Birdstuff gave me the space-dome from the front of the stage and walked away. Annie had the time of her life. I said all my goodbyes. This was the Saturday night I had been hoping for.