Stylus vs. NXNE – Day 5: Patrick Goes Full Circle

By Patrick Michalishyn

So we get these emails every morning giving us the highlights of the day for NXNE. While Iggy Pop was this years’ “headliner” and De La Soul were closing out the night at the big free stage, I heard about show that happens every week in Toronto, a band who takes up a monthly residency at a different bar, playing only covers, some straight ahead, others mutated and mashed up with other known songs. The band’s name is Ancient Chinese Secret.

Ancient Chinese Secret is the latest band featuring the man who started the whole music geek in me running: Mr. Brian Connelly of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet fame. And this was not your standard show. Brian, the nicest, most modest, fun and self-depricating musician-type that I’ve ever met, he and his band set up at the front of this tiny pub and just play. They don’t really talk until they announce they’re going to take a break between sets. Not looking for anything but to play to whoever’ll listen and have a beer when they rest their hands.

Brian, the sweetheart, heard I’d be coming down and brought me an envelope of free stuff, including the self-released third Atomic 7 album and a homemade poster. The man is the posterchild for DIY, pretty much made it to where he is with his skill, humour, and close friends.

The music was fantastic. Mixing up “Jesus Christ Superstar” with “What’s New, Pussycat?” is an example of the fun they pump into their music. Along with Mark Duff and Rob Clarke, ACS play the most dancingest, funnyest, eclecticest rock and roll this side of your cousin’s Winnipeg social. Playing to all of 15 people at the most at one time, I was planted at the front for all three sets. I whooped and hollered and clapped like a madman. And they treated me with as much respect and reverence as I did them.

And so it came full circle: I come to the big city to see music and maybe meet some of my heroes. Music that I fell in love with in my early teens, the excitement of hearing new bands spread like the new rings of a spider’s web. And here I was, ending the week with the man who kicked-started this whole thing. This is what it’s all about. Thank you and goodnight!