NXNE Review: Vallens, Crosss, Jazz Cartier23 June 2015 / by Jonathan Rodil (author)
The spotlight on Toronto music was in full effect during NXNE. There was an abundance of local talent throughout the entire festival that had appeal to musical tastes of all kinds. While the following list is not definitive by any means, it highlights a few diverse Toronto acts that spoke truth to the quality of music coming out of the city.
I stumbled across Vallens through the NXNE app. The brief description mentioned Twin Peaks and the music consisting of “heavy guitars and ethereal”, so I thought they might be worth checking out over at The Silver Dollar Room. They were. It occurred to me then during the performance that Vallens is a band that needs to be heard. Their music brings forth a mystic aura that captures attention. Everything about their music blended in seamlessly in maintaining a hazy, drifting aesthetic. Head nods came naturally and this lends to the accessibility of the music. Often times, there is some form chatter going on, regardless of the size of the crowd. This wasn’t the case for the small set in attendance, where people actually listened and were engrossed in the music. Vallens is a definitely a band to look out for.
I arrived at Smiling Buddha a bit early before Un Blonde’s performance to catch Crosss, the four piece psych-metal band that pushes through the boundaries of sound. I heard Lo, their second album, and was interested in hearing them live. Crosss performed and delivered a visceral set that thrashed the senses. The sludgy, scorching guitars revealed an imminent sense of doom. I came away from the performance, ears ringing but this temporary side effect was worth overlooking to witness the raw, unrelenting force that is Crosss.
The Danforth Music Hall packed with fans of all ages for Jazz Cartier’s hometown showcase. The set began as a projection on stage previewed various movie clips and introduced Jazz Cartier. He’s a gifted, high-energy, natural performer. It’s evident in the way he came out, looking like he was already in flight, having no need for take-off. The audience was a roaring one, lively and full of energy throughout. They were quite familiar with the music, recited songs word for word without any slippage. Jazz’s baritone voice meshes with the booming production with ease. He flows through introspective and aggressive moments like on “Rose Quartz” and “Dead or Alive”, making sure to not limit his dimensions as an artist. He’s a talent that’s for sure, shining the light even brighter on the Toronto hip-hop scene.