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NXNE 2015 Day 1: Red Bull Sound Select at Adelaide Hall

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NXNE 2015 Day 1: Red Bull Sound Select at Adelaide Hall


Photo by James Dallo

Who: Kate Tempest, Dillan Ponders, Allie (Red Bull Sound Select)
When: June 17, 2015
Where: Adelaide Hall, Toronto ON

A guy in all black rocking a full Yeezus kilt walks past me and greets his friends. Adelaide Hall’s second floor has been temporarily erased from existence by a ceiling of the ridged foam seen in recording studios, giving it the feel of a cramped club. The opening DJs are playing Fetty Wap. Everyone’s smiling.

Red Bull Sound Select is presenting a rap-themed night, attracting probably the largest clientele of industry types and journalists any NXNE venue might typically get (*Makonnen voice*) on a Wednesday. Admittedly, the long, slow line that is exclusive to media pass wearers diminishes any feeling that I’m shining on the ticket buyers.

Toronto’s DillanPonders is batting first, and his brand of dark, druggy, distinctly #6ixside rap doesn’t exactly work magic on the crowd. It’s quarter after 9 and I’m not sure if anyone’s really in the mood. After midnight, lines like “If drugs involved, you know I’m with it” would be effective, but no one really seems to be about that life here (although I do see someone rubbing their nose a bit after leaving the washroom).

More local repping comes from R&B vocalist Allie. Her set bumps, but it’s a chillout groove the whole way through. No one seems to mind because less volume means carrying on conversation without guilt as per the Toronto norm.

I chat briefly with Noisey Canada editor Slava Pastuk about our country’s lack of pride in its progressive (non-rock) musical artists. He says that it’s never been a better time to be a Canadian rapper or producer – it just took 50 years of pop music history for us to even be considered equal to the States in terms of coolness. However, he points to Allie as an example of the new kind of underground that Canada is breeding.

The possibility of a “Cool Canada” movement becomes something of a moot point when Kate Tempest takes the stage two minutes before (!!!!) 11. The South London rapper and poet is finishing her first-ever North American tour here, bringing her Mike Skinner-inspired chronicles of English youths to an audience that may not understand them. Even if her words don’t connect, the intensity with which she delivers them and the force of her live band definitely do. I’m near positive Kate Tempest has the hardest rap set I’ve seen in 2015.

The most remarkable moment happens early on. Tempest is performing “Marshall Law” a portrait of a bourgeoisie loft party where “everybody has got a hyphenated second name.” However, the song’s narrator chides herself, “Must stop being cynical/everybody here is a human/even these pitiful posturing pop stars and idiots.” It’s about a wrap party for a shitty rock video shoot, yeah, but the lyrics reflect the nature of the room in a general sense. There are no supreme hypebeasts or idiots here as far as I can see but the idea of going to a cool rap show remains appealing to Toronto crowds.

Tink, the night’s ostensible headliner, eventually comes on and slays the place like the preternatural star she is. I dip out during her set; I’m going to see her tomorrow anyways.


DillanPondersNXNE 2015Day 1, Wednesday, 17thRed Bull Sound Select ShowcasePhotos by: Dallojamez Media

Posted by The Scene Magazine on Monday, 22 June 2015

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