by Nilabjo Banerjee


The company that gives you wings also wants you to listen to quality local music while enjoying their energy beverage. That is fine by me! Sound Select is Red Bull’s new initiative pumping up the local music scenes across North America (and eventually the world) with monthly events. NXNE was the launching pad for the Toronto chapter with shows through the week featuring Toronto acts with international headliners.

Saturday’s night lineup featured Future Islands as the headliner.


Toronto trio Paradise Animals got the night started off to a groovy start. Mark Andrade’s vocals leaned more to a monotonous lower tenor in the initial songs, which was bit of a drone at times. The latter songs had more breathing room for Andrade’s voice, which was a pleasant surprise. The packed house was getting down with the band’s songs that sounded like a mix of M83 and Yo La Tengo at times. Set highlights were Vitamin C”, a CAN’s cover and an EDM infused dance number as the set closer where a cowbell made an appearance. If you weren’t letting lose at that point, you were missing out.


You can add Laurel to the list of female singers with single-word monikers. But, she aint just another name. She has gained notoriety with her cinematic pop sounds through songs like “Fire Breather” and “To The Hills”. The singer was a tad bit startled with the more than expected attendance. “I thought I would be playing to an empty room”, gushed the 20-year-old Brit. Not only was the packed room receptive to her piercing sensual vocals, few in the front row were even mouthing the words as well. Not too bad for only her 2nd gig in Canada eh.


Maylee Todd has several artistic personas, and if you enjoy one, chances are you will enjoy em all. Why? Because, all have Maylee’s ‘not afraid to get weird’ approach to making music and performances. Ark Analog’s set was no different. Her distinct attire aside, Maylee’s carefree energy was in full mode, along with Dan Werb, the other half of the duo, getting his groove on as well. Set highlight was the distorted vocal loops in “Ride The Fall” that probably had most of the crowd feeling like they were on acid. (No prior experience there, just a hunch)


The overcrowded Tattoo roared as Future Islands’ Sam Herring (and co.) delved into songs from a setlist written on his hand. Now, that is rock’n roll right? Herring, notorious for his chest pounding and ‘cookie monster’ vocals, was his usual unpredictable self. Sometimes a graceful host, he thanked the Toronto faithful for showing up and sympathetic to those stuck outside.  And then, he returns to death metal growls and punk rock intensity. Whether you are a fan pre or post Letterman, you have to admit he is the biggest ascending attribute to making Future Islands in the list of bands you must see live. Without him, they are just an average synthpop band making above-average indie rock songs.


Unfortunately, I had to leave right after the set due to claustrophobia. I am sure Mac DeMarco had a fantastic set. I am sure other media outlets/blogs can back me here.