Thank god for NXNE for making my Friday night last week as perfect as the weather outside. This was my first visit to The Danforth Music Hall and Real Estate with Amen Dunes was the perfect way to experience it. If you’re one of these people who waits ’til Fathers Day to declare summer official, (even though its been boiling since May) then a trip to the Danforth this Saturday might have had you re-thinking everything, especially after witnessing the view of the city, at sunset, from Riverdale Park on the streetcar over. The hall is like many old music halls; the large open floor space, raised balcony seating and Victorian décor. It’s the sloped floor space that differentiates it from any other venue I’ve ever been in, I almost felt like I was stepping back outside as I entered into the cool hall. I wondered as the night went on how anyone could be on the raised balcony, with everyone bouncing around below you, and still sit upstairs.
We arrived as Amen Dunes took to the stage and the band from New York helped to perfectly set the scene for what was to come later with Real Estate. This was singer songwriter Damon McMahon‘s second performance at NXNE, as Amen Dunes played at The Berkeley Church the previous day as part of a Pitchfork showcase. Playing songs from both their latest record and the six track EP Cowboy Worship that was put out in January as an extension of the record Love, released back in 2014. If Real Estate are the sounds of a summer in the suburbs; Amen Dunes are the twilight hours of those summer nights, with a languid and almost melancholic sound it is maybe the perfect music for the end of the night. It wasn’t out of place here though as an opener, as a mellow band from New York followed by a mellow band from New Jersey perfectly suited the Toronto summer night.
Real Estate took the stage for the first time in Toronto since their show last March at the Opera House, just after the release of the album, Atlas. I’d never seen Real Estate before, in fact I’d never even heard of them until I came over to Canada: the band doesn’t have a very large following in England and I’ve never heard them on the radio, probably because we never come close to a summer as perfect as the one taking place in every Real Estate song. They were everything you’d imagine them to be live; relaxed and effortless, it’s music to shuffle and bop along to or if you’re like the guy dancing in front of me, I learned that you can even go crazy. Playing songs from Atlas and classics such as ”It’s Real” and ”Green Aisles”, the band meandered gracefully between songs and lamented with us over the fact that they couldn’t play all night as the clock got closer to 11. You might wonder if watching them, coupled with Amen Dunes on the same bill, might leave you feeling a bit sleepy and ready to either head home or to a quiet bar come the end of the show. This, thankfully wasn’t the case but I certainly needed something livelier afterwards. I was thinking at points throughout the gig that it must take so much effort to sound so chilled all of the time. Real Estate have perfected the art of down to a tee, though, and after slowly bopping my way through a New Jersey summer soundtrack, I was ready to go a bit crazy at one of the NXNE late shows happening throughout the city.