Despite an auspicious start my trip to Toronto to cover North by Northeast (NXNE) music festival and North Ink Exposure (NIX) tattoo convention was quite informative and enjoyable. NIX was my second convention and I was to learn how to run the TAM booth from the boothmaster John, as well as interview tattooers and cover music at NXNE. We embarked on this trip with less than a full night of sleep between us, so by the time we made it to Canada we were what you might call, spent...
Rather than kick our shoes off and take a breather in the hotel room once we arrived, John and I both hit the ground running. John procured the booth after some confusion about location and commenced to setting up TAM shop. Fueled only by mediocre coffee and energy drinks, John had a fierce look of determination in his eyes. This man wasn't messing around, he had a job to do and nothing would stop him from that.
I set about getting my press credentials for NXNE music festival. NXNE is the Canadian equivalent to SXSW. The Bouncing Souls and Off! were scheduled to play that night. I had interviewed both bands and I needed to get photos to follow up the interviews. Once I had my press pass, I mapped out my weekend of music coverage.
The Bouncing Souls were scheduled to play first so I hoofed it across the grid city of Toronto to the venue. The walk was much longer yet more pleasant than I had anticipated. It was on that walk that I discovered the quirkiness of Toronto. I found myself quietly giggling at many sites along the street. By far, my favorite being the dress shop sign that showed not only a topless mermaid but her merman lover.
After almost an hour of walking, I made it to the venue. Inside was filled with mostly teens eager to crowd surf and mosh. The Bouncing Souls are a more happy than angry punk band. The kids in the room seemed to smile as they stage dove and shoved each other around.
After The Bouncing Souls, it was time to make it to the other side of town to cover Off!. This time, I took a cab and made it to the club in time to see the opening band C'Mon. I describe C'Mon as Canada's answer to Nashville Pussy. A three piece band deeply rooted in American Southern rock.
It was now time for Off! . Keith Morris once again reminded me of what punk rock is. The band Off! has an amazing ability to transport me to L.A. circa 1980. The proof of this transport could be felt by the old school "slam dancing" going on all around me.
I finally stumbled into my hotel room way past my bedtime. I had now been awake for well over 24 hours. I managed about six full hours of sleep but felt refreshed when I woke the next day. I was ready to get schooled in running the booth and I was eager to start video interviews with some of the amazing artists at NIX.
John booked several interviews for me throughout the day. One by one we got them in the booth and asked a series of questions, some serious and some funny. I got some great answers on both sides. The question asking what top three websites the person liked produced some interesting comments. The questions about Sailor Jerry and Ed Hardy gave me prolific and passionate responses.
After the end of a long day, John and I headed to "Sneaky Dee's" for dinner and some much deserved drinks. I partook in the national dish of Canada, poutine. Poutine could be described as the perfect companion food to drinking. It is traditionally, french fries, gravy and cheese curds. Mmmm, Canada….
The trip back to the hotel was entertaining as John and I watched the locals get silly drunk. In this time we witnessed a girls gone wild type flashing, a band playing in the back of a moving van and some interesting fashion choices.
Sunday was the day to really kick ass. Kick ass we did. John booked more interviews for me and ran the booth. I'm very new to the tattoo world, so I had to have a cheat sheet written on my hand as I walked around shooting stills and doing a video B-roll. The convention floor had a very busy energy. It seemed that everyone was working. I took it all in with big new eyes to this world....