With the NXNE season coming to a close in Toronto, I was fortunate enough to catch Dreamers and Grounders- no, these are not abstract Ted-talk concepts- on Thursday night at Sneaky Dees. Hailing from Brooklyn, Dreamers’ frontman Nick Wold quipped that his band was playing in Canada for the first time, and evidently they had little trouble bringing their onslaught of guitars and soaring choruses through customs. Wold sometimes enlisted a loop pedal to reproduce his serrated, often single string guitar riffs, but other than that Dreamers are a punk-via-indie (or indie-via-punk?) three piece that sees all members sharing vocal duties.

Next on the bill was Grounders, who enjoyed a crowd that had been thickening since midway through Dreamers’ set. Grounders are part of a group of indie-leaning Toronto stalwarts that make up the bread and butter of NXNE, bringing a democratic, layered sound to the midnight hour upstairs at Sneaky Dees. The omnipresent, sustained guitar blasts courtesy of Evan Lewis may impress a sense of aimlessness into their songs, but it becomes apparent that frontman Andrew Davis maintains a handle on the reins. Tame Impala comparisons are perhaps warranted; they often privilege atmosphere over lyrics in the mix and establish thick grooves to play off of over the course of the song. And that isn’t to detract from the Toronto band at all; they are right at home in this year’s crop of compelling Canadian acts. Judging by the NXNE crowd’s response to Secret Friend, the band known as Grounders can also hit singles on a major league diamond.

Check them out!

-Ben Swan

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