All Photos By Matt Williams
Reflect on your long, plentiful life thus far. What’s the chillest you’ve ever been? Was it maybe that time you did too many bong rips and inhaled so much weed your brain never worked the same? Maybe it was the time your appendix was about to totally explode and send your body into septic shock, but the doctors pumped so much morphine into your bloodstream that you actually started floating above your hospital bed, in complete euphoria. Or maybe you just fell asleep in the sun one day. Regardless, none of those things can directly compete with Real Estate's level of chill, which evens out at a game-changing height of relaxation.
NXNE is pretty rigorous. There are shows around the clock; from morning to afternoon, BBQs and everyone wants to stop and chat. And that’s always fun until you realize you haven’t drank any water in three days, your drink tickets have turned to dust, and your friends have disappeared to other parties and won’t be there to help keep you alive. That’s where Real Estate came in on Friday night at the Danforth Music Hall. After days of blistering sun, patios and late nights, they came in with a whisper, touching their fingers to the lips of their fans and telling them, “shhh. It’s okay. Just be.”
Bassist Alex Bleeker revealed after a few songs that it was singer and guitarist Martin Courtney’s birthday, at which point the crowd sort of quietly cheered but mostly stayed reserved. Real Estate’s tunes are so soothing, with their endless underwater guitar loops and tender vocals, that they had successfully brought the energy level of the whole hall down to a simmer. Almost in the way a Buddhist monk might stall certain bodily functions to the point where you’re not really sure if they’re alive or not. With their lush arrangements and sparkling guitars, they’re a lot like Wilco, if Wilco had none of the trademark Wilco edginess.
After a quick discussion amongst themselves, the band decided to opt out of the old “let’s leave the stage and wait for the crowd to cheer us back on” encore route, instead saying that they’d rather just play until their curfew, which was 11 o’clock: the same time many Real Estate fans might be used to falling asleep to their records. (That’s not a slight: Real Estate make perfect falling asleep records). They slowly and slowly swelled until we collectively, as an audience, forgot the stress and difficulty of our lives, and just chilled. We chilled so hard that for a moment, Toronto’s east end might’ve been the coolest spot on planet Earth.
Matt Williams is never that chill. - @MattGeeWilliams