So this is my first time actually attending NXNE, and one of the things I really wanted to check out was the Bruise Cruise. In its first year Ty Segall performed, the following year Mikal Cronin performed, and last year Mac Demarco curated it.

I really didn’t know what to expect, but in my experience, if an event has something to do with the French speaking part of the country, you check it out. The French seem to have everything figured out.

Now I was in pretty rough shape in the morning, mostly because I was at Pet SunChastity and Dead Broke‘s sets at The Silver Dollar the night before. Waking up on my friend’s couch, it becomes apparent to me that if I want to make the boarding time at noon, I’m not going to have time to eat breakfast. I take the streetcar to the Harbourfront Centre, and find myself semi-frantically looking for where the hell the boat is. Luckily enough I run into someone who’s also on their way to the cruise, who just happens to be Michael Rault.

Michael Rault is pretty much the headlining act for the Bruise Cruise. Signed to uber-cool California label Burger Records, he’s also from Edmonton, Alberta; which is the home base for other lo-fi geniuses like Sean Nicholas Savage and Mac Demarco. Bruise Cruise has a gained a minor reputation for hosting acts like this, before they ascend to stardom.

As we get on the boat, I’m starving, and I’m looking desperately around for any food there may be. In front of me is a giant Tim Hortons bag of half-eaten bagels, which have never before looked so tempting.

By the time I exchange my second drink ticket and my first ice-cream ticket, Ponctuation had started playing. It’s loud, fuzzy, garage rock that’s soaked in reverb and slap-back delay. These guys pretty much sound like Thee Oh Sees, in fact, they are shockingly similar to Thee Oh Sees. The guitar tone is pretty much identical, and aside from the fact that they were singing in French, the vocals had the same kind of inflection. They were good, yet the similarities were almost a bit uncomfortable.

Following was an act that was a big step in another direction. Though a number of us on the boat were all hung over from the night before, Dead Obies managed to get the crowd bumping again. A rag tag bunch of rappers from Montreal (there were 6 of them plus a DJ) they took to the stage with an impressive gusto. Passing verses around, each rapper (which went between French and English) would have 5 hype men behind him. I don’t really go to hip hop shows, but I couldn’t help not feeling impressed. They ended the set with their song “Tony Hawk” which had us screaming along to a nonsensical hook of “Taylor Swift/Ryan Gosling”.

Dead Obies

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Still having not eaten anything, and very tired, I found myself amazed at how I managed to stay conscious when Michael Rault‘s set began. I could understand the comparisons made to artists like Mac Demarco. Rault is a talented writer and player. Where Demarco’s style would be more based around R&B, Rault’s sound is more “down home”. Mac Demarco is the city, Michael Rault is a small prairie town. One of the songs in his set sounded like Mountain, where others had a kind of Allman Brothers vibe. The MC for the cruise, who was clearly having a blast, made it clear that this was the guy to watch out for. I wouldn’t call bullshit on that, Rault’s set arguably should have been longer, but the crowd was still very responsive to his well crafted pop rock.

Michael Rault

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Les Chausettes followed Rault for a pop-rock style set. They ended up finishing right as the boat docked. I high tailed it to find food and shelter, as the day wasn’t even close to over and I needed a recharge.

Les Chausettes

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Though the Bruise Cruise wasn’t a disappointment in any way, I would have liked if it was curated a bit better. Last year’s line up (Posterz,PS I Love You, Walter TV, and Calvin Love) was arguably a lot stronger, so maybe my expectations were maybe a bit too high.

If Bruise Cruise wants to be the staple that it should be, it may need to beef itself up a bit more. But hey, maybe I was just hungry.

 – You can find Graham on the internet or at a Billy Moon show.