NXNE 2013: The Cruelty Party @ Wrongbar by Adam Bunch

THURSDAY — It's not every band that starts getting people excited before they've even played their first show or released their first song, but The Cruelty Party aren't just any band. They're something of a Toronto supergroup, led by Alphonse Alixander Lanza III (of the Polaris-longlisted Azari & III), backed by musicians who are already deeply immersed in the local scene: drummer Sean Dunal (Moon King, Sexy Merlin), guitarist Milan Schramek (Modernboys Moderngirls) and bassist Andy Rodriguez. Their first single is being mixed by Dave Newfeld (producer to Broken Social Scene and Most Serene Republic; mixer to Holy Fuck and Emily Haines). The buzz before their first show was enough to pack the basement of the Drake Hotel at midnight on a Monday — despite the set having suddenly been pushed back by a couple of hours. And that public debut made it clear there was plenty of reason to be excited about the band: their songs are the kind of sweaty, catchy, retro rock that might sometimes remind you of The Jam's mod punk and at other times, the early days of Britpop or '90s powerpop.

So it was a bit of a surprise The Cruelty Party didn't draw a bigger crowd to their NXNE gig, a set that had them playing Wrongbar right after the blistering Montreal rock of We Are Wolves. But even without the energy of a full room to drawn on, they managed a swaggering, full-blast performance. Three shows in, the band is already tighter, more confident and powerful than they were at their first show (and that one wasn't exactly loose and timid either). When their first single and debut album finally do get released — and they should both be coming soon — it looks like the band will be more than ready. If their first few shows are any sign of things to come, it shouldn't take long for The Cruelty Party to build all that buzz into a truly loyal following.


Find all of our coverage of NXNE here.

Photos by Adam Bunch.

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at adam@littleredumbrella.com.


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