NXNE 2013: Tupper Ware Remix Party on the Sidewalk at Bathurst & College by Adam Bunch

SATURDAY — It started with a few strains of music drifting across the street. We were on our way into Sneaky Dee's to catch Hot Panda's blistering late night set — our last show of the festival, where we were all meeting up for one last bout of drunken euphoria. But just before we made it inside, that music caught our attention. It was the first few notes of "Take On Me." Bass and synth and guitar coming from the north side of College, from outside the bank, where a crowd of people spilled out beyond the sidewalk into the road. They cheered as the song started. And a good cover of an A-Ha song is more than enough reason to cross any street.

What we found on the other side was Tupper Ware Remix Party — and one of our favourite memories of this year's North By Northeast. They're electro-funk buskers, a five-piece who play on street corners around the city, along with more conventional shows. Their website describes them as a mix of Daft Punk, Iron Maiden, Justice and Parliament, which seems about right: funky synth-pop mixed with guitar shredding. And on this night, they picked the right street corner to play on: smack dab in the middle of NXNE and right on the edge of the Taste of Little Italy festival, which had shut down College for a few blocks and attracted tens of thousands of people.

Tupper Ware Remix Party know how to a draw a crowd, too. Dressed in brightly-coloured spandex and masks, a traffic cone atop one of their heads, they look like the particularly strange cast of a Saturday morning cartoon from the '80s. The eye-catching get-up and their accessible tunes won them a big crowd of drunken revelers at Bathurst & College, a sea of smiles and applause. A few passersby even got in on the action, dropping dance moves on the makeshift sidewalk stage. It was the kind of spontaneous, joyful, completely unselfconscious celebration that our staid, conservative metropolis is supposed to be incapable of. But there the people were, literally dancing in the streets.

Toronto has seen more than our fair share of absurdity in recent weeks. Just a few hours earlier and a few blocks away our "allegedly" crack-smoking mayor had a slushy thrown in his face. But as the Ford circus wears on, there have been plenty of reminders that this city is about more than just City Hall. For us, last week, that reminder came thanks to North By Northeast: the official showcases, the rooftops concerts, the sweaty house parties. The week before that, it was the Arts & Crafts Field Trip festival. And on Saturday night, it was five guys standing on a street corner in spandex and silly masks playing a cover of "Take On Me." Toronto is doing just fine thanks. Absurdity can be a good thing too.


Find all of our coverage of NXNE here.

Photos by Carmen Cheung.

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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