NXNE 2015: How Sad @ Handlebar

FRIDAY – We were a bit late getting to Handlebar on Friday night — the Bathurst streetcar had been turned into a shitshow thanks to the Taste of Little Italy. So by the time we walked into the bar, How Sad's set was already in full swing. But that only made their first impression even more striking. The band had been given the challenge of an early 8 o'clock set; maybe not the best fit for the kind of dance-happy pop songs that beg for the abandon of a late night crowd. But in the purple light at the back of the bar, far from the bright daylight of Augusta Avenue, the Montreal indie poppers were bouncing through their catchy tunes. Frontman Harris Shper was a bundle of barely restrained energy, his arms shaking, his body twisting, as if it were taking all of his effort to keep himself from leaping out into the crowd.

And that crowd responded in kind. They filled the space at the front of the stage, dancing along to the band's seemingly endless supply of catchy, upbeat hooks. And as they did, it was easy to forget just how early it was. As the set climaxed and the final notes of "Indian Summer" faded away, it was a shock to head back out in the light of Kensington, the sun only just now beginning to set. How Sad had turned day into night.


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Read all our coverage of NXNE 2015 here.

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


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