Japanther NXNE, Toronto, ON June 17 to 21, 2009

Japanther, played the best set(s) of the entire festival. During a late-ish Sneaky Dees gig, the Brooklyn outfit stomped through a visceral show, frenetically careening between disparate subjects and sounds and sweating into phone-aping microphones, but never calling it in. Raised- fist poli-iconoclasm with hooks, a massive, infectious nod to a long-dead Hollywood heartthrob (i.e. not Joaquin), and a Ramones cover ("Blitzkrieg Bop") towered. Whether nodding to hip-hop luminaries (i.e. Wu Tang Clan and Aceyalone) or playing raucous anthems, the mighty team infused its sonorous sound with massive, unfaltering infectiousness and therein lay the trick. The cassette-deployed backing tracks (seriously) didn't hurt, either.