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

"The drummer is fucked," remarked a punter. By "fucked," he meant fantastic (it's such a dynamic word). Whether stewarding a screech-out jam or holding pace on a meditative track, Zeroes' percussionist Liam O'Neill was his band's unsung centerpiece, though the Montreal combo was uniformly tight. Trading in controlled shambolicism, the band deftly utilized a bait-and-switch model, employing massive yet unpolished guitars, burying Pete Townsend nods or shredding like a Ninja Turtles villain. Paradoxically dirty yet spotless, it was a layered and stirring set.