One of my favorite times of the year in Toronto is coming up: NXNE Music Festival. This year’s lineup features an incredible 1000 artists and 30 films at over 50 stages across the city between Wednesday June 12th and Sunday June 16th. There’s a business aspect to this festival, but for the purpose of music lovers like you and I, I’m sticking to the live music here. Wristbands are still available for $60, which will get you in + out access to all the shows (subject to capacity, of course), single day wristbands can be yours for $30, and there’s also the option of just paying cover at single venues.
For those not interested in running around between venues, possibly waiting in line, or spending your hard earned bucks on bands you don’t know, I highly recommend you pick a venue, go early and stick it out for the night and see what the stage presents you. The Great Hall, The Horseshoe Tavern, Lee’s Palace, BLK BOX, and the Dakota Tavern are fail safes for good tunes every year. Yonge & Dundas Square also has an incredible line-up of FREE shows each night featuring headliners Ludacris, Billy Talent, Social Distortion, and certainly the most anticipated act in my social circles: The National.
Did I mention that there will be 1000 artists? Clearly I couldn’t dig through each and every artist to give you the most perfect list of recommendations ever, but I’ve surely done my darnedest. Aside from the list below, I have to give a shout out for the hilarious band names that I came across: 1992 Toronto Blue Jays, The Mouthbreathers, HORMOANS, Vagina Panther (I can’t make these things up).
There are links to the bands, so have a listen and if you dig the sound, support the band and check them out. Schedules, including venues and set times are all on the NXNE website. [side note to NXNE staff: Really? Still no app for the scheduler??]
Gold & Youth: These guys are on the Arts & Crafts label, which is always a safe bet in my mind. Hailing from both Vancouver & Toronto, they’ve got a broody electronic sound with great vocal harmonies. They’ve also just announced they’ll be joining Tegan & Sara & FUN. at Downsview this summer.
Chad Valley: A 70’s aesthetic, this DJ from Oxford, UK is getting noticed by all the pretentious music blogs/sites out there that we all secretly seek direction from (Gorilla vs Bear, BBC, Pitchfork).
Magical Cloudz: This will be a quiet, experimental set in a sort of sad in a pretty way. Get me? ALso, he’s from Toronto!
Indoor Voices: A layered ambient rock sound that I love so much (a la Broken Social Scene).
The Morals: Think powerful folk ballads with a lead singer that will give you goosebumps. A rising band from Barrie, ON.
The Pelts: Take a trip back to the 60’s and the big band sound. This Ottawa-based band does rockabilly meets rhythm & blues putting on an entertaining, infectious live show that will have you on the dancefloor. I have a feeling that this is the kind of show that is best paired with a flask full of whiskey. I didn’t suggest that.
BRAIDS: I’ve seen them before and they are on constant rotation on my personal playlist. Short-listed for the Polaris Music Prize last year, BRAIDS is one of those great bands that always has people saying “I love this song! Who is this?”
Coeur de Pirate: This is my most anticipated show for NXNE. A 23-yr old piano player from Montreal, Béatrice Martin is classicaly trained and has brought a post hardcore punk mix to her electronic sound. She has done an amazing job at bringing francophone music to a larger non-francophone audience. Love her!
Dan Deacon – Known for his live performances that include a ton of audience participation and with 8 albums under his belt, this electronic performance is not to be missed.
DIANA: A newly formed Toronto-based band, I saw DIANA perform for the first time ever at 1st Thursday party at the AGO and was blown away. Can’t wait to see them again and see how their live performance has grown with a few more shows under their belt.
Boys Noize: A German-based electronic DJ who is HUGE around the world and has been voted the best in the world time and time again by music critics. For a taste of well produced and executed electronic music, don’t miss this.
wicked witches: I’m digging their blues sound full of twang and distortion. It seems like the perfect fit for the Dakota Tavern, but playing elsewhere.
By Divine Right: A legendary band with a rotating membership that has included many of our fave indie darlings at some point in time (Brendan Canning, Feist, etc). No matter who the members du jour are, this will be a great show.
We Are Wolves: Punk band from Montreal that I’ve been into for years. They remind me of Death From Above 1979.
St. Lucia – Yup, Brooklyn is still relevant. Jean-Philip Grobler is making dreamy and catchy electronic pop with classical undertones. Don’t get it? Take a listen:
Villagers – Mercury Nominated (equivalent to our Polaris Prize, only more acclaimed and from the UK) and making the rounds of big festivals of the likes of Glastonbury, this is the only Canadian stop for this Irish band. Reminding me a bit of The Shins, this is a chance to see a band quickly on the rise.
Still Corners: A London-based duo (UK) on the Sub Pop label has garnered much attention and their second album is soon to be released to much anticipation. Think new-wave/pop.
Who am I missing? Who must I see? Please share!! See you on the dancefloor, friends!