It’s that time of year again – the city turns into a cultural hub, abuzz with the excitement surrounding another installment of the multifaceted music and arts event, NXNE. Kicking off with the NXNE Film Fest June 13th (yes, it’s Friday the 13th, so get ready), it’s a nine-day experience packed with an overwhelming amount of talent. There is a staggering number of musicians playing clear across Toronto for the now 20-year-old festival, from local artists to internationally recognized acts. Here we have the top five reasons YOU need to check out at North By Northeast 2014.
5. Art, Comedy, and Interactive conferences
While everyone remembers the massive music festival NXNE brings, there is much more to the festival to promote Toronto’s arts and culture. The art festival runs from June 16th-22nd, including the NXNE Art Lounge, with installations by top artists, technologists and architects; Urban Takeover, which sees local and international artists convert Toronto’s cityscape into a transformative installation that brings attention to lost space, alleyways and pedestrian areas. NXNE Comedy, running from June 17th-22nd for its fifth year. Reggie Watts, Marc Maron and Andy Milonakis are only three of the 100+ comedians performing around the city. Finally, interactive speakers will be offering panels and presentations from June 18th-21st. Presentations range in subjects from the music industry, fashion, social media, filmmaking and even the internet itself.
4. Film Festival
NXNE Film is celebrating its 14th year of the showcase at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. June 13th-15th and the 22nd, more than 15 films will be screened, including “At the Corner of Queen and Bathurst”, a short documentary about the life and death of The Big Bop, and “Boyhood“, the much-anticipated Richard Linklater project filmed over the span of 11 years.
3. International artists
A thing Toronto does well is play host to artists not only from around Canada, but from around the world. NXNE in particular features hundreds of artists for this year’s festival, making it overwhelming to narrow down any one set to see. With different genres from many different countries, NXNE offers a little something for everyone.
Some of my most anticipated international acts include Liverpool, U.K.’s Dan Croll and Baltimore, U.S.A.’s Future Islands. Dan Croll creates wildly upbeat and fun tunes, combining his affinity for folk elements, electronic beats and African polyrhythms to make auditorily pleasing music you can dance to, such as “From Nowhere“. Croll plays the Horseshoe Tavern, Wednesday June 18th, at 1a.m. and again at Wrongbar, Thursday June 19th, at 1a.m.
While they already have four albums under their belt, synth-centric trio, Future Islands have made waves so far this year, gaining recognition for their incredibly catchy single, “Seasons“. Future Islands is part of the House of Vans showcase at VICE Island, Thursday, June 19th, at 8:30p.m., and the Red Bull showcase at Tattoo on Queen St. W., Saturday June 21st, at 12a.m.
2. The many Toronto artists to support
Here we have the home-court advantage with the leagues of talented and interesting artists from the GTA. While there are WAY too many to particularly narrow down, some of those to look out for are as follows:
Pop/indie-rock outfit with soulful and impressive vocals surrounded by catchy riffs and rhythms to get people moving.
They play The Silver Dollar Room on Friday, June 20th, at 10p.m.
Made up of Dan Werb of Woodhands and Maylee Todd, DJ/Electronic duo Ark Analog offers a fun and infectiously “dancey” vibe for crowds to be able to groove. Find them at Wrongbar on Friday, June 20th, at 1a.m., and Tattoo on Saturday, June 21st, at 11p.m.
Hazy, shoegaze-inspired group Beliefs make their rounds with three “fuzzy dream pop” infused gigs for this years’ festival.
Beliefs will be at M for 159 Manning on Friday, June 20th, at 1:45p.m., and again that night at The Garrison, at 11p.m. Their final NXNE gig is at Smiling Buddah, Saturday, June 21st, 8p.m.
This indie-pop quintet kicks off summer in every essence of the word with their catchy hooks and upbeat tunes. They play Cameron House on Wednesday, June 18th, at 1a.m.
1. The interesting venues and showcases
While we’re used to bar-hopping from venue to venue to catch gigs in the city, NXNE offers more outside of the bar scene, and in some cases, “outside” being the operative word.
House of Vans @ VICE Island offers a free event on the Toronto islands, featuring artists such as Pusha T and Future Islands. A ferry will be going back and forth to from city to island at set times, starting at 2:15p.m. and continuing until 1:15a.m.
The MiO Squirtcar turns a TTC streetcar into a wholly unique venue moving along Queen St. Reggie Watts, The Pizza Underground and Army Girls are a few of those performing on the weekend commute.
On top of the outdoor park shows, NXNE offers all-ages shows around the city, featuring gigs that allow those below drinking age to enjoy a piece of the festival. We all remember our first show as teens, and these shows give teens today a chance to get in on the NXNE action that includes a vast number of Toronto-centric bands as well as the heavy-hitters. The following are all playing at Yonge and Dundas Square:
Sleigh Bells, Thursday, June 19th, 9:10p.m.
St. Vincent, Friday, June 20th, 9:10p.m.
Alvvways, Saturday, June 20th, 6:30p.m.
Spoon, Saturday, June 21st, 9:10p.m.
Juicy J, Sunday, June 22nd, 9:00p.m.
While this hardly scratches the surface of the entire festival, the entirety of NXNE details can be found here, including wristband prices, schedules and artist lists.
Keep your eyes here on Music Vice for reviews, interviews and photos of the festival. Get yourself ready for NXNE, we’ll see you there!
© Megan Rach, Music Vice
Share and discuss using the links below. Follow Music Vice on Twitter at @MusicVice. Long Live Indie.