Toronto, you should be well over your #Bestival hangover by now. Prepare your ears and eyes (and livers) for five days of music, art and showcases around the city. The NXNE festival is turning 21 and ready to party like a senior at a US community college.
Since choosing is hard, here’s a quick rundown of our top picks. Of course, there a bazillion other artists to see during NXNE. This preview should help you decide which corner of Toronto suits your tastes. Everything else should fall into place.
Wednesday June 17
10 pm | Danforth Music Hall | Facebook
Their debut album ZABA came out a year ago to the day. This album is the coolest, grooviest and listenable one year old I know. This may the best birthday party on the block. Odds are we can’t be friends if you do not check these guys out.
10 pm | The Opera House | Facebook
Or for something as chill as the breeze off the lake head south to Broadview & Queen East. Their latest album Barragán is minimal and beautiful. For a group that has been around since 1993 they still have a fresh indie sound.
11 pm | The Drake Underground | Facebook
For those with east-end-phobia and 80s-phillia head west to Queen West & Beaconsfield. Dreamy synths, smooth vocals and just the right amount of cowbell. You’ll be swaying with your eyes closed for most of the night; there will be sax involved.
The Holy Gasp
12 am | The Smiling Buddha | Facebook
For the “damn-the-man beatnik revival conga revolution” fans, head up to College & Dovercourt. Not sure if you should be happy or mad whilst listening to this. Either way, there will be spilt beer, because these guys will get you moving. Also, be sure to check out #nakedJoel’s review on the Gasp’s debut single The Last Generation of Love.
11 pm | The Garrison | Facebook
The Dundas West & Ossington venue will feel like you time travelled to the 60s. Haunting vocals and flowing guitar will grab your attention and hold you close. Her debut self-titled album is a total gem. If people are having obnoxious conversations over her set give them the evil eye.
8 pm | Lee’s Palace | Facebook
Head to Bloor & Bathurst for some retro 80s coming-of-age movie soundtrack vibes. There’s a chance songs from The Midnight Mass may remind you of young love lost. A great way to start the night. Just a reminder, there’s great poutine across the street if you need comfort food.
12 am | Lee’s Palace | Facebook
If you are still there with a broken heart, get ready for a cathartic cap to the night. Her latest album Taiga combines accessible electro-pop with dark powerful vocals and thoughtful lyrics. Add her to your artists to follow list, you’ll thank me later.
12 am | Horseshoe Tavern | Facebook
This Queen West & Spadina venue is perfect for absorbing this succinct synth-pop. Their latest album Escape from Evil may not do as the title suggests, but you’ll be happy. In a recent interview vocalist Jana Hunter had the following to say of the new album. “We wanted to have a good time and for things to be less complicated.” Mission accomplished.
Don’t be lazy; get out there and explore. The city will be open a little later than usual. There will be hustle and bustle. Have fun and be safe.