This year's fest will bring rockers both old and new to Toronto's stages.
There are all sorts of innovative, genre-blurring, avant-garde acts playing NXNE. But sometimes, you just want to see some rock ‘n’ roll, or a really good pop act. Here are a few picks we’re confident in recommending. They’ve thrilled us before, and will hopefully do the same for you.
Wednesday, June 12, 11 p.m.
The Rivoli (334 Queen Street West)
This will be the third music festival where we’ve enthusiastically endorsed Mozart’s Sister, after last year‘s NXNE, and this spring‘s Canadian Music Week. Caila Thompson-Hannant makes it very easy for us. The Montreal-based Grimes contemporary has released an EP, Hello, that takes her bedroom recordings and Cyndi Lauper–style vocals and gives them a polished sheen, and she’s grown substantially as a live performer, stepping out from behind the equipment table more often.
Go if: You want to kick off your NXNE seeing a clever pop star in the making.
Thursday, Jun 13, 12 a.m.
Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor Street West)
There are plenty of veteran bands reuniting and coming to town for this year’s NXNE, but there are also bands that haven’t gone “on hiatus”—aging bands that have been touring and entertaining continually. That describes White Cowbell Oklahoma, though it doesn’t begin to describe the group’s act. If you’ve never seen Cowbell’s faux-Southern, countrified live show, you’re in for a tassel-twirling, chainsaw-spinning good time.
Go if: You like your rock ‘n’ roll loud, lewd, and lascivious.
Friday, June 14, 9 p.m.
Yonge-Dundas Square (Yonge-Dundas Square)
The National returns to Toronto with its new record, Trouble Will Find Me, already flying off (e-)shelves. Husky baritone Matt Berninger and his bandmates will play for free at the “centre of Toronto,” Yonge-Dundas Square. This is one of just a handful of shows that could conceivably outdraw last year’s free Flaming Lips gig.
Go if: Crescendo Rock is just the rock for you.
Saturday, Jun 15, 12 a.m.
The Garrison (1197 Dundas Street West)
A decade ago, Tangiers were often being mentioned in the same breath as the Strokes (or being unfairly compared to them), and the energetic young post-punk rockers were one of Toronto’s fastest rising rock acts. But Tangiers burned too brightly, and its members scattered to other projects (Josh Reichmann has had a particularly eclectic solo recording career). Now, however, the band has reunited for one hometown show.
Go if: You want to see the line-up responsible for 2003’s Hot New Spirits rip through those blitzkrieg tunes again.
METAL and PUNK