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Photo of White Cowbell Oklahoma at last year’s festival from Word Freak
What comes from twenty-five different countries, takes over fifty hoppin’ clubs, twelve lush city parks, two airport terminals, an island, a subway station, a central city square and a city hall in just three days? No, it’s not a virus with the half-life of thirty seconds. Fear not; it isn’t a swarm of blood-thirsty, West-Nile-carrying mosquitoes. We’ll give you a hint: it’s really, really loud (and it’s not a bomb either). Give up? Why, it’s NXNE! With numbers like these, it all adds up—even with at least three gazillion other festivals going on in the city right now, North By Northeast is filling the city with sounds from around the world. And the all-access wristband? A paltry twenty-nine bucks. Catch a show and a half and you’ve already made up the cost. Keep reading for our picks (and check back after the weekend for a barrage of live concert shots).

The Big Shots

Photo of These New Puritans from turquoise boy
Heading the NME showcase at the Reverb, These New Puritans bring new Brit sounds to North America all over again. Previous party-starters for local indie-hip kids (and sometimes locally-hated) Crystal Castles, and fresh off a highly-hyped tour with Nylon favorites The Kills, TNP play their new-wave post-punk sounds from this year’s release Beat Pyramid on Thursday night—er, early Friday morning. And if you show up early enough, make sure to catch the Tel Aviv-crafted Monotonix, cause they snag drinks from the audience to pour on themselves, only to use as fuel for when they light their bodies (and instruments) on fire, while still playing some rad classic-rock-inspired tunes. Now that’s entertainment.
Thursday, June 12
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists and Sloan @ Mod Club Theatre, 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Rough Trade and Hidden Cameras @ the Phoenix, 8 p.m.
Friday, June 13
Bedouin Soundclash @ El Mocambo (upstairs), 1 a.m.
The Besnard Lakes and Swervedriver @ Lee’s Palace, 12 a.m. and 1 a.m.
Ted Leo & The Pharmacists @ Yonge-Dundas Square, 9 p.m.

Their Big Break

Photo of The Wet Secrets from Pink Moose
Even if The Wet Secrets didn’t come from a certain contributor’s hometown, we’d still be bragging about ’em. While the Edmonton-based troupe’s name may sound like a messy act, their tidy, matching, marching-band ensembles resembles something from a tightly-run parade, and you can trust that their tunes are just as tightly held together. With handclaps and paintcans, timpani and tuba, the five-piece regularly brings in guest hand-clappers and course-shouters to help them get that majestic, grandiose noise that Arcade Fire has so perfectly capitalized on. They’ve got their gig down pat, all the way to the details (their keyboard player’s last name is Organ), and even if the camp fuzz-rock sound isn’t your style, The Wet Secrets promise a good, well-lubricated time for all (and we’re talking liquor, but there’s always the after-party).
Thursday, June 12
Hell Yeah Fuck Yeah @ Bovine Sex Club, 11 p.m.
Major Maker and Grand Theft Radio @ El Mocambo (downstairs), 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.
The Wet Secrets, Smalls Sins, Money Mark, and Flash Lightnin @ the Horseshoe, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
People in Planes @ Reverb, 12 a.m.
Fritz Helder and the Phantoms @ Silver Dollar Room, 3 a.m.
Let’s Go to War! @ Wrongbar, 11 p.m.
Friday, June 13
Pride Tiger @ El Mocambo (upstairs), 11 p.m.
Julie Doiron @ the Horseshoe, 11 p.m.
Oh No Forest Fires @ Kathedral, 9 p.m.
Great Lake Swimmers and Laura Barrett @ Reverb, 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.
The Mark Inside, The Oholics, and the Diableros @ Silver Dollar Room, 11 p.m to 2 a.m.
James Pants @ Wrongbar, 1:30 a.m.
Saturday, June 14
More Proof @ the Drake, 3 a.m.
We Are Wolves @ El Mocambo (upstairs), 1 a.m.
Ladyhawk @ the Horseshoe, 2 a.m.
Slim Twig @ the Silver Dollar, 1 a.m.

The Big Screen

Photo of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road from Thomas Hawk
Did we mention it’s a film festival too? All the films showing at NXNE are about music and the people who make it. The nineteen features, shorts and documentaries showcases everything from never-before-seen Stones footage and Jack Kerouac tributes, to a questionable Finger Eleven project and another with a focus on air-drum battlers who believe they can change the world.
Thursday, June 12
Global Metal D @ the Royal, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, June 13
Side Street Project Screening and Workshop @ NFB Cinema, 11:15 a.m.
Desperate Man Blues @ NFB Cinema, 3:00 p.m.
Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback @ NFB Cinema, 4:30 p.m.
A Life in the Death of Joe Meek @ NFB Cinema, 7:15 p.m.
Saturday, June 14
Clear Red Sneak Preview and Workshop @ NFB Cinema, 11: 15 a.m.
Agile, Mobile, Hostile: A Year in the Life of Andre Williams @ NFB Cinema, 1:15 p.m.
Queens of Sound: A Herstory of Reggae and Dancehall @ NFB Cinema, 3:30 p.m.
Family Meeting @ NFB Cinema, 5:30 p.m.
Adventures of Power @ the Royal, 7:00 p.m.
Hugh Cornwell Blueprint @ NFB Cinema, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 15
Wintersong: A Film About Dakota Suite @ NFB Cinema, 12:00 p.m.
Rolling Like a Stone @ NFB Cinema, 3:30 p.m.
The Last Pogo @ NFB Cinema, 5:30 p.m.