NXNE 2012: Weekend Best Bets
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NXNE 2012: Weekend Best Bets

Are you tired yet? Tough. Grab a coffee and get back in the pit.

No Use for a Name played Yonge-Dundas Square on Thursday.

We’re nearing the end, but there’s still a ton of great music left to see. Here’s who’s worth seeing on Saturday and Sunday.

Yonge-Dundas Square (21 Dundas Square)
Saturday, 5 p.m.

If you haven’t yet experienced this Ottawa indie group’s live act, then you finally have a chance to make things right. Hollerado, who seem to be making a tradition of free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square, are definitely one of the most fun bands to check out while you’re exploring NXNE. If being Juno-nominated and picked by Jack White to open for The Dead Weather wasn’t enough, you can expect many laughs, power-pop awesomeness, possible confetti, and more when they take the stage (oh, and you will be dancing).

Go if: You need a jolt of spontaneity and good ol’-fashioned Canadian humour to add to your NXNE schedule.

(Kyle Bachan)

The Flaming Lips
Yonge-Dundas Square (21 Dundas Square)
Saturday, 9 p.m.

There’s a reason that the name is the biggest on the poster. Say what you will about the fearless freaks from Oklahoma and their progression from noisy experimental garage band to creators of life-affirming anthems used to sell cars—they know how to put on a show that is anything but boring. It will be interesting to see how the band fares in a space like Yonge-Dundas Square, but in all likelihood, they will successfully transform the area into a wonderland of positive vibes and infectious rock. Admittedly, part of the fun of their concerts is discovering what new theatrics they have in store.

Go if: You have two ears and a heart. And happen to think Radiohead is overrated.

(Kevin Scott)

The Lumineers
The Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen Street West)
Saturday, 11 p.m.

This Denver-based outfit bears a passing resemblance to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros in their fondness for folk anthem sing-alongs, though perhaps less so the travelling hippie commune aesthetic. They cracked the Billboard Top 40 chart yesterday, so they’re definitely a band on the rise. You can say you saw them when.

Go if: You’re a fan of the “roots revivalist” sound, espoused locally by acts like The Rural Alberta Advantage, further afield by Blitzen Trapper and the aforementioned Magnetic Zeros.

(Steve Fisher)

Rival Schools
Wrongbar (1279 Queen Street West)
Saturday, 12 a.m.

Consisting of members of several classic late ’80s New York hardcore bands—including Youth of Today and Gorilla Biscuits—melodic punk act Rival Schools have averaged roughly an album a decade since getting together at the turn of the millennium. The only reason they’re able to get away with it is because said albums are worth the wait.

Go if: You’ve always wondered what happens when angry young men grow up.

(Chris Dart)

Killer Mike
Wrongbar (1279 Queen Street West)
Saturday, 1 a.m.
Yonge-Dundas Square (21 Dundas Square)
Sunday, 8 p.m.

Atlanta’s Killer Mike has been tapped as the next A-Town rapper to blow-up for most of the last decade, ever since he was signed to OutKast’s Purple Ribbon label back in 2003. While he’s received a ton of critical praise and a few sniffs of commercial success, he’s never been able to hit that next level of fame. His new album, R.A.P. Music, was produced by ’90s underground legend El-P, and looks like it may finally be enough to get him over.

Go if: You like hip-hop that’s smart and street at the same time.

(Chris Dart)

David Pecaut Square (55 John Street)
Sunday, 4 p.m.

So technically, this isn’t a NXNE show; it’s part of the final day of Luminato Festival programming. But listening to the lush baroque pop of Ohbijou in the afternoon, sitting on the grass, sounds like a perfect way to wind down an impossibly hectic week of music and culture.

Go if: You like your indie chamber music to have lots of strings and sweet vocals.

(Steve Fisher)

Wannabe (Spice Girls Tribute Band)
Redpath Stage – Harbourfront (235 Queens Quay West)
Sunday, 5 p.m.

Come on, you know what you want, what you really, really want. With another NXNE coming to a close and the terrible shadow of Monday looming, this is the perfect opportunity to indulge in a dose of bubblegum nostalgia before the weekend peters out. One of Toronto’s most successful tribute bands, the ladies adopt the personas of everyone’s favourite proponents of Girl Power and perform all of your favourite hits. While they maintain that their audience consists mostly of girls in their twenties and gay men, straight guys have always had their own reasons for liking the Spice Girls and should not be ashamed to attend.

Go if: You really, really, really wanna zig-a-zig-ah.

(Kevin Scott)

Tre Mission
Yonge-Dundas Square (21 Dundas Square)
Sunday, 6 p.m.

Tre Mission is probably Canada’s only grime MC. At minimum, he’s the only one getting co-signed by the heavyweights of the traditionally all-British genre. As a result, he doesn’t play a ton of shows in his hometown. That said, he’s starting to increase his local profile after successfully taking over the U.K., and has been tapped as one of the next Toronto MCs to blow up.

Go if: You’re a fan of fast, technical MCs.

(Chris Dart)

Raekwon and Ghostface Killah
Yonge-Dundas Square (21 Dundas Square)
Sunday, 9 p.m.

Raekwon is a part-time local, Ghostface is making up for not coming to Canada for 16 years due to an immigration ban by playing two shows in seven months, and they’re both part of one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time. Seeing shows like this for free is what makes NXNE great. If you’ve always wanted to shout along with “Daytona 500,” this is your chance.

Go if: You like hip-hop even a little.

(Chris Dart)

Pink Wine
The Crawford (718 College Street West)
Sunday, 11:45 p.m.

If you’re looking to end your NXNE with catchy tunes and an all-around jammin’ good time, look no further than this power-pop group. With melodies and funk not dissimilar to the New Pornographers, Pink Wine (who are made up of members from Mother Teresa, the Miracles, and the now-defunct Get Nuns) will have you oohing along to the beats as your feet try to keep up.

Go if: You need one more stretch of non-stop dancing before you have to sign back into work tomorrow morning.

(Kyle Bachan)

For those of you who don’t feel like running around all night, we’ve taken the liberty of selecting the evening’s best single-venue lineup.

Best Lineup: Saturday
Yonge-Dundas Square (21 Dundas Square)

It is an understatement to say there is an abundance of good shows tonight. So if you aren’t interested in braving the crowd for Flaming Lips at Yonge-Dundas Square, seeing the recently reunited Archers Of Loaf’s return to Toronto, or venturing to a big non-NXNE show by some British band named Radiohead, there are other places to make camp. Lee’s Palace has Matt Mays (11:30 p.m.), The Horseshoe has Young Empires (midnight), but in all honesty it would be hard to beat the Yonge-Dundas Square day-long smorgasbord that, aside from the Lips (9 p.m.), also offers Of Montreal (7 p.m.), Portugal. The Man (8 p.m.), and Oberhofer (6 p.m.), among others.

(Kevin Scott)

Best Lineup: Sunday
The Rivoli (334 Queen Street West)

It’s the end of the festival and, to be honest, the last thing you probably want at this stage is to hear even one more note of music. Here’s the alternative: kick back and let regulars of Comedy Bar’s Laugh Sabbath like Chris Locke, Nick Flanagan and Aaron Eves cleanse the palate with endless bouts of uproarious laughter. There’s no sense in limiting your NXNE experience only to music when there are other forms of entertainment this enjoyable out there.

(Kevin Scott)