For those who like it rough (and loud, and distorted).
While most NXNE attendees plan to spend their time dancing to the most urgent EDM or nodding along knowingly to emotive, vulnerable indie pop, there’s still a place for the dark, the gritty, and the unrepentantly aggressive. As with most years at NXNE, the metal-and-punk selection is small, but the few acts that are playing as part of the festival are all exceedingly strong. Whether the power of the riff compels you, or whether punk will never die in your black little heart, there are some great performances and showcases for those who prefer moshing to swaying.
Wednesday, June 12, 12 a.m.
The Hard Luck Bar (772 Dundas Street West)
Having released their exquisite new record, Anhedonia, in February, the Winnipeg-based post-punkers in This Hisses are bound to put on a hell of a show. Their sound has a deep, lingering richness, with moments of sparking effervescence overlaid on a deep well of sadness. The group’s aesthetic combines a garage-rock energy with rich, velvety, and even gothic tones, earning its style the moniker “surf noir.”
Go if: You like your punk dark, dense, and a little spooky.
Thursday, June 13, 1 a.m.
The Shop, Parts & Labour (1566 Queen Street West)
Ah, nothing like a little powerviolence to keep things interesting on a Thursday evening. Toronto-based Pretty Mouth incorporates crust punk, noisy hardcore, and grind into its chaotic sound, all with the intention of making each performance as relentless and virulent as possible. While the music’s speed may be frantic, the delivery is entirely deliberate and evil.
Go if: Having your face melted off sounds like a pleasant way to spend the evening.
Thursday, June 13, 2 a.m.
BLK BOX (1087 Queen Street West)
Kontravoid—a sleek, sinister, minimalist post-punk/industrial project from former Crystal Castles drummer Cam Findlay—offers a peculiarly sophisticated kind of horror. The urgent, throbbing structures of its songs are often contrasted against tight, minimal instrumentation. This is music that doesn’t just confront audiences; it also pursues, stalking listeners like prey.
Go if: You like to be unsettled as well as entertained.
Friday, June 14, 10 p.m.
The Hideout (484 Queen Street West)
Saskatoon’s Shooting Guns might hail from the frozen tundra of our most rectangular prairie province, but its sound is vast, buttery, and full of sweet, hot smoke. With bits of drone, stoner metal, and sludge mixed into each track, the group’s compelling and hallucinatory record, Born To Deal in Magic: 1952-1976, earned it a spot on last year’s Polaris Prize long list. Expect this NXNE performance to be heavy, psychedelic, and remarkably dense.
Go if: You like your riffs fat, fuzzed, and deliciously droning.
Saturday, June 15, 11 p.m.
The Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen Street West)
The Vancouver punks in White Lung are Canada’s aggressive-music gems. Their last record, Sorry, is an incredible piece of punk songwriting, fusing acerbic wit and relentlessly infectious song structures. Mish Way is a commanding frontwoman (and a great music journalist as well, who broke taboo and reviewed her own record for Vice). We fully expect this band’s set to steal the show at the incredibly strong punk showcase it’s part of.
Go if: The idea of fast, menacing, yet cerebral punk is irresistible to you.
POP and ROCK