NXNE 2014 Preview: Metal, Punk, and Hardcore
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NXNE 2014 Preview: Metal, Punk, and Hardcore

NXNE’s focus isn’t on heavy music. Actually, it doesn’t really have a specific focus, but it can’t be denied that it neglects metal, hardcore, punk, and other aggressive genres. However, searching through the festival’s programming can still yield some positive results for those who like their music at the more extreme end of the spectrum. We undertook just such a search—and identified the cream of the metal, punk, and hardcore crop. (We, unlike NXNE, even managed to avoid making repeated comparisons to the Jesus and Mary Chain in our write-ups.)


When: Wednesday, June 18, 10 p.m.
Where: Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen Street West)

Godstopper is a bold but appropriate name for a group that constructs a noisy doomed wall of sound that’s as oppressive as a supposed deity’s rule. The heavy low end, similar to Torche’s destructive rumblings, sounds as if it’s coming from the bowels of hell. However, it’s all tied together with an underlying melodic sensibility that’s steeped in sludge and grunge (remember, Kurt Cobain’s favourite band was the Melvins). It’s enough to stop any listener—or god–in their tracks.

Nice Head

When: Friday, June 20, 2 p.m.
Where: Smiling Buddha (961 College Street)

When: Saturday, June 21, 9 p.m.
When: Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor Street West)

Nice Head know compliments make pals, which is why their moniker could come across as one (it’s actually an insult lobbed in disbelief). However, what they don’t seem to know is that secrets don’t make friends; the group have no posted sample and provide no indication of their sound. But secrets do make for interesting surprises, and Nice Head’s performance will be just that. Given members’ tenures in Cursed, Burning Love, and Sailboats Are White, and influences such as Unsane, Kittens, TAD, and other stuff you’d find on Amphetamine Reptile Records, you’d be wise to check them out.


When: Friday, June 20, 7:40 p.m.
Where: Yonge-Dundas Square (1 Dundas Street East)

Swans are faithful. They stay in monogamous relationships for life. Swans (the band), on the other hand, have enjoyed multiple partners during their existence, with mastermind Michael Gira leading the group. Their influence on heavy music shouldn’t be underestimated. For tangible proof, see the Full of Hell shirt that reimagines the cover of Filth. For auditory proof, just listen to any of those lumbering bands that let darkness black out the light through disturbing concoctions of droning doom and sludge metal.


When: Thursday, June 19, 11 p.m.
Where: Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen Street West)

GHXST know full well that the roots of heavy metal can be traced to the blues. In fact, calling them metal in this day and age is a bit of a stretch—they’re like the band they almost share their name with, Ghost (B.C.), in their retro stylings. But while that band is built on their costume gimmick, these New Yorkers are focused on one thing and one thing alone: riffs. In terms of metal affinities, their music perhaps most reflects the doom of early Black Sabbath.


When: Wednesday, June 18, midnight
Where: Smiling Buddha (961 College Street)

When: Friday, June 20, 8 p.m.
Where: The Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen Street West)

When: Sunday, June 22, 3 p.m.
Where: Edward Day Gallery (952 Queen Street West #200)

This Toronto band really should be more popular than it is. Vocally, Shehzaad Jiwani channels Title Fight’s yell-singing, but Greys tends to sidestep the Pennsylvanians’ penchant for melancholy in favour of something more consistently noisy and loud. They’re less rooted in pop punk, taking any influence from grunge literally and dirtying up the sound. Their upcoming album, If Anything , will take their punk attitude and sound further—and, we hope, farther, via expansive tours on which they can spread their (teen?) spirit.

  POP and ROCK

CORRECTION: June 10, 2014, 8:00 PM This post originally stated that Greys will be playing June 18 at noon; in fact, they’ll be playing at midnight.