The Five Streams of NXNE: Music
North by Northeast is almost here! The week-long arts festival in downtown Toronto that starts June 10th and lasts until the 16th is less than a week away and anticipation is definitely growing. We’ve already previewed three of the Five Streams of NXNE—art, interactive, and film–and today we’re looking at the festival’s main draw, the music!
NXNE is hosting over 1,000 bands from all around the world, in venues across the city’s downtown. While this massive number of musicians is awesome, it’s also quite intimidating–picking who to go see will be a challenge! Too many good artists is a challenge festival-goers love to face and NXNE will be a great time for everyone who attends.
Because the list of performers is so daunting (you can see the whole thing here), I’m going to focus on the four headliners that will be playing free shows at Yonge-Dundas Square on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. The first to perform will be Social Distortion. Thursday is punk night and these guys have been a force in the punk scene since they formed in Fullerton, California in 1978. Social Distortion has seven albums under their belt already, and will be releasing an eighth this year, so you’ll still be able to hear new stuff coming from these relentless rockers!
On Friday, the National, an indie rock band from Brooklyn, will be hitting the stage. As we covered in our NXNE Preview, the National is comprised of brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, brothers Scott and Bryan Devendorf, and Matt Berninger, and they mesh to create a unique, dreamy rock sound. They formed in 1999 in Cincinnati, but later relocated to Brooklyn. They released their newest album in late May, and it’s great and has garnered tons of praise from critics, so you can expect to hear some cool new tunes from these guys too.
There is sure to be a huge crowed at Yonge-Dundas Square on Saturday, as a hometown group will performing. Ontario’s own Billy Talent, a melodic punk band that’s been together since 1993 and has won multiple Juno Awards, will bring their energetic live performances to NXNE. These guys actually performed at NXNE back in the 90s, under the name Pezz, but were invited back to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The band has had the same four members–Benjamin Kowalewicz, Ian D’Sa, Jonathan Gallant, and Aaron Solowoniuk–for all 20 years, which is super impressive, and they’ve released five albums together. There will definitely be a fun atmosphere at this show.
Sunday is the final day of the festival, and I can’t think of a better way to wrap things up than to see Ludacris hit the stage. It was just announced that Luda will be taking Big Boi’s place in the festival and coming up north to show NXNE how they do it in the Dirty South. The rapper, who has released seven albums so far in his career, with the first coming way back in 2000, just released a new mixtape called #IDGAF (which was downloaded almost 60,000 times in its first day!) and has a new album, his eighth, coming out in September of this year. He’s also become a famous actor, and plays a major role in this year’s Fast & Furious 6, so that’s cool too. Ludacris is clearly a busy man and it will be really fun to see him perform songs both new and old.
The best part of big festivals like this one is discovering new music and with 1,000+ it shouldn’t be too difficult to find awesome new acts. NXNE is going to be a really fun time, spent listening to new music with new people in an awesome city–I can’t wait!
If you’re in the area and want to join, get your tickets now! And stay tuned for SR’s coverage of the fifth and final NXNE stream later this week!