Published on June 20th, 2013 | by Noelle0
NXNE 2013 – All Wrapped Up
NXNE is all wrapped up and we’ve returned to the Motherland. But what a week it was! Toronto is an extremely beautiful city that has a lot to offer, just one of them being Canada’s best music festival (North By Northeast). From headliners in Yonge Dundas Square to cruises on Lake Ontario, and from dive bar venues to exclusive parties – we saw it all. Or at least as much as we could possibly cover out of the thousands of artists NXNE hosted this past week. To break it down, I decided to make a list of some highlights from the festival.
Favorite New Album from an Artist in the Lineup
‘General Dome’ Buke & Gase
I described the sound and performance of Buke and Gase that I caught at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in our last piece on NXNE, but here I want to give credit to their album ‘General Dome,’ released earlier in 2013. The indie rock duo from Brooklyn brought their sound to new heights in this album, which is filled from start to finish with intoxicatingly catchy beats. The first two tracks, ‘Houdini Crush’ and ‘Hiccup’ are enough to draw you in to listen to the entire album, and then you want to hear it all again. Get a taste here and I promise you will be hungry for more.
I had no idea who Braids were when I was planning my festival schedule, but they came highly recommended by one of the media people I had met earlier that day. The venue they were in was really packed, but you didn’t need to see the stage because their sound was so good. Their sound is psychadelic meets electronic with dreamy vocals from the female lead. Turns out that they’ve been catching critics attention since their first album in 2011, and their anticipated second album is set to release in 2013.
Technically, I’d say that the Bruise Cruise was actually worst for sound quality, but it still beats all of the other venues I when it comes to comfort and overall experience. I hate to complain, but many of the venues were overpacked and hot, and some even had a line to get outside. The Bruise Cruise had a beautiful upper deck, where passengers had a view of Lake Ontario and the city of Toronto in the background. The stage was located on the middle level, which was air conditioned, and boasted round windows at water level. The stage was relatively large, as was the area for people to stand and watch. Nothing was crowded, artists rocked out, some brave souls crowd surfed, and every single person on that boat enjoyed themselves.
Favorite Canadian Snack
Obviously. What is poutine you might ask? Simply a glorious pile of hot french fries, gooey gravy, and chunky melted cheddar cheese curds. I had been familiar with this dish, and had less than favorable versions in the states, but they did not come close to the moment of pure glory I experienced when I tasted it in Canada for my first time. You see poutine everywhere up there, but I found it suiting to try it for my first time at the NXNE Free Poutine Party sponsored by Sneaky Dee’s. Yes, it was delicious. Yes, I felt disgustingly full after. And yes, it was totally worth it!
Dan Deacon put on a remarkably fun performance. The man was classically trained in music, has worked on classical compositions, and graduated with a degree in music. With over a decade of experience, he mixed and mingled his classical upbringing with electronic music to create a sound unlike any other. At the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, he played his set on the floor and had everyone dancing and even doing conga lines through human bridges at one point. He is definitely an artist I would enjoy seeing again.
I wasn’t super familiar with The National when I saw them – I know a handful of their most popular songs – but they were never really a band I paid much attention to. However, they put on a phenomenal performance at Yonge Dundas Square Friday night. Their sound is indie rock with a touch of pop, bound together by the lead singer’s baritone voice and an array of instrumental sound. YDS was lit up and crowds overflowed into side streets. At multiple points during the show it literally felt magical, and you could tell that thousands of other people were feeling the same exact way.
I wrote about Mikal Cronin in my last article, but he and his band, hands down, put on the best live performance at NXNE at their resident venue, The Silver Dollar Room. Even though it was jam packed, you could understand why once the music started. Mikal’s voice is steady and quite similar to his studio recordings, and oh my goodness can he seriously rock out on the guitar. Many times throughout the show both he and the bass guitar player banged their heads tossing their sweat drenched long locks through the air as they left this world in solos so good they took the audience with them. Live, their music sounds a lot heavier than on the album, but that was what I liked about it. Oh, and their drummer looked like a gothic Barbie doll who displayed some serious talent. This performance comes highly recommended, and if you’re in NYC tonight, get your tickets and go check them out at the Bowery Ballroom. Seriously, go go go!