As always, there's way more to take in during NXNE than I could possibly wrap my head around. There's a lot of good bands spread over a full slate of showcases from Wednesday to Saturday, so this is one festival where the price of a wristband is justified. Tomorrow, I'll present a whole bunch of bands that it'd be worth seeing if you're skipping around from place to place, but for today I'll start with a whole bunch of places that it would be worth going to if you wanted to stick at one spot all night long.
N.B. All samples below are live recordings from my previously-posted field excursions, and should give you some idea of what to expect from these artists.
Wednesday, June 13
The Drake Underground Beliefs (9 PM) / Eternal Summers (10 PM) / Mac DeMarco (11 PM) / Porcelain Raft (midnite)
Dream-pop one-man band Porcelain Raft is hotly tipped here, and I'm curious to check in with Mac DeMarco (reinventing himself from his past work in Makeout Videotape) to see how his woozy tape-wobbly croon works at live speed. But the under-the-radar prize here is Beliefs, currently dazzling with their shoegaze-inspired tunecraft.
Listen! Beliefs - Strangers
The Garrison THIGHS (9 PM) / WE R DYING 2 KILL U (10 PM) / Silkken Laumann (11 PM) / Teenanger (midnite)
I don't actually know anyone here except the headliner — but the fact that this night is co-presented by Wavelength is a sign that these are the sort of bands it would be worth going to discover. Oh, and also, the always-fierce garage-punk intensity of Teenanger is always worth seeing.
Listen! Teenanger - S.L.W.
Thursday, June 14
Great Hall Lower Theatre Baby Eagle (9 PM) / The Weather Station (10 PM) / Marine Dreams (11 PM) / Daniel Romano (midnite) / Julie Doiron (1 AM)
Simply put, this is the night's best show, super-solid from top to bottom. I don't know if Julie Doiron's presence at this You've Changed Records showcase is a sign of things to come or just kindred spirits rocking together, but she's an inspired capper to a mix that includes Baby Eagles' Crazy Horse-isms, The Weather Station's urban folk pastoralism, Marine Dream's pomo power pop and Daniel Romano's hurtin' country anthems.
Listen! Baby Eagle & The Proud Mothers - Bone Soldiers
Listen! The Weather Station - If I've Been Fooled
Listen! Marine Dreams - Yet To See The Sun
Listen! Daniel Romano - Knowing That You're Mine
Listen! Julie Doiron - Homeless
El Mocambo (Main Floor) Beliefs (9 PM) / Army Girls (10 PM) / Rituals (11 PM) / Dusted (midnite) / A Place To Bury Strangers (1 AM) / PitchBlak Brass Band (2 AM)
A real interesting mix here, including another shot at seeing Beliefs and a chance to witness Army Girls' tough/tender perfection. Rituals' looming aggressive dark reverb is balanced by Dusted, with Brian Borcherdt finding a new middle point between Holy Fuck and his genteel solo acoustic work. And to close it out, I've heard that A Place To Bury Strangers brings the volume pretty convincingly.
Listen! Rituals - unknown
Listen! Army Girls - The End of Days
The Garrison Idiot Glee (9 PM) / Mac DeMarco (10 PM) / Grass Widow (11 PM) / The Black Belles (midnite) / The Men (1 AM)
The prize here is a chance to see Grass Widow, fresh off their new Internal Logic album. Last time they were in town they were simpatico openers for The Raincoats. Also of note is the thinking man's guitar rock of The Men, which figures to translate well live.
The Silver Dollar Room Planet Creature (8 PM) / GROUNDERS (9 PM) / Hands & Teeth (10 PM) / Pow Wows (11 PM) / Bleached (midnite) / The Sphinxs (1 AM) / The Archives (2 AM)
Well, look: when it's festival time, Dan Burke's NeXT lineups at The Dollar are always a safe pick. His hat-trick headliners are becoming a tradition by now so let's face it: you're probably going to be seeing Bleached at some point during this festival. Given that Jessica and Jennifer Clavin used to be in the fabulous Mika Miko implies they're well-worth checking out. Pow Wows will be winding up the crowd's energy level before them, and do take note that if you're looking to get your night off to a good start, Planet Creature are in a red-hot bubblegum garage zone right now.
Listen! Planet Creature - My Baby
Listen! Pow Wows - Four Star
Friday, June 15
Sneaky Dee's Hussy (8 PM) / Cartoons (9 PM) / Hellaluya (10 PM) / Odonis Odonis (11 PM) / Phèdre (midnite) / Beta Frontiers (1 AM) / Times Neue Roman (2 AM)
At the risk of overselling it, this is the sort of show from which legends are born. Daps Records has been building things from the ground up, sharing stages and releases with like-minded types who like it hot'n'sloppy. This night starts with Hussy's spasm rock, and following the fulcrum of Odonis Odonis' retro-future surfgaze gets groovy for the final trio of acts. Phèdre's live debut at The Great Hall was a memorable, interactive spectacle, so it stands to think that being on a smaller stage will break down the barriers even more. Prepare for glitter.
Listen! Hussy - Tarter Mouth
Listen! Odonis Odonis - Are We Friends?
Listen! Times Neue Roman - To Die
Listen! Phèdre - Love Ablaze
The Shop @ Parts and Labour Purity Control (11 PM) / TV Freaks (midnite) / Omegas (1 AM)
If you feel the need to punk the fuck out, the low-ceilinged basement of The Shop will serve you well, with these bands running the gamut from hardcore austerity to parking-lot brawl.
The Silver Dollar Room The Redmond Barry’s (8 PM) / Goose Hut (9 PM) / Hooded Fang (10 PM) / Parlovr (11 PM) / Bleached (midnite) / TOPS (1 AM) / UN (2 AM) / The Disraelis (3 AM)
Friday night's Bleached set is surrounded by a pair of Montréal bands worth checking out — and a bit further along at both ends of the night a couple fave local acts, with the scrappy Hooded Fang ready to show off their tour-won battle scars and the recently-reformulated Disraelis ending the night in what should be a loud burst of elegant regret.
Listen! Hooded Fang - Brahma
Listen! The Disraelis - Secret
Wrongbar First You Get The Sugar (8 PM) / DZ Deathrays (9 PM) / Bass Drum Of Death (10 PM) / METZ (11 PM) / The Men (midnite) / The Death Set (1 AM) / Uncle Bad Touch (2 AM)
A whole lot of rockin', throbbin' stomp should be carrying on through the night. DZ Deathrays impressed at CMW with their "Death from Below" aggression. METZ are well-known as one one the city's loudest bands, melting faces with their Jesus Lizard-y confections. Another chance at catching The Men here, and stick around for Montréal's Uncle Bad Touch, who bring that old-fashioned scuzzy edge.
Listen! METZ - Dry Up
Listen! DZ Deathrays - Cops/Capacity
Saturday, June 16
Rancho Relaxo Amity Beach (8 PM) / Broken Bricks (9 PM) / The Dying Arts / The Fabulous Yawn (10 PM) / The Sour Notes (11 PM) / Meanwood (midnite) / Nicholas Doubleyou & the B-Squad (1 AM) / Different Skeletons (2 AM)
Amid all the high-profile hullabaloo, we should take a moment for a shout-out to Two-Way Monologues, who keep Rancho humming all year long with eager young bands. They curate the festivals with some of their favourites, so this is a great place to catch some new talent. I'm fond of Broken Bricks' mod-powered chargers, and Nicholas Doubleyou & the B-Squad always bring a ragged singalong party to their odes to failure and exhaustion. Different Skeletons amused the hell out of me at last year's NXNE, and would probably impress more with (I hope) some new gear.
Listen! Broken Bricks - Pop Song + Imaginary Mary K
Listen! Nicholas Doubleyou and The B-Squad - Waterloo
The Silver Dollar Room Dutch Toko (8 PM) / Cellphone (9 PM) / Mac DeMarco (10 PM) / Ell V Gore (11 PM) / Prince Innocence (midnite) / Bleached (1 AM) / Automelodi (2 AM) / Kontravoid (3 AM)
Again, at whatever point your plans for the night run out, you just might end up at The Dollar. If so, come say hi. Lots of bands making weird synthesized sounds throughout the night. Highlights include the Cellphone's uneasy listening — their sound was perhaps a bit better described by their old name Skitso Convo — plus Ell V Gore's hard-edged no wave. Plus, further chances to see Mac DeMarco and Bleached. Prince Innocence is a promising new project from Little Girls' Josh McIntyre and my sources have said some interesting things about the dark, confusing sounds of Kontravoid.
Listen! Ell V Gore - Lobotomy
Other tidbits and advice
The best listings source is the gridtacular Showgopher, with streamable music from pretty much everyone playing the fest. There's a whole lot going on, especially in the daytimes, which are busier than ever with official and unofficial events. Keep an eye out for more popping up in the official offerings — and while I don't know who's behind the "Unofficial NXNE" listings (tumblr | twitter), they seem like a good spot to keep your eyes on as well.
Of all the non-official events, if you want a real alternative to the hullabaloo, I suggest you check out Weird Canada's WXWC anti-festival, with a lot of cool bands playing.
Tomorrow: Plenty more recommendations, skewed to the show-hoppers — now posted here.