NXNE Toronto

The Top 10 Toronto Bands to catch at NXNE 2011

With only a week or so left until NXNE is laid like a blanket of musical awesome over the bars and clubs of our fair city, it's time to start strategizing festival tactics. Who to see? Where? OFF! at the Horseshoe or Cults at Lee's Palace? I can't solve all these scheduling problems, but for those looking to show some hometown pride this year and find out what's cooking in Toronto's music scene, I've done some of the heavy lifting for you. Below is an alphabetical list of ten Toronto bands whose NXNE sets should not be missed.

Bellewoods - Dakota Tavern, Saturday, June 18 @ 9PM
Bellewoods' first batch of songs, to be released as an LP titled Don't Rely On Me, is a collection of lush, soul-infused folk that oscillates between hauntingly minimal and outright towering. Supporting Christopher White's wounded baritone is a cast of musicians' musicians whose experience (the septet features former and current members of the Coast, A Northern Chorus and Bruce Peninsula, among others) and dedication to craft promise a tight and stirring live show.
See the band's NXNE Schedule here.

Jennifer Castle - Wrongbar, Thursday, June 16 @ 9PM and The Great Hall, Saturday, June 18 @ 10PM
Jennifer Castle has lent her voice to albums such as the Constantines' Kensington Heights and Fucked Up's David Comes to Life, but Castlemusic marks the first time she's released an album of her own tunes. Buoyed by her lovely voice and tinged by the psychedelia characteristic of Chad VanGaalen's Flemish Eye label, Castlemusic is earning Castle accolades from coast to coast and beyond. Not a show to miss this June.
See the artist's NXNE Schedule here.

Doldrums - Sneaky Dee's, Thursday, June 16 @ 11PM and 918 Bathurst, Saturday, June 18 @ 9PM
Toronto native Eric Woodhead is Doldrums, a genre-hopping, sample-loving wunderkind and self-proclaimed "PSY-Fi" artist. He's only been playing live for a year now, but his constantly-evolving and engaging live setup is definitely worth catching, especially at these intimate venues.
See the artist's NXNE Schedule here.

Fucked Up - Wrongbar, Thursday, June 16 @ 1AM and Yonge + Dundas Square, Thursday, June 16 @ 8:00 PM-8:40 PM
Yeah, yeah, so you've seen Fucked Up in the past, but that was BEFORE David Comes to Life. If you've heard the band's new album, you know why you have to be at one of these two shows. And if you're heading to Wrongbar, might I suggest getting there early?
See the band's NXNE Schedule here.

Junior Battles/The Flatliners - Phoenix Concert Theatre, Friday, June 16 @ 7/8PM
Pop-punk foursome Junior Battles and good-times punkers The Flatliners, both denizens of Toronto's punk scene, will be opening for Anti-Flag and Bouncing Souls at the Phoenix on Friday. If your cup o' joe is a back-to-back offering of unpretentious melodic punk served at unrelenting speed, this is a showcase you'll want to attend.
See the bands' NXNE Schedule here.

Little Girls - The Great Hall, Thursday, June 16 @ 11PM and The Garrison, Saturday, June 18 @ 12AM
Josh McIntyre's Little Girls has changed a fair bit since he emerged from a tidal wave of blog buzz two years ago, but his reverb-soaked post-punk has only gotten better with age. Long a foursome, the group is now a live force to be reckoned with; expect huge surf riffs and a slew of new songs from their new six-song EP, Cults.
See the band's NXNE Schedule here.

METZ - Sneaky Dee's, Thursday, June 16 @ 12AM and Yonge Dundas Square, Thursday, June 16 @ 6:00 PM-6:40 PM
Still inexplicably unsigned, METZ have been shaking the foundations of Toronto venues for years now, on the unyielding strength of only three EPs. They're playing Yonge and Dundas with OFF! and the Descendents, but to know the band's full power, I'd suggest catching them at Sneaky Dee's.
See the band's NXNE Schedule here.

One Hundred Dollars - The Horseshoe Tavern, Saturday, June 18 @ 1AM
With the release of their sophomore effort, Songs of Man, this May, alt-country troupe One Hundred Dollars have their best set of songs yet to pull a live set from. Singer Simone Schidt and co. have always been good at writing affecting country tunes soaked in the past, but if you were ever going to see them live, there's no better time than the present. One show only!
See the band's NXNE Schedule here.

Teenanger - Silver Dollar Room, Saturday, June 18 @ 12AM
Less angst-y than their name suggests but just as bratty, balls-out garage-punks Teenanger deliver sweat-soaked sets that tend to bring audiences to a quick boil, then keep them frothing. The prolific quartet is rarely without new songs, and according to their NXNE band bio, they've been "sharpening their aural machete." This can only bode well for your concert experience.
See the band's NXNE Schedule here.

The Two Koreas - Velvet Underground, Thursday, June 16 @ 10PM
The Two Koreas have more influences than you can shake a stick at, but that's what you get from a band comprising music critics, film buffs, and scene veterans. Live, what you get is a boisterous recounting of those influences, in the form of tracks from the band's newest record, Science Island. This band of busybodies only rarely finds time to tour, so don't miss their only planned date for some time.
See the band's NXNE Schedule here.

Honourable Mentions
Of course, there's a cornucopia of talented Toronto bands playing this year's fest that didn't make my Top Ten. Twee songstress Megan Bonnell, multi-vocal power-folk troupe Bruce Peninsula, and glam-pop diva Diamond Rings are just a few more of the Hogtown acts worth catching next week, and there are undoubtedly some under-the-radar gems I've missed.

Writing by Stephen Carlick. Photo by Chromewaves in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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