NXNE 2012

NXNE 2012 Preview

NXNE 2012 is almost here. Hooray! Around since 1994, the festival consistently brings quality acts to Toronto year after year and promises to do so June 11-17. My (me mememe me!) first NXNE memory is from 1998 when my grade 7 band, Access Denied, applied to the festival and was, well, denied. With our wide repertoire of Green Day covers, Blue Monday (The Orgy version), absolutely no originals and matching (but different) outfits à la Destiny's Child, it was a shock to us all.

Somehow, the festival has persevered without us, and 2012 is set to be a week packed with great music. Get your priority pass, full festival wristband, 1-day wristband or film festival wristband in advance to help your NXNE experience run smoothly. With over 700 bands, 40 films (see our preview here), and a jam-packed NXNEi, it's imperative to plan out your experience ahead of time. To help, we've highlighted some of the most anticipated acts of the fest and offer our recommendations of what not to miss.

We'll have additional posts related to free events, the film fest, Toronto bands to catch at the fest, and more recommendations in the coming days. Stay tuned.


  • Buy the full festival wristband. At only $50 it gives you access to 5 days and nights of music and 7 days and nights of film.
  • Have a plan. Get a TTC pass, a handful of tokens, a bike (pending sobriety), a chauffeur, your mom, whatever. Better yet, use the bike valet!
  • Map out the shows you want to see with the schedulizer, which sounds like a German torture device, but is actually great.
  • Stay hydrated! A lot of places are open until 4 a.m. Take advantage of this. You can sleep next week.


Bad Religion

Bad Religion / Thursday, June 14.
NXNE has always had a punk bent, and this year is no different, as Bad Religion kicks off the festivities at Yonge and Dundas Square. Last year was a riot when The Descendants took over, and this year promises to be even better as one of the most successful and long-lived punk bands plays the public space.

Matthew Good / Friday, June 15.
By almost any measure, Matthew Good is a Canadian music icon, and so it's no surprise that the festival's organizers decided to honour the veteran musician by booking him for one of NXNE's signature events. And while Good has the least amount of support of any headliner at Yonge-Dundas Square, both he and those that decide to go see him are fortunate that the two bands opening for him are the exceptional Eight and a Half, which is made up of former members of the Stills and Broken Social Scene, and the Montreal-based Planets and Animals.

The Flaming Lips / Saturday, June 16.
Faced with the indomitable Radiohead ready to takeover the City's musical consciousness on NXNE weekend, the festival's organizers did about the best they could and booked the Flaming Lips to play NXNE's marquee event at Yonge and Dundas Square. Depending on how much freedom the band is given with their stage show — and it looks like both the City and NXNE are prepared to give the OKC group at least some leeway, as part of Yonge Street is slated to close for the band's 9pm set — prepare for, among other things, lots of confetti, strange costumes, and, most of all, some good tunes, as one of this generation's most wild and eccentric bands takes over the heart of the City.

Raekwon and Ghostface Killah / Sunday, June 17.
It's been almost 20 years since Wu Tang Clan released one of the finest hip-hop records ever in Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). And what makes that fact even more amazing is that in that same length of time, several of the group's member have gone on to have immense creative success with their own personal projects. Raekwon and Ghostface Killah have probably been the most fortunate in that regard, and Toronto is set to have them both on Sunday night. I can't think of a better duo to finish off the festival with.


(Organized by wide-sweeping genres)



Cousins at The Velvet Underground and The Annex Live on Thursday, June 14.
Hailing from Halifax, these touring maniacs are certainly worth seeing. Boasting an impressive catalogue, listen to secret weapon and speech for a taste of what you're in for. Think, Thee Oh Sees, Deerhoof, and jangly chugging guitars. Cousins will be playing two shows Thursday: at the Velvet Underground at 11pm and the Annex Live at 2am.

Dusted at the El Mocambo on Thursday, June 14.
The latest project of Brian Borcherdt (founder of Dependent, former member of By Divine Right, Holy Fuck, solo artist, etc etc etc.). His latest effort as Dusted has been compared to Women and that's enough to have me excited. You can catch him Thursday at 12am at the El Mocambo for the Hand Drawn Dracula showcase.

The Men at The Garrison on Thursday, June 14.
Thursday at The Garrison at 1am and Friday at Wrongbar at 12am is where you can see the Men. You'll get heavy riff-rock which invokes the kind of party atmosphere created by bands like Ladyhawk. It's no wonder these guys have received such glowing reviews.

DIIV at Lee's Palace on Friday, June 14.
Originally called "Dive," the side project of Beach Fossils frontman Z. Cole Smith was soon changed to DIIV in light of a 90s Belgian industrial band claiming ownership of the name. DIIV is just as dreamy and scuzzy and moody and hope-invoking as Beach Fossils. Smith is quoted as saying "...I hate people. I love animals. I love my friends. Thank you to everybody. Text me." A man after my own heart. Find them at Lee's on Friday at 10pm.

Black Belles at the Horseshoe on Friday, June 15.
Jack White approved pale white girls who might be witches — do you think it's in their contract to wear those hats? Or did they all have them when they met and that's how they bonded? IF JACK WHITE THINKS IT'S GOOD, THEN YOU THINK IT'S GOOD. Playing at: The Garrison Thursday at 12am and The Horseshoe Friday at 11am. Take. yo. pick.

Metz at Wrongbar on Friday, June 15.
Toronto noisemakers. Like Bleached, they're a band best experienced live. You can catch them Friday at 11pm at Wrongbar and Saturday when they open up for Archers of Loaf. You could put this in the must-see category.

The Lumineers at the Horseshoe Tavern on Saturday, June 16.
This is a folksy, pulling-on-your-heart-strings type trio from Denver. Getting quite a bit of attention lately, with their first full-length having just come out this past April. Catch them at The Horseshoe on Saturday at 11pm.

Bleached at the Silver Dollar Room on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
When you begin typing "bleached" into Google the first suggestion that pops up is "bleached anus." Do not click that. Former members (and sisters!) of Mika Miko formed the band after their demise in 2010. The sisters brand of late 70s power pop punk landed them a solid residency at The Silver Dollar Room Thursday, Friday and Saturday (12, 12, and 1am), which gives you plenty of chances to catch their energetic live show.


NXNE 2012

Hatchmatick and Treasure Fingers at the Drake Hotel Underground on Saturday, June 16.
In contrast to years past, this year's NXNE is light on quality electronic music. Still, there's a couple of sets worth checking out. One of said highlights includes Hatchmatick, he of Montreal Peer Pressure fame, and disco jams DJ Treasure Fingers. Between these two DJs, the Drake Underground should turn into a sweaty summer sauna.

Kevin McPhee at Supermarket on Friday, June 15.
Since the start of 2012, Resident Advisor's podcast has featured the likes of Floating Points, DJ Harvey, and Matthew Dear, and that's just a small sample of the many talented DJs that have contributed to the prestigious podcast in the past five months. This week, though, it was Toronto's own Kevin McPhee's turn to take the lead on the weekly mix. The result, which you can check out here, is nothing less an hour and thirty seconds of aural bliss. McPhee is sure to bring his best to the Supermarket on Friday night, and he's joined by a collection of other talented Toronto DJs, including John Roman, Mr Charlton, Rynecologist, and McNair and Clarke.

Purity Ring at Wrongbar on Thursday, June 14.
Four massive singles in Ungirthed, Belispeak, Lofticries, and Obedear, a high profile signing with illustrious indie label 4AD, a much-hyped debut album set to release on July 24, and, well, all things considered Purity Ring's 1am showcase on Thursday at Wrongbar probably ranks among one of the most anticipated sets of NXNE. Beyond the chance to hear the rest of the band's upcoming debut album, however, is an opportunity to see their weird and wonderful stage show, which includes some strange instruments and custom costumes designed by singer Megan James. This one is guaranteed to be packed, so arrive early.

Mozart's Sister at the Garrison on Saturday, June 16.
Described by Grimes' Claire Boucher as her "Canadian sister," Calia Thompson-Hannant, a.k.a. Mozart's Sister, is the latest project from the Montreal-based singer — Hannant's past projects include Shapes and Sizes, Miracle Fortress, and Think About Life. And although she's bound to receive a lot comparisons to the aforementioned Grimes for her similar off-kilter take on electro-pop, Hannant manages to differentiate herself with her soulful, strong voice and fresh take on the wide open genre. You can download some of her latest tunes for free on her bandcamp page.


NXNE 2012

Action Bronson at the Drake Hotel Underground on Saturday June, 16.
Before he decided to pursue a career in the rap game, Action Bronson was a well-known chef in New York City, which might explain why so many of his songs are about food. Somewhere in between cooking gourmet meals for the New York's elite and dropping rhymes, Bronson managed to develop a lyrical style that's been compared to Ghostface Killah's style.

Killer Mike at Wrongbar on Saturday, June 16.
Although he's probably best known for his frequent collaborations with Outkast, Michael Render, a.k.a. Killer Mike, has been as influential as his Georgian compatriots in the development of Southern rap. His recently released his sixth album, R.A.P. Music, has garnered a wealth of critical praise from a variety of press outlets. NXNE offers two opportunities to check out the gritty MC — once at Wrongbar, and then again at Yonge and Dundas Square.



alphabot! at the Harbourfront Centre on Saturday, June 16.
Here's the scenario: your bizarre nerdy little brother who momentarily swaps his computer for a Casio, and for reasons you can't explain, you're into it. I caught him at a Sofar Sounds event last winter and he provided delightfully strange commentary and ended with a little burst of insanity (reminiscent of Wax Mannequin), all the while managing to make everyone laugh. His between song banter is worth checking out on its own. See him Saturday at Harbourfront at 4:15pm.

Elk at the Horseshoe on Thursday, June 14.
60s-sounding garage rock played by four young lads raised in the wilds of the GTA. Catch them at the Day Party Music Showcase at The Horseshoe on Thursday at 2pm. You can read what I thought about them here because well, it's after midnight and this thing was due like, yesterday. Please note the amazing title. Here's hoping they're just as tight and fast on Thursday!

Nick Everett and Everybody at Monarch Tavern on Thursday, June 14.
A nice young man currently based in Nova Scotia. Something like Andrew bird and Sufjan Stevens and Chad VanGaalen and....everybody. Catch them at The Monach Tavern Thursday at 9pm.


Igor Bonifacic's picks:

Ryan Bolton's picks:

Adam Brady's picks:

Adam Kamin's picks:

Aubrey Jax's picks:

Erin Scholz's picks:

  • Cousins — Thursday @ 11 PM / The Velvet Undergound.
  • Plants and Animals — Friday @ 8:30 PM / Yonge and Dundas Square.
  • Elk — Thursday @ 2 PM / Horsehoe.
  • DIIV — Friday @ 10 PM / Lee's Palace.
  • Flaming Lips — Saturday @ 9 PM / Yonge and Dundas Square.

Writing by Erin Scholz and Igor Bonifacic

Photos (in order) by Matt McAndrew, MythicSeabass, Incase, Christian Bobak, The Come Up Show, and Sarah Rix.

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