nxne 2016

The top 15 bands to catch at NXNE 2016

NXNE returns to Toronto for its 22nd edition on June 13 for five days featuring everything from music and comedy to film screenings and gaming. The festival's landscape continues to change, with more of a focus on technology this year. Yonge-Dundas Square will no longer play host to marquee free concerts, though it will remain a festival hub for gaming events.

The primary outdoor concerts have been relocated to the Port Lands. Festival-goers can purchase a two-day ticket that gives them access to all shows taking place on the new outdoor stage. Tickets to club shows at indoor venues across the city must be made individually. There are no all-access passes available this year.

Despite the major changes and a compression in size, there's still an impressive lineup at this year's NXNE, and much curiosity regarding the festival's new outdoor stage.

Here are my picks for the top shows to catch at NXNE 2016.

Eagulls, The Horseshoe Tavern, June 13
Kicking off the first night of NXNE's club shows is a post-punk group coming straight out of the UK. After releasing their sophomore album Ullages at the beginning of May, the band is bringing their atmospheric tunes to the Horseshoe Tavern for a night that's sure to set a mood for the rest of this year's NXNE festivities.

MSTRKRFT, The Horseshoe Tavern, June 14
This electronic music duo consisting of Jesse Keeler from Death From Above 1979 and Alex Puodziukas of Girlsareshort are back with a vengeance. This time they're getting set to release their follow-up to 2009's Fist of God. Their return to the scene has long been anticipated with an already sold-out show at the Horseshoe.

King Khan & the Shrines, The Horseshoe Tavern, June 16
If you're in search of some psychedelic goodness to get you grooving, this Montreal-based band is your ticket to ride. With their eccentric outfits and lead singer King Khan's out of this world energy, this one is sure to be mind-opening.

SATE, Bovine Sex Club, June 16
From blues, to soul, to heavy rock n' roll. This Toronto band led by Sadiah Baba Talibah is capable of bringing the house down with their bluesy riffs while simultaneously creating a dance floor with their pop-centric songs. With their new album RedBlue&Black dropping soon, SATE is set to take over the Bovine Sex Club.

Kamasi Washington, Danforth Music Hall, June 17
With the help of Flying Lotus's Brainfeeder Records, Kamasi Washington and company are helping to front a new wave of Jazz. By pushing the boundaries and influencing Kendrick Lamar's highly-acclaimed 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, Washington's saxophone prowess will dazzle the crowd assembled at the Danforth Music Hall.

Cold Specks, Lee's Palace, June 17
Many of the highlights for this year's NXNE festival will be brought to you by local artists, including this beautiful songstress known as Cold Specks. After releasing her debut album back in 2012, she has enchanted us with her beautiful powerful voice, which we can expect again at Lee's Palace, with support from Canadian synth-pop band DIANA.

Bry Webb, Adelaide Hall, June 17
Best known as the lead singer of Canadian alt-rock band the Constantines, Bry Webb has been focused on his solo career as of late, and is set to perform songs by classic rock band The Replacements with the help of The Tims at Adelaide Hall. While Webb has been making the rounds performing solo, this will be a rare group concert experience.

Prozzak, Phoenix Concert Theatre, June 18
Early 2000s pop duo sensation Prozzak is back (yes, you read that correctly). Toronto natives Jay Lavine and James Bryan McCollum are bringing the animated best friends Simon and Milo back to life for a headlining show at the Phoenix Concert Theatre. You remember them from their hit songs "Sucks to be you" and "Strange Disease." Once you see them, the nostalgia will kick right in.

Schoolboy Q, Port Lands Stage, June 17-18
Member of Kendrick Lamar's Top Dawg Entertainment, Schoolboy Q is everything a rap superstar should be. The charisma and energy in his music and on stage is uncanny. This will be one of NXNE's biggest highlights this year.

Father John Misty, Port Lands Stage, June 17-18
The next big headliner on this year's Port Lands stage is none other than the ego-centric Father John Misty. With a stage presence unlike any other, his folk songs of love and despair are a pure spectacle that only he can deliver. If you're lucky enough to find yourself in the front row, there's even a chance that he will personally serenade you.

Daniel Caesar, Port Lands Stage, June 17-18
Coming off of a sold-out show at the Mod Club in April, Daniel Caesar is beginning to cement himself as one of Toronto's hottest rising R&B singers. With his gospel background, Caesar's live performances are picturesque and will be a must-see on this year's Port Lands stage.

Born Ruffians, Port Lands Stage, June 17-18
These indie rock darlings from Midland, Ontario are completely familiar with the Toronto crowd. As they continuously grace us with their pop-induced rock songs, Born Ruffians are a treat to see every single time. You can expect them to perform tunes from their newly released album Ruff, as well as some of their past hits.

Highs, Port Lands Stage, June 17-18
Riding the alt-pop wave, there's a reason why this Toronto band will stand out from the rest. Their recently released debut album Dazzle Camouflage is jam packed with colourful tunes that are nothing like you've heard before. They're sure to receive a warm welcome from their hometown crowd.

Shamir, Port Lands Stage, June 17-18
Similar to some of the other acts that are scheduled to perform on NXNE's Port Lands stage, Shamir is a young indie pop artist who's progressively making himself known. After releasing his debut album Ratchet, his infectious disco-infused tunes have become more and more popular. Listen to his recent single, "On the Regular" and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Mick Jenkins, Port Lands Stage, June 17-18
Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins has flown under the radar ever since the release of his 2014 mixtape The Water[s]. While his peers Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa are already reaching rap stardom, Jenkins has been continuously crafting solid work under the radar. He's a hidden gem that deserves your attention.

For set times and NXNE 2016's full lineup, head to the official website.

Did I miss your favourite band? Share your picks in the comments.

Photo of Father John Misty by Matt Forsythe.


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