Live Review: A week of NXNE 2011

Picture of Handsome Furs Band playing NXNE 2011 Toronto
Picture of Handsome Furs Band playing NXNE 2011 Toronto By: Sheena Lyonnais & TJ Liebgott
June 21, 2011

NXNE is the greatest rock’n’roll challenge of the year.  Musicians and music-fans alike must navigate the city like pirates in the sea, succumbing to the temptations of libations in some of the finest and grittiest establishments in Toronto.  Everywhere you go there’s something to do and someone to see – films, bbq’s, workshops and, most importantly, music.  This was a good year…a really good year!  Highlights included Cults, Rusty, Crocodiles, Tiny Victories, Handsome Furs and Dum Dum Girls.  With such great talent, not to mention the Polaris long list being announced midway through, the biggest challenge was simply deciding who to see.  Here’s who caught our eye. 

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FREE myNXNE iPhone App

myNXNE iPhone App
myNXNE iPhone AppJune 15, 2011
Managing NXNE isn’t always the easiest task. Between 650 bands, impromptu parties, losing track of time, losing count of drinks, running into friends and misplacing schedules, it’s a daunting responsibility even for the most experienced of NXNE navigators.
Luckily we’ve stumbled across a great iPhone app that breaks each night down, lists the bands in order by performance time, includes full venue listings and provides info on every artist.  It’s got everything you need to keep you from getting caught in the NXNE shuffle. We tried it out on an iPod too, which works for the listings but unless you’re using wifi won’t grant you access to the artist info or Spinner’s news feed.  All in all a wicked app that really does make NXNE less overwhelming, which means more time for bands and booze!
Check out Apple for more information.

NXNE Preview: Little City

Toronto Band Little City
Toronto Band Little City By: Sheena Lyonnais
June 15, 2011

There’s a notable wisdom amongst Little City that radiates through their touching and mature folk-inspired indie rock.  They are delicate and smooth, yet grounded on solid percussion that is interlaced with Frances Miller’s moaning vocals, melodic guitars, complimentary banjos and authentic lyrics.  Guitarist Shaun Axani found some time between the real world and writing masters papers to tell us a little more about why we should pack our bags and move to the Little City…or at least spend the night there during NXNE.

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NXNE Preview: Lenka

Lenka NXNE 2011 Interview
Lenka NXNE 2011 Interview By: Sheena Lyonnais
June 14, 2011

Australia’s uber sweet Lenka is rolling into town the night NXNE really kicks off, and while it’s not technically part of the festival we thought we’d give her a chance to speak her mind anyway.  Her alluringly sweet and catchy tracks like “Heart Skips A Beat” and “The Show” have landed her music in everything from Grey’s Anatomy to Easy A, not to mention numerous late night television performances. She talks to us about her new album Two and returning to the city that hosted her first sold-out show.

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NXNE Preview: Braids

Braids NXNE 2011 Interview
Braids NXNE 2011 Interview BY: Sheena Lyonnais
June 14, 2011

Calgary-turned-Montreal’s Braids are strong contenders for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize long-list (to be announced June 16) and for obvious reasons.  Their debut album Native Speaker is already a magnum opus of sorts, receiving high-praise and frequent comparisons to greats like Animal Collective. They combine subtly quirky lyrics with ambient, wispy indie rock and energetic performances, a balance they so elegantly achieve.  Bassist/guitarist Taylor Smith tells us about the band’s past year and what to expect from their NXNE performances.

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NXNE Preview: The oOohh Baby Gimmie Mores

The oOohh Baby Gimmie Mores 2011 NXNE Interview
The oOohh Baby Gimmie Mores 2011 NXNE Interview By: TJ Liebgott
June 14, 2011

Toronto’s the oOohh Baby Gimmie Mores are a cocktail of eclectic sounds and genres.  Starting out as a hip hop duo, TOBGM began infusing live instruments into their act ultimately creating a unique booty-shaking band.  Think early Beastie Boy’s with more edge, grit, vibe and a more modern sound.  TOBGM tell us more of what to expect from this year’s NXNE showcase.

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NXNE Preview: Bastard

Toronto band Bastard NXNE 2011 Interview
Toronto band Bastard NXNE 2011 Interview By: TJ Liebgott
June 14, 2011

Bastard are the kind of band that write songs soaked in whiskey that you would imagine coming out of LA’s sunset strip scene in the 90’s, except they are from Whitby, Ontario.  Don’t let their hometown fool you though, this four-piece plays testosterone filled, balls-to-the-wall, straight ahead hard rock.  While it seems a ton of bands are going for this sound in Toronto, Bastard is one of the elite few doing it right.  Vocalist Ugly Bastard and drummer Slick Bastard join forces to tell us more.

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NXNE Preview: Topanga

Topanga band photo
Topanga band photo By: TJ Liebgott
June 13, 2011

The best way to describe Toronto band Topanga can be summed up in just one word, fun.  Sometimes you listen to a band and you just know that it was formed on the basis of a group of good friends that just want to have a great time, play music, drink beer and get laid.  All of their songs have quirky hooks, are soaked in energy and seem like they would be the perfect backdrop for a sloppy drunk kegger!  Just check out their video for “Lionheart” released today to see what this band is about. I guarantee it’ll be more fun than watching season three of Boy Meets World.  To tell us more is lead singer Stefan Babcock.

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NXNE Preview: HotKid

NXNE 2011 Interview with Toronto Band Hotkid
NXNE 2011 Interview with Toronto Band Hotkid By: Sheena Lyonnais
June 13, 2011

HotKid is on our list of must-see bands at this year’s NXNE and they should be on yours too. Vocalist/guitarist Shiloh Harrison has a sexy, booming voice that sounds like she grew up hanging out in rec rooms, spinning indie rock and spitting undeniable attitude.  Complimented by the fiery Robbie Butcher on drums, the duo combines garage influences decorated with pop hooks best represented in two track’s off last year’s Under The Streetlight, “Yours & Mine” and “Fake It.”

They just wrapped shooting another video with MMVA nominated Alon Isocianu and will be hitting the road with Sloan at the end of the month. They tell us why you should fit them into your NXNE schedulizer.

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NXNE Preview: Volcano Playground

Toronto Band Volcano Playground NXNE Interview
Toronto Band Volcano Playground NXNE Interview By: TJ Liebgott
June 12, 2011

Volcano Playground is one of the more unconventional bands playing NXNE, but also one of the most interesting.  Their sound plays out more like a movie soundtrack than a song. With shimmering guitars that play over ambient and ethereal pads and hauntingly beautiful vocals that are grounded by drum grooves, Volcano Playgrounds music usually leaves you in a trance deep in thought.

They are experimental enough to appeal to those bored by conventional rock music, but have enough structure to not turn off the average music fan.  It’s of no surprise that they will be recording their debut album with Broken Social Scene producer Dave Newfeld.  Volcano Playground’s Jackie Game tells us more about their upcoming NXNE showcase.

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