Top 10 Local Bands to Watch During NXNE

By: Sheena Lyonnais June 10, 2013

The Beaches

NXNE is the perfect opportunity to discover a multitude of bands from around the world, but it’s also just a great excuse to drink til 4 a.m. and catch some of the finest local talent in the city. These 10 bands span a spectrum of styles and experiences, but they share the common denominator of calling Toronto home. It’s insane the talent coming out of this city right now, but we had to narrow it down. Here’s who made the cut.
 
Human Bodies (Wednesday, Rivoli @ 8 pm)
 
Human Bodies is an ambient indie five piece that is really just quite nice to listen to. They play early on Wednesday, making them a safe choice to start your week off, seducing you early with their charming harmonies and dreamy pop elements. They’ve been recording a follow-up to 2012’s Continue EP, so expect some new material.  
 
Brad Filatre (Wednesday, Cameron House @ 10 pm)
 
Originally from Newfoundland, this songwriter has been calling Toronto home for a few years now. With those smoky, folky vocals and moody guitars, Brad Filatre sings love songs for the girls with the broken hearts, and he writes for those days when you’re here but you’d rather be anywhere else, with blurry visions of coastlines and empty canteens. A more commercial pick than the rest, Brad Filatre is universally talented. This would be a good pick to bring a date to. 
 
 
DIANA (Thursday, Horseshoe Tavern @ 10 pm)
 
DIANA is the local buzz band of the festival and it is well warranted my friends. The band’s debut self-titled LP was released here through Paper Bag Record and through JAGJAGUWAR in the States. With their big, bold soundscapes and indie notoriety (singer Carmen Elle is from Army Girls, Kieran Adams is from Warm Myth and Bonjay, Joseph Shabason from Destroyer and Paul Mathew from Hidden Cameras), they’ve recently returned from touring the UK and France, receiving accolades from NME and numerous blogs along the way. A top pick. 
 
{http://soundcloud.com/dianasound/sets/freeeeeemix-1}
 
Beliefs (Thursday, Handlebar @ 10 pm | Saturday, Garrison @ 10 pm)
 
Another dreamy shoegaze band to come out of Hogtown, but Beliefs gets a pick because they possess something magical and haunting, an energy so organic it seems this music had to be made. Comprised of Jesse Crowe (also one of the best hairstylists in Toronto FYI), Josh Korody and Richard Stanley, the band has performed alongside A Place To Bury Strangers, Beach Fossils, and others. Consequence of Sound used the phrase “shrouded in blankets of sobering haze” to describe their debut album and it’s such a great depiction I must quote it. Beliefs is cinematic and ambient, a score to living in the city.
 
Parallels (Thursday, The Painted Lady @ 1 am)
 
This video alone is proof enough that Parallels’ retro throwback to the days of Heart and Madonna is worth devoting a coveted Thursday spot to see the Toronto synth-three piece. Wear your dancing shows, for Parallels embraces influences range from New Order to Robyn and track “Ritual Dancer” is sure to get your moving. It’s fun, it’s light and will no doubt be a colourful performance. 
 
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Pick A Piper (Thursday, The Painted Lady @ 2 am)
 
Might as well stick around for Pick A Piper, the spin off project of Caribou drummer Brad Weber and one of my favourite party acts in the city. Pick A Piper takes their percussion heavy but swirls it in with atmospheric rhythms and soothing vocal constructions. I like to toss them on when it’s late in the night and everybody’s coming down, so it’s appropriate and welcoming that they’ll grace the stage at 2 am. Sway baby, sway.
 
{http://soundcloud.com/pickapiper/cinders-and-dust}
 
The Beaches (Friday, Rivoli @ 10 pm)
 
Four badass girls influenced by Patti Smith, The White Strips and Elastica? Maybe a little bit of the Runaways in there? You don’t need to tell me anymore for I am already in love. Not only are the Beaches (pictured above) incredibly solid, but its members are STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL! They can’t even legally drink and yet their music makes me want to do 10 shots in a row and take the town by the horns. Ladies, if you’re looking for a heroine or four, these east side babes are your girls. Their video for “Loner” has been in rotation over at MuchMusic and they’re opening for Mother Mother at a couple gigs later this month. They’re debut self-titled EP just dropped on May 28 and is available on iTunes. Draw some big stars around this selection because you’re spending your Friday at the beach. 
 
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Dusted (Saturday, St. James Gazebo @ 7 pm + The Garrison @ 11 pm)
 
Brian Borcherdt of Holy Fuck fame has struck sonic gold with his post endeavour, Dusted. Rounded out by drummer/producer Leon Taheny, The duo’s latest album Total Dust has been on constant rotation since it’s release last year. Equal parts fuzzy and hauntingly barren, Dusted are a unique enigma that manages to tap into your soul and lure out internal sadness one note at a time.  
 
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Eight and a Half (Saturday, BLK BOX @ 11 pm)
 
Alright, I know Eight and a Half is only partially a local band and I also know that they’re often found amongst my festival picks, but I never feel like their turnouts give them justice. This is the perfect band to watch to dissuade some of that festival anxiety, I mean these guys get it. They just want to be chill and introspective and they want to do it in a style that’s relatively familiar–thanks to their combination of Broken Social Scene and (ex) the Stills members–yet is also quite surprising, with their cumulus sound constructions and ambient architecture. This is a band that truly makes me feel and I never tire of seeing them live. 
 
{http://soundcloud.com/eight-and-a-half/scissors}
 
Skinny Bitches (Saturday, Magpie @ 12 am)
 
This co-ed duo manages to pack a lot of elements and actions into pretty simple construction: just a boy and a girl swapping vocals on guitars and drums. Nothing fancy here, but the results are effective and the music is packed with swagger. Top tracks include “Everything’s Cool but Nothing’s Exciting” and “Gunsmoke.” Giver a little more of that low growl and these guys might be on to something. 
 
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Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and #TorontoMusic throughout NXNE.

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