Cord arts presents: NXNE preview


File photo by Kate Turner
File photo by Kate Turner

Once again hitting the downtown core of Toronto, North by Northeast is now entering into its 20th year. Seen as a vehicle allowing emerging artists from music, film, comedy and art the chance to introduce their craft to new audiences, the city-spanning festival also brings in some internationally famous headlining acts.To mark 20 years, over 1,000 musical performers have been booked, with an expected attendance of around 350,000 fans from around Ontario. While already underway, some of the staff at The Cord have compiled what they think will be the musical artists to check out during the remainder of the week.


Scott Glaysher – Staff Writer

A$AP Ferg – Tattoo Rock Parlour – June 20

Coming straight out of Harlem and right to the streets of Toronto, A$AP Ferg looks to be one of NXNE’s best performers. The lieutenant of the A$AP Mob cohort will more than likely bring his classic “turn up” style to one of Toronto’s classic venues. Be sure to catch this one live for a plethora of hits including ‘Work’, ‘Shabba’ and ‘Hood Pope’. His high-energy stage presence and smaller venue feel will make for the perfect hip-hop recipe.

Shi Wisdom – Tattoo Rock Parlour – June 20

Shi Wisdom’s performance may come as a surprise to many urban Toronto folk. Rapidly become one of the city’s best R&B performers, it has not just by chance. Her April 2014 release entitled ‘Stranger Things Have Happened’ made a real buzz with Toronto’s youth and her live show should give the exact same effect. Make sure to grab a beverage and relax to some of the city’s smoothest R&B.

Danny Brown – Yonge & Dundas Square – June 19 and 20

Out of all the acts coming to NXNE this year, there is probably none more exciting than Danny Brown. The Detroit rapper had a massive 2013 with the release of his critically acclaimed LP ‘Old’. Performing both at Yonge Dundas Square, along with a small set at Tattoo Rock parlour, he will have a lasting impression at this year’s festival. In all honesty, this spastic MC is probably best enjoyed in the larger setting as his sound tends to be referred to as “loud.”


Cara Peticca – Staff Writer

Amity Beach – Cameron House – June 18

Set to perform at the Cameron House downtown, the band of five began playing in their hometown of Grand Bend. Their album ‘Bonfire Etiquette’ was released in July 2013 and is the epitome of feel-good summer music. The band sets themselves apart in the indie scene by incorporating imaginative synth melodies, unique instruments like the french horn and the bari sax, as well as catchy guitar riffs into their 10-track album.

Andre Ethier – Smiling Buddha – June 19

Folk artist Andre Ethier is in the band Deadly Snakes but his solo work is exceptionally remarkable. Think Mumford and Sons meets Bon Iver meets easy jazz highlighted by piano and wind instruments. His comprehension of the arts, along with his intimate passion for folk music is inspiring. NXNE has nailed this venue allocation; the Smiling Buddha is the perfect atmosphere for Andre Ethier’s transcendent sound.

Bugs in the Dark – The Rivoli – June 1

Straight out of Brooklyn to the streets of Toronto, or to the stage of the Rivoli rather, Bugs in the Dark is a band classified as alternative although the music is fundamentally rock and roll. NXNE has compared their sound to that of the Pixies and Sonic Youth. Karen Rockower is a vocal powerhouse; her voice companies decorative guitar riffs and constant rhythm of the drums seamlessly.


Bryan Stephens – Arts & Life Editor

Pissed Jeans – MOD Club Theatre – June 19

While most punk bands draw inspiration from political and anti-establishment themes, Pissed Jeans take another root of inspiration: adulthood. Playing loud, heavy, noisy punk rock, Pissed Jeans try and let listeners relate to the world around them, and ensure them that it is indeed as mundane as it sometimes appears. This is done not to anger people, but to let people know they writing music not about the forgotten ideals of punk, but real concerns that affect working people. Pissed Jeans’ set will give people the room to let out their rage, all the while being pummeled by their intense, yet catchy, blend of punk and hardcore.

Swans – Yonge & Dundas Square – June 20

Starting his journey into experimental music in 1982, when Michael Gira revived the band back in 2010, unanimous critical acclaim agreed that his ability to create soul-searching music was still intact. Known for their intense live shows, Swans aims to be a musical force heard and not ignored. While creating a sonic bombardment for it’s listeners, the experience of them onstage will likely be remembered and could leave listeners with the plurality of unease and amazement.

Spiritualized – Sennheiser House at Massey Hall – June 20

Formed in 1990 by Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman), Spiritualized play a form of space rock in a league of its own. Over the course of 25 years and seven studio albums, Pierce’s music has been pushing the ideal of atmosphere in his music to new heights; whether featuring grandiour symphonics, or maximizing the potential of a more typical rock band, the result leads listeners into feeling like their heads are in the clouds. Judging by the reception of fans and critics alike of 2012s “Sweet Heart Sweet Light”, the show will sure to be a highlight of the week.

Spoon – Yonge & Dundas Square – June 21

Crafting their own blend of rock n’ roll since 1993, Spoon stand out from a crowd trying to find their voice in the contemporary alternative rock scene. Taking their name from the 1970’s avant-garde band Can, Spoon take the sounds and sights of bands like The Kinks and translate them into the now, birthing music that resonates what they feel is good. After seven albums, with the eighth on its way, the commercial and critical success the band has enjoyed is justified on all accounts. Playing the free stage at Yonge & Dundas Square, it will be hard to not start bobbing your head when these guys hit the stage.

Rhye – Senheiser House at Massey Hall – June 21

The collaborative effort form Montreal’s Mike Milosh and Denmark native’s Robin Braun offers listeners a contemporary R&B experience that perpetuates chill. Between the R&B rhythms, electronica instrumentalization, and smooth vocals from Milosh, Rhye will leave the audience sure to be feeling relaxed and ready to have a good night. Coming off from 2013’s ‘Woman’, this duo will sure to be a must-see on Saturday.


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