Every June sees the annual music, film and interactive festival NXNE takeover venues around downtown Toronto. This year the sun came out to shine on the 17th event with over 300,000 people enjoying the fun (110,000 of them filling Dundas Square over 4 days to see bands like Fucked Up, Descendents, DD/MM/YYY, Cults, Devo, Digable Planets and The Pharcyde). Team Fused headed out to check out the action, catch some rays on a boat, take in some bands and films and enjoy the Toronto way of life.
With the majority acts coming from Canada and the US (around 16 countries are represented overall) it’s a great chance to check out some bands you’ve never heard of. The NXNE directory goes a long way to help whittle down who to see out of the 600+ bands offering tips on who their influences and offering a ‘If you like…’ suggestion.
While the bigger acts were staged outdoors at Dundas Square – which incidentally was open to everyone not just badge/wristband holders – other acts were based throughout downtown at the city’s music venues and bars. There were some notable sell-out shows (Twin Shadow, Cults, Dum Dum Girls, The Dodos, Handsome Furs, Deerhoof, Chad VanGaalen, Hot Water Music, OFF!, Crocodiles, Wild Nothing, Braids, Ty Segall, Suuns, Grimes, METZ, Dirty Beaches, Swervedriver, Prince Rama, and Shad) but unlike it’s big brother SXSW it was much easier to get to see the bands you wanted without a 3 hour queue to deal with.
Fused Festival Highlights
M for Montreal & Brooklyn Vegan Bruise Cruise
Checking out Lake Ontario is one nice trip indeed but doing it on board a 600 capacity luxury yacht with cocktails and bands is just perfect.
The generous people of festival M for Montreal and NYC-centric music blog Brooklyn Vegan invited 575 NXNE revelers to board the Captain Matthew Flinders and set sail on the calm waters while taking in the not-so calming noise of Jesuslesfilles, Uncle Bad Touch, Young Governor and Ty Segall.
Despite the baking heat outside and the temptation to bask in the beautiful sunshine the bands received an audience who were in fine party spirit.
Dundas Square & The Pharcyde
For a festival to generously put their big pulling acts on to a public stage for anyone and everyone to come and see goes a long way to explain the super-cool ethos of the NXNE crew. For 4 days the Square played host to big names offering a true party atmosphere to 110,000 people. Crowds arrived early to keep their front-row space but even late-comers were rewarded with big screens and lighting shows you could see way at the back meaning non of the action could be missed. Sunday night we said goodbye to the festival with a fun performance by The Pharcyde.
Some of our band highlights included…
Crocodiles - Hints of The Jesus Mary Chain, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Ravonettes blend to make this sharp dressed post-punk San Diego based duo.
Action Makes (Toronto) Psychedelic Flower Garage Blues Punk from local Rock and Roll soon to be heroes
Super Geek League (Seattle) Motown and Metal collide in a goofy shock-rock fun fest
Black Light White Light (Copenhagen, Denmark) dark and hazy neo-psychedelic aceness from Denmark
The White Eyes (Taipei City, Taiwan) “We don’t want your heart, just come and let us lick your eyes.”
Ty Segall (San Francisco) Spirited DIY garage psych punk with more hooks than a fishermans hat
Ambisonic (Toronto) Theremins, Stylophones, banjos and electronics collide to make one great groove laden noise