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NXNE Day One: Taverns and Turn Ups

On the first day of NXNE my true love gave to me, a beat musician showcase and a surprised rock group.

Photo of OBGMs courtesy of PA Wilsen

NXNE is a weird event, in that it takes place concurrently with life in a major metropolis. Unlike SXSW, which essentially dedicates a swath of land in Texas to setting up a number of outdoor stages, NXNE takes place within the existing venues scattered throughout the city of Toronto. This not only means that music fans need to traverse across large city blocks to go from one venue to another, but that they have to do it while the regular denizens of Toronto are coming home from work, going grocery shopping, or just doing regular non-music festival shit. There's a benefit to this, as it essentially allows you to take advantage of the existing infrastructure when you get too drunk to navigate a crudely drawn festival map. The downside is that you end up drunkenly playing frogger as you rush to make it to a concert hall two kilometres away to see your favourite band play.


Armed with cab fare and a lanyard, I set out to see as many acts as possible in the short six hour window I had until last call. First up was the Horseshoe Tavern, which housed a rock showcase featuring Low, Dan Croll, Tom the Lion, and Elsa. The night started off with a performance from the Oooh Baby Gimme Mores, a local rock group that kept the crowd engaged throughout thanks to the fact that they handed tambourines into the audience, and because the lead singer busted out a cooking dance halfway through the show. At the end of their set, the bad was surprised with the news that they had been selected to perform at this year's Made In America festival in Philadelphia, causing the rock quartet to understandably lose their shit. If I had a heart, it would have been warmed.

Meanwhile, up the street at The Crawford, a local rap showcase was figuratively tearing down the venue as Dillan Ponders, SeT, and the rest of the Smashmouth crew held their own event. Due to a sudden and surprising decision by another venue to cancel the Smasmouth rap showcase a day before it was set to occur, this concert became the only opportunity fans had to see the raucous crew perform to a crowd.

After seeing the rapping combustible ball of energy known as SeT rap, even I felt exhausted, so I ventured to 323 King for refreshments. Nothing exactly musical happened, since this was one of those artsy-fartsy NXNE events, but the Airplane Boys and Kardinal Offishal were both in attendance, so it counts. For the record, Kardinal Offishal wore a bright floral dress shirt that he attempted to match with his fitted hat. The event also had a bunch of free food that was way fancier than anything I've eaten recently, so I made sure to eat so much that it gave me a tummy ache. Worth it.


The reclusive Tommy Kruise, photo courtesy of Shelbellzz

The night came to an end at The Hoxton, which became home to the most interesting beat musicians in Canada for the night. Jacques Greene and his animated dance moves warmed up the crowd, causing a number of people to catch the holy spirit and spill their overpriced drinks onto neighbouring concert goers, who didn't seem to mind at all, on account of all the drugs they were on. As the crowd peaked in their excitement, Quebec diplomat Tommy Kruise took to the stage to serenade everyone with the sweet rhythmics of trap music. Ryan Hemsworth was also in attendance, alternating between being curled up on the couch, and engaging in needlessly complicated choreography with his bros.

For the first day of the festival, this was a nice way to kick things off. I managed to see everything I wanted with only some misses (I wish I saw LIZZO on a streetcar), but until I perfect that cloning machine, there's not much that can be done. Tonight promises to be an even greater schedule, with The Pizza Underground performing on the very same streetcar, Odonis Odonis and Danny Brown playing Yong & Dundas Square, and Weaves at Massey Hall. Oh, and of course, VICE rented out an island for Pusha T to perform on. Bring your cab fare.

Best Band I Saw Yesterday: The Oh Baby Gimme Mores.

Coolest Band I Saw Yesterday: Those three drunk guys playing "Wonderwall" outside the LCBO.

Arbitrary Weird Story: I unsuccessfully tried paying for a cab with a wristband.

Favourite Compass Direction: North.

Canadian Celebrity Experience: Watching Kardinal Offishal eat one of those mini burgers with a toothpick in it.

Slava P is going to an island today and is praying he comes back - @SlavaP