NXNE: North By Northeast Festival

  • Dates June 2016 (dates to be announced)
  • Location Various venues
  • Official site NXNE.com

North by Northeast (NXNE) has become the Canadian festival destination for emerging artists and major-label headliners, for music filmmakers and for digital interactive innovators bridging the gap between technology and the arts. Consisting of five event-packed streams – NXNE Music, NXNE Film, NXNE Interactive, NXNE Comedy, and NXNE Art – the festival creates an essential gathering spot for artists, industry professionals and fans.

Over the course of five sleepless days and nights, NXNE Music offers the hottest music and the freshest music-related ideas-all within a few kilometres of each other. NXNE 2015 presents international, national and local musical acts at 46 official festival venues in downtown Toronto. No wonder it’s the most anticipated summer music event in Canada!

For film aficionados, NXNE Film screens the year’s best music-themed features, documentaries, shorts, and experimental films from around the world. Directors, producers, actors and musicians often attend the screenings – many of which are world or Canadian premieres.

NXNE Interactive (NXNEi) is a digital interactive media conference like no other. Bringing together content-creating artists, tech entrepreneurs, digital marketing gurus, web business experts, and social media aficionados for four days of workshops and presentations, it explores the newest ideas about the intersection between creativity and the interactive world.

Finally, NXNE Comedy and NXNE Art are the two most recent streams to be recognized at the festival. Check out dozens of standup, sketch and improvisatory comics representing the best of contemporary comedy. Then admire countless art exhibits, projections, and installations at a dozen different locations around the city.

North By Northeast Turns 21: Twenty-One Reasons Why the 2015 NXNE Lineup Rocked

North By Northeast – Canada’s answer to the South by Southwest Festival – turned 21 in 2015, and as promised, delivered the musical goods.

In honour of the festival’s 21st birthday, we’ve put together a list of twenty-one reasons why the 2015 lineup rocked. Besides being THE Canadian music festival, NXNE 2015 offered twenty-one more reasons to get yourself to Toronto for North by Northeast.

Twenty-One Reasons Why the 2015 NXNE Lineup Rocked

Reason #1: It Was Eclectic… to Say the Least.

If you think the NXNE lineup is nothing but indie rockers, sit tight – you’re in for a surprise. North By Northeast has always featured a decent mix of genres, but the 2015 festival was an especially eclectic mix-bag of musical goodness.

From hard rock to fresh rap, heavy electronic beats to pop, punk, and even – wait for it – black metal, the 2015 lineup served up a serious smorgasbord of talented acts.

Reason #2: Two Words – Odonis Odonis.

If one of your main reasons for hitting up NXNE 2015 was a little band called Odonis Odonis, you’re not alone.

This talented TO trio burned up the NXNE stage for the second year in a row, throwing down their heavy-charged surf-rock-punk sound (or as front-man Dean Tzenos calls it, “industrial shoegaze”) to the head-banging of fans old and new.

Reason #3: Totally Free Shows at Yonge-Dundas Square.

The only thing better than good live music? Good live music that doesn’t cost a dime.

Every year, NXNE offers up that sweet musical combo with two nights of free, all-ages shows at Yonge-Dundas Square. The 2015 YDS shows were headlined by Canadian indie rockers The New Pornographers, promoting their August 2014 album Brill Bruisers. Who else was there? Fellow Canucks Dilly Dally and American rock duo Best Coast.

Reason #4: Action Bronson.

We think Mr. Wonderful deserves to be a “reason” all his own, and not just because his rhymes are complex yet raw, and his stage presence is massive to say the least. With Action Bronson, every show’s a little bit insane, and that’s the way he likes it.

A beat-dropping chef rapping about roasted rack of lamb over a classic ‘90s sound? We think that’ll keep those NXNE appetites satisfied.

Reason #5: That Next-Day Ear-Ringing Goodness: There Are Always Loud, Adrenaline-Pumping Acts, Too.

Punk? Heavy Metal? At NXNE? We’re surprised, too, but hey – “eclectic mix-bag”, remember?

They may be wildly different genres, but what ties these two sets of fans together is their love of loud, in-your-face, blood-pumping music. NXNE 2015 delivered all that and more, with the likes of punk acts White Lung, Obliterations, Iceage, and Alice Glass of Crystal Castles fame.

For the metal-heads, U.S. doom metal giants Pentagram screamed through their Canadian debut, while black-metallers Deafheaven and Brooklynites Liturgy painted it black on stage.

Reason #6: Pitchfork Hosted a Hot Showcase.

Pitchfork brought the goods, with a showcase fit for Canada’s hottest music festival. Who was there? Long Beach rapper Vince Staples, L.A. folk singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt, the hard-to-musically-pin-down Amen Dunes, experimental metal band Sannhet, and more.

By the looks of it, Pitchfork is ran with the “mix-bag” theme, and honestly, we’d expect nothing less.

Reason #7: The Toronto Talent Was Tight…

We’ve already raved about Odonis Odonis, but they’re not the only Toronto talent that represented our city at NXNE 2015.

Fellow Buzz Records artists Anamai and Dilly Dally repped TO, as well as heavy metallers Cauldron, indie/electronic composer Lydia Ainsworth, and of course, the always in-your-face Alice Glass. Not bad for a city of 2.6 mil.

Reason #8: …and So Was the Canadian Content.

When it comes to Canadian talent, Toronto is not the only city that delivers.

Case in point: Montreal’s Majical Cloudz, No Joy, and USA Out Of Vietnam; Vancouver’s White Lung and (of course) The New Pornographers; Victoria’s Aidan Knight; and Winnipeg’s Mise en Scene.

How’s that for cross-country talent?

Reason #9: Things Will Get a Little Psychedelic With Real Estate (the Band).

Real Estate brought hazy sound and spectacles-and-sneakers look to the stage to the delight of fans old and new.

But don’t judge these indie kids by the way they dress – casual sneakers aside, they know how to sell out a show, and we think their NXNE gig was no exception.

Reason #10: Seriously Talented Songstresses Rocked the House.

NXNE 2015 showcased the skills of several brilliant songstresses, spanning genres and labels to bring down the house.

From the haunting gothic sound of Zola Jesus, to the gritty rap of poet and playwright Kate Tempest, to the electronic/power pop melodies of Betty Who and the suburban-discontent-filled rap of K.Flay, the women of NXNE took no prisoners.

Reason #11: The Clubland Shows Were Hotter Than Ever.

Want to get in on that hot, sticky, sweaty Clubland action? We totally get it.

If your answer’s an emphatic “yes,” you’ve got artists like Deafheaven, Bishop Nehru, White Lung, Obliterations, and San Fermin at venues like The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern, Adelaide Hall, Smiling Buddha, and more.

Reason #12: Zola Jesus Brought That Haunting Beauty.

She’s downright weird (in the best way possible), and she brought her hauntingly beautiful brand of electronic-pop-goth flavour to the NXNE stage.

Zola Jesus (real name Nika Roza Danilova) has been described as a mix of Kate Bush, Joy Division, Florence Welch, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, and her inspiration ranges from the Dead Kennedys and Talking Heads to philosophy, Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche.

“I love the feeling when you hear a song that is so overwhelming and powerful it makes your veins hurt,” she explained in a 2010 SXSW interview. “I’d like to write one of those songs one day.”

We think she’s managed to write a few of those songs already.

Reason #13: A Strong Set of Hip Hop and Rap Acts Mixed Fresh Faces and Classic Acts Alike.

There’s never a lack of talented rappers and hip hop artists at NXNE, and 2015 was no exception.

Apart from the aforementioned Action Bronson, who else was on the docket? Rapper and producer Ty Dolla $ign (yup, that’s a dollar sign in his name), the convention-breaking Tink, sibling duo Rae Sremmurd, rising stars Bishop Nehru and Uniiqu3, and more.

Reason #14: As Usual, There Was No Shortage of Indie Rock and Pop Sound.

Ah, indie – the backbone of NXNE.

Who represented that all-important genre this year? We’ve already mentioned the New Pornographers, Real Estate, and Best Coast – what we haven’t mentioned is that Blonde Redhead and Glass Animals were there too.

We think that’s enough to keep things totally indie.

Reason #15: Baths, Majical Cloudz and Lydia Ainsworth Repped the Electronic Acts.

On the electronic front, futurepop-glitch-chillwave artist Baths, lounge-indie-electro act Lydia Ainsworth, and Majical Cloudz – the side-project of Canadian singer-songwriter Devon Welsh – kept things super chill.

(If that’s too much genre-hopping for you, don’t worry – just enjoy the music.)

Reason #16: The New Pornographers Made It a Celebration.

Here’s another Yonge-Dundas Square act that deserves its own shoutout, because, well, they’re just that good.

It’s been four years since TNP dropped a new album, but between day jobs, side projects and everything else they’re juggling, we’re just glad they were at NXNE at all. Vocalist and guitarist A.C. Newman describes their new record as “a celebration” – a spirit they brought to Yonge-Dundas Square!

Reason #17: Indie Wasn’t the Only Rock on the Docket.

A Place to Bury Strangers (it’s a band, we swear) along with a host of other rockers provided the electric guitar solos, and kept rockers happy at NXNE 2015.

With the likes of Coliseum, Lower Dens, the Gories, Heems, and more, we think there was enough to go around.

Reason #18: Angel Olsen Brought the Folk Flavour.

Those who prefer acoustic to electric enjoyed folk-rock singer-songwriter Angel Olsen, who brought that raw, acoustic folk flavour to the stage for all the hippie souls at NXNE.

Reason #19: Ex-Crystal Castles Singer Alice Glass Flew Solo.

Sometimes, it’s just time to steer away from the pack – or, in Alice Glass’ case, go full lone wolf.

In one of her first solo appearances since the breakup of Crystal Castles, Glass showcased her solo talent this summer with a turned-up DJ set at NXNE.

Reason #20: Tink Made Worlds Collide With Her Feminist Rhymes.

Feminism and rap – now that’s a pair of words you don’t often see in the same sentence.

Timbaland’s talented protégé Tink made those worlds collide on the NXNE stage, laying down her no-nonsense rhymes (dealing with everything from police brutality to cheating men) on the festival stage.

Reason #21: Northby Advanced Made It Easier to Soak up That Lineup.

Don’t you wish there was an easier way to get in on the action? There is: cue Northby Advanced.

Ditch that mile-long line (and evade the bouncer’s ominous stares) by picking up advanced tickets for select shows. These will guarantee your admission, so you can forget about everything – except the music.

NXNE on Twitter

NXNE on Facebook

Featured Video: Holiday Trailer 2015

The holiday season in Toronto is a time for family, friends, fun and festivity. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the city transforms into a wonderland filled with sparkling lights, outdoor skating rinks, snow-covered parks and festive window displays.

Find more Toronto videos on our official YouTube channel.