Toronto’s NXNE Festival turns 20 this year, and the organizers are making a big deal of this fact, acting like longevity alone means everything. We’re not saying we agree or disagree: we’re waiting to see how this festival plays out before we decide, although we do notice diminishing choices in our area. The Ossington and Dundas area usually hosts a lot of the NXNE action, and this year we’ve still got a big presence, however there are some glaring omissions.
NXNE is primarily a music festival, but, following the SXSW model, they are trying to expand it to cover movies, comedy and interactive. Still, in our neighborhood, music is what you’ll get. Which is a shame, as in years past the Lower Ossington Theatre played host to comedy events, providing a little variety. This may simply be because the LOT is full – which wouldn’t be surprising considering the popularity of their shows.
Another sad loss, in our opinion, is that The Painted Lady was removed as a venue this year. As they were told, the organizers were paring down the list of venues and they didn’t make the cut. This is unfortunate, as we’ve seen some great performances in that little bar – plus you can’t beat the staff or the location! The Painted Lady isn’t cutting back their schedule, though: there’s music every night, including FUNxNE with Papermaps and more on Wednesday, June 18.
The venues which are participating in NXNE are all great local spots which we are sure will host great music. NXNE started June 13 and runs through next Sunday, June 22.
The Dakota Tavern has NXNE shows from Wednesday, June 18 through Saturday, June 21. The focus is usually music with a country influence, but you never know! One year we saw an Icelandic blues band and they were a blast!
The Garrison is one of the bigger local venues and the bands which play here range from synth-pop to super loud metal to everything in between. They too are hosting shows from Wednesday night through Saturday.
A new official venue this year is The Edward Day Gallery on Queen West just next to MOCCA. If you’re looking for the venue on the NXNE website or app, you won’t find it under it’s name because that would be too easy. No, it’s labelled The NXNE Festival Village at Edward Day Gallery – it’s very intuitive like that! Stupid names aside, we saw a free Stars show there a few festivals ago, and it’s indoor/outdoor space is a great place for live music. There are night shows there Thursday and Friday, Macauley Culkin’s Velvet Underground cover band plays Friday morning, and there’s a DIY Label and Art Fair, with bands, on Sunday afternoon.
Trinity Bellwoods Park once again plays host to some FREE concerts, thanks to the fine folks behind The Great Heart Festival. From Thursday – Sunday, musicians will be performing free unplugged concerts in our favorite park. Just look for the group of people sitting on blankets or the grass and listening for the beautiful sounds. Artists include The Wooden Sky from Toronto and Wake Island from Montreal.
Other local venues involved in NXNE are The Great Hall, serving as both a comedy and a music venue, and The Drake Hotel Underground, both on Queen West.