Flashback Friday Live Music Edition: NXNE 2019

There used to be a thing called festival season in Toronto.  Unfortunately, and surely due to a multitude of factors, many a celebrated summer festival have elected to shut down, leaving music lovers hanging as the heat of the season finally arrived.  Thankfully though, North by North East was not one of them, and it just keeps getting better and better.

I recently published a couple of missives about NXNE’s sister festival, being of course South by South West, the iconic music and arts festival based in Austin, Texas.  While it may have started with the music, SXSW has grown and gone so far beyond just one medium to become a true pillar in the cultural fabric of North America.  It’s the variety of SX that makes me love it so, despite its rampant commercialism and uncanny ability to commodify cultural zeitgeist.  You can say what you will about capitalism and “selling out” but the fact remains that because of how intensely SXSW has built itself up, its ability to attract the best of the best in terms of talent, both established and up and coming, and put them alongside politicians, innovators, entrepreneurs, inventors, educators and everyone in between, and you see the benefit that those resources can create.  It’s a festival that has something for everyone and as such attracts literally everyone to Austin for those few days, bringing vast amounts of intellectual, spiritual, creative and of course monetary currencies along with them.  Many festival-goers and industry folks have lamented in past years that SXSW’s baby Canadian sister (SXSW was founded in 1987, NXNE in 1995) did not hold up to the breadth and depth of its south of the border big sister, and truly as it stands, it can’t.  But, what makes me excited is that perhaps, someday it could, but in its own unique way.

NXNE this year was full of moments of surprise and delight, all punctuated by some fantastic music.   But when it comes to this fest, there is more than meets the eye than just music.  With every passing year since it’s major overhaul back in 2017 the fest adds more variety and entertainment and education opportunities for fans and industry alike, doing a little something bigger and better every time.  As well, NXNE is taking a page from their sister fest’s playbook and getting more creative with sponsorship, attracting new and innovative partners every year, most notably from Canada’s budding cannabis industry (pun intended).  This year NXNE hosted a day of thought-provoking panels as part of their NXNE Talks series (in which yours truly partook!).  Recently the Gaming track of the festival was added, capitalizing on a huge marketplace that’s far more adjacent to music than one might think.  And this year, NXNE literally shut down Yonge Street with the addition of a festival pavillion along with its stand out Yonge and Dundas Square Stage, where huge bands and artist play in the heart of our city and fans and passers-by can enjoy it for free.

The ADDICTED music squad and I were out and about back in June taking in what NXNE had to offer. We were impressed to see such a beautifully diverse range of artists, in so many ways that diversity can exist.  You can see for yourself, check out words and pics below!

Moscow Apartment 

*photos by Cassandra Popescu

 

Cleopatrick

*photos by Cassandra Popescu

*photos by Morgan Hotston

Cold War Kids

I ventured down  to Yonge and Dundas Square with the sole intention of catching Cold War Kids and as usual, they did not disappoint.  Nathan Willett’s voice is an American Institution and it’s always a joy to hear those timeless tunes live.  What I loved most about the show however was the vibe at the square.  It was so relaxed, like maybe everyone was still euphoric from the Raptors win.  People of all ages and walks of life were there for the same reason – to enjoy music.  And Cold War Kids made sure that wonderfully diverse crowd had some great music to enjoy.

*photos by Cassandra Popescu

*photos by Myles Herod

Just John

*photos by Cassandra Popescu

Le1f

*photos by Morgan Hotston

 

 

The Regrettes

*photos by Cassandra Popescu

*photos by Morgan Hotston

Ruben Young

*photos by Cassandra Popescu

Savannah Taylor

*photos by Cassandra Popescu

Santigold

*written by Myles Herod

Headlining Saturday’s NXNE main event, Philly’s Santigold stepped out in otherworldly attire, supported by impeccably dressed, gold jacket, neon-sneaker wearing back-up dancers. It’s just what the audience hoped for, too, with high energy music and Santigold’s eccentric stage presence on full display. Having recently concluded her North American 10 Years Golden Tour– performing her acclaimed self-titled debut in its entirety – NXNE attendees were more than happy to soak up her classic tracks.

Running through fan favorites such as You’ll Find a WayL.E.S. Artistes, and Say Aha, there was no stopping the show’s theatrics. From twerking, karate moves, and jumping jacks, if you name it, they most likely attempted it. Sometimes, breathlessly, even all at once. As for the music itself, with 14 tracks performed in total, Santigold’s unassuming influences of dub reggae, pop, and alt-rock unquestionably left its mark on Toronto’s annual event, with many humming long after the show finished.

*photos by Myles Herod

 

www.nxne.com

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly

Nadia Elkharadly is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Addicted Magazine. Her myriad of addictions include music, fashion, travel, technology, boxing and trying to make the world a better place. Nadia is also a feminist, an animal lover, and a neverending dreamer. Keep up with her on social media through @thenadiae.
Nadia Elkharadly