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NXNE 2013: A Misanthropic And Biased Guide
May your livers be stalwart, your cab drivers honest, and your footwear steel-toed!

NXNE (the dorkier, infinitely more Canadian cousin of SXSW) is about to descend upon Toronto next week, making riding the TTC even more of a nightmare, but getting a drink at 3:30 a.m. a perfectly reasonable proposition. While the festival (which also includes film, visual art, comedy and a huge interactive conference component) kicks off on Monday, June 10th, the music programming (still the largest part of NXNE and featuring the vast majority of its content) gets underway on Wednesday, June 12th, running until Sunday, June 16th (aka NXNE Hangover Day), capped off with the glitz and excess of the Much Music Video Awards.

Gigantic fests like NXNE can be challenging affairs for my breed (i.e., noise-mongering misanthropes who hate both Billy Talent and the National with the fiery passion of a thousand suns). And yet, even this week of ear fatigue and early morning poutine has some excellent selections for grumpy distortion hounds, which is what I intend to present for you, with the odd sprinkling of delicacy for when I am in a whimsical mood. Grab some energy drinks, fill that water bottle with tequila, and break out your good earplugs because there is definitely some heaviness lurking around the edges of NXNE this year. May your livers be stalwart, your cab drivers honest, and your footwear steel-toed.

 

Wednesday, June 12

Artist: Um, me!

Set Time: 8:15 p.m.

Venue: Creatures Creating (822 Dundas St. W.)

Well, this is awkward. I’m going to be reading at Broken Pencil’s Sex & Death showcase, along with Liz Worth, Joey Comeau, Hal Niedzviecki and Aaron Manczyk. There will also be music by Terry Clement, Gregory Pepper and Isaac Paris. If poems about sex and death (and, in my case, supervillains) sound like your cup of spiked tea, do come.

Artist: Vagina Panther

Set Time: 9:00 p.m.

Venue: The Hard Luck Bar (772 Dundas St. W.)

So, this band are called Vagina Panther, which I am pretty sure is also a cologne product tie-in for the forthcoming Anchor Man sequel. With a little bit of Hole’s crusty tone, combined with more mellifluous vocals, even if they didn’t sound rad I’d be obligated to see this set based on their moniker alone.

Artists: Shotgun Cure/ Phantom/ Midnight Malice

Set Times: 11 p.m./ 12 midnight/ 2 a.m.

Venue: The Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen ST. W.)

This trio of thrash metal maniacs is exactly what you need late on a Wednesday night to get your NXNE perpetual hangover working as early into the festival as possible.

Artist: This Hisses

Set Time: 12 midnight

Venue: The Hard Luck Bar (772 Dundas St. W.)

Blending surf noir with gothic hard rock, Winnipeg’s This Hisses consistently knock my socks of with their seductive, lugubrious take on heartbreak. A slap with a velvet glove or a shiv in the back with a glittery knife, they’re as pretty as they are deadly. Not to be missed.

 

Thursday, June 13

Artists: Kontravoid/ Ell V Gore/ No Joy

Set Times: 11 p.m./ 12 midnight/ 2 a.m.

Venue: BLK BOX (1087 Queen Street West)

These three sets are all about weird, deadly energy. Toronto’s Ell V Gore bring the post-punk, dissident aggression, while Kontravoid are a masked, minimalist fusion of electronic and dark industrial. The latest project of former Crystal Castles drummer Cam Findlay, Kontravoid are bleak and ominous, a tightly coiled and weirdly threatening kind of animal. Later, Montreal doom-gazers No Joy are sure to keep a miserable thundercloud roiling beautifully over the audience’s heads.

Artists: Hellaluya/ Teen Tits Wild Wives/ Hussy/ Pretty Mouth

Set Times: 10 p.m./ 11 p.m./ 12 midnight/ 1 a.m.

Venue: The Shop @ Parts & Labour (1566 Queen St. W.)

One of the best places for hardcore shows in Toronto is playing host to four killer sets. This show runs the gamut of spastic aggression, from the noisy guitar and blast beats of Hellaluya, and the avant-punk and folk-grind of Teen Tits Wild Wives to the sticky gothic sludge of Hussy and the grating, punchy violence of Pretty Mouth.

 

Friday, June 14

Artist: Imaginary Cities

Set Time: 9 p.m.

Venue: The Mod Club (722 College St.)

I’m planning on starting my Friday night out with a little gentleness, easing into the noise with something pretty and, dare I say, even tender. Having just released their sophomore effort, Fall of Romance, their set will be driven by strong synths and radiant vocals.

Artist: Shooting Guns

Set Time: 10 p.m.

Venue: Hideout (484 Queen St. W.)

Shooting Guns are the finest psychedelic stoner doom Saskatchewan has ever produced. Their smoky, syrupy intensity and incredibly dense, layered sound defined their debut, 2011’s Born To Deal in Magic: 1952-1976. The heat-haze and hallucinatory weight are sure to make this a killer set.

Artist: Saint Alvia

Set Time: 11 p.m.

Venue: The Hard Luck Bar (772 Dundas St. W.)

Punky, irreverently prurient hard rock straight out of Burlington.

Artist: Odonis Odonis

Set Time: 1 a.m.

Venue: The Garrison (1197 Dundas St. W.)

Every time I see Odonis Odonis live, I am impressed with their ability to perform music that is at once filthy, raucous and unquestionably vicious, but also beautifully structured, with a deep well of tuneful loveliness beneath the noise.

 

Saturday, June 15

Artist: THIGHS

Set Time: 9 p.m.

Venue: Tranzac (292 Brunswick Ave.)

All filth and scuzz in tone, while precise and razor-sharp in execution, there is something profoundly smart-ass and Internet-y about THIGHS that is at once infuriating and irresistible.

Artists: Single Mothers/ catl/ White Lung/ Iceage/ Fucked Up/ Soupcans

Set Times: 9 p.m./ 10 p.m./ 11 p.m./ 12 midnight/ 1 a.m./ 2 a.m.

Venue: The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern (370 Queen St. W.)

You know what, just camp out at the Horseshoe for the night. An excellent punk showcase from start to finish, things kick off with the wild racket of Single Mothers and the acidity of catl. Vancouver’s White Lung (whose Sorry was the best punk record released in Canada last year) are sure to lay waste to the audience, while the chaotic Danes in Iceage always put on a killer show. Toronto punk royalty Fucked Up and ravenous delinquents Soupcans will keep things dirty and wild late into the night.

Artist: Majical Cloudz

Set Time: 12 midnight

Venue: BLK BOX (1087 Queen Street West)

Expect a set driven by urgency. Weird, shivering white noise and pulsing percussion will create an organic, quaking backdrop for the deep, evocative vocals. Go if you’d like to feel some uncomfortably lovely feelings.

 

Sunday, June 16 

Wake up in the late afternoon, have some brunch, pour an entire bottle of wine into one of those Trenti-sized cold beverage containers and go see Ludacris at Yonge-Dundas Square.

____

Natalie Zina Walschots is a poet and music writer based in Toronto, Ontario. Her second book of poetry, DOOM: Love Poems for Supervillains, was published by Insomniac Press this spring. You can follow her on Twitter at @NatalieZed.

For more, follow us on Twitter at @torontostandard, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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