Preview: NXNE 2014

By on Tuesday, 17th June 2014 at 9:00 am

Header: Press photo, J. Spaceman of Spiritualized, via Press Here

North by Northeast Festival, aka NXNE, is Canada’s version of Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) and is billed in the press as “the most anticipated summer music event in Canada”. The Music and Interactive portions of the festival begin tomorrow in Toronto and run through the weekend, but the event has already begun celebrating its 20th year with the opening of the Film portion on the 13th of June, the Art portion on the 16th and the Comedy portion on the 17th.

While Canadian and American acts dominate the Music lineup, there are also several British and international acts to be found on the docket. The usual alternative, electronic and singer/songwriter genres are represented, along with a handful of acts that fall outside those boxes. Music festival headliners include alt rock divas St Vincent and tUnE-yArDs, Brooklyn noise pop artists Sleigh Bells and British space rockers Spiritualized (pictured at top).

Austin-based acts Alejandro Escovedo and Spoon feature prominently in the lineup, as well as a long list of alumni from this year’s SXSW festival, such as buzz band Future Islands, Odonis Odonis, and Speedy Ortiz. Macaulay Culkin’s band, The Pizza Underground, who played SXSW and made a memorable appearance at the Dot To Dot Festival earlier this year, will cross genres between Music and Comedy. Curiously, several antipodean acts are featured on the bill in Toronto as well, including singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett, rocker Kirin J Callinan and alt pop group The Kite String Tangle.

Prominent UK bookings include electronic acts Fuck Buttons, Evian Christ, Golden Teacher and Welsh experimentalist Until The Ribbon Breaks. The always swollen singer/songwriter category is represented by Dan Croll, Jackson Nova, Laurel, Tom Robinson and Tom the Lion. Alt rockers Kins and Camera and hip hop artists Ikes and Kobi Onyame round out the UK contingent, along with two Scottish acts, Edinburgh roots band The Black Diamond Express and traditional folk group Trembling Bells.


Three notable female acts on TGTF’s peripheral radar are Tei Shi, Rachel Ries, and Glasser, the latter of whom editor Mary saw opening for Elbow back in 2011 (read that review here). Rachel Ries is a singer/songwriter from the American Midwest who recently opened for The Young Folk on part of their recent English tour. Vancouver R&B artist Tei Shi was featured on Glass Animals’ ‘Gooey’ EP (reviewed here) and will tour with them next month in America.

While the NXNE Music Festival might not quite reach the dizzy heights of its sister festival SXSW, its heavy focus on Canadian musicians along with its bill of hotly tipped international acts make it a can’t-miss event for music fans in and around Toronto. The Music portion of the festival takes over downtown Toronto for 5 days starting tomorrow, the 18th of June.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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