NXNE Recap: Shows, Beer, These Electric Lives….Poutine

With this final summation, we’ve come to the end of the recaps regarding our inaugural NXNE experience. I don’t know if these missives have been enjoyable or annoying, but I’ve personally enjoyed writing them. We’ve each written some closing thoughts about our experience, starting with Andy, and we hope to be able to do it again next year. If you didn’t happen to like any of the recaps of our week and/or were simply avoiding them, we should get back to regularly scheduled programming starting tomorrow.

Andy: All told, I was very pleased with my NXNE experience.  My chief complaint – which isn’t really a complaint as much as it is an observation – is that there should be more shows during the day.  Dave and I would get up and have nothing to do until 7PM, when we headed out to our first show of the night.  I’m not saying that it’s possible, but having a few venues offer extended earlier hours – say, concerts starting at 2PM, would have been a cool thing.  I think we would have been able to see more bands that we had planned on.

Beyond that, I wish we wold have taken more advantage of the festival headquarters – but I don’t know what really went on there.  I guess I wish we had at least seen if it was worthwhile.  And, we should have gone to a couple of films.  I don’t even know when films played.  If it was in the afternoon, then we really missed out.

I was happy we got to meet up with Chris who runs The Ambitious C, but there were a few other people we should have tried harder to meet up with.  We were all busy seeing shows and interviewing, so I guess I can’t complain too much.  But it would have been nice to meet more of our fellow bloggers while we were there.  I liked seeing Toronto from a different side – not touristy, but how I would if I lived there – hitting good venues, seeing great bands, etc.  And I think that’s the point of any good festival to make the attendees feel somewhat at home.  I will definitely be back next year if they’ll still have me.

Dave: For Andy and I, spontaneity ruled the day throughout our North by Northeast music festival experience. We had designs on seeing a number of specific bands and showcases that failed to come to fruition due to a multitude of circumstances. Missing shows usually boiled down to a venue being too far away to reasonably walk to following a show we had just witnessed, or more likely there existed another exciting event that we became aware of that was enticing enough for us to scrap our previously held plans. The two of us are pretty easy going, and in reality we didn’t have many showcases we absolutely had to attend. We mostly just went with the flow throughout the days and let things happen organically. At the outset we had a list of shows to choose from and a basic plan of attack, but with no prior festival experience and a relatively poor lay of the land, our soft plans were frequently broken. I certainly would have loved to see The Besnard Lakes, Wavves, and Avi Buffalo, and I really wish on our last evening we had gotten in to see Surfer Blood along with Les Savy Fav. In the end however, I don’t think I would have changed anything that we did do, to experience something else we ultimately did not. I’m not a regrets type of guy, so I have truly nothing to complain about with this whole experience.

As made abundantly clear in previous recaps, we learned quickly that walking wasn’t necessarily the way to navigate the streets and venues of Toronto for this event. Toronto is expansive and filled to the brim with cool venues spread out over the expanses of the city. The venues we visited are revered as classics and deservedly so. As opposed to being tourists, because of our Toronto connections we got to experience a bit of how the locals do things when an incredibly cool music festival comes to town. I only wish the vibrancy of the city, with its myriad offerings of interesting stores, galleries, venues, pubs and restaurants, is something Rochester could match.

We had a great time meeting various people and hanging out with These Electric Lives in their home environs. We had some good beer, tasty food (poutine in particular), and saw some excellent concerts. We both had a great time and formed lasting memories of our first NXNE experience. We’ve told an array of stories thus far, but in closing I’ll share a final experience that helped frame our week as well the development of our inclusion in the music world that we previously would not have been privy to. After all, we are simply music fans who started a blog, and because of that were given press passes to cover an amazing week of excellent concerts featuring a huge number of buzzy bands in a pretty cool city.

At the tail end of the Young Empires and Japandroids showcase, on our way out the door, Gary ran into a fellow he knew and promptly began animatedly chatting with him. After speaking with him like long lost brothers for a few moments, Gary introduced us and shortly afterwards the four of us made our way to the exit as the show concluded. As is my wont, I neglected to make real note of the name I was just told. As we began the trek back to wherever home was individually, Gary and this friend were engaging in jovial banter while Andy and I trailed behind, eavesdropping brief snippets of their conversation. Eventually during our walk this guy veered off and left the three of us remaining on our own treks to bed. Gary then enlightened us as to whom the former member of our walking troupe was, repeating his name and introducing him as Jimmy Shaw to provide clarification for some of the insider bit of the Toronto music scene we had overheard. Take a look at his Wikipedia page for a glimpse into how seminal he is in the Canadian and indie music world. His web of connections reveals how influential an individual he, and really the entire city of Toronto, happen to be in terms of the music we at the blog, and by extension you, listen to.

The whole experience was wonderful and we hope this is the beginning of something bigger for our site. Thanks for reading and indulging all of our write-ups amidst thinly veiled bragging. Until next year.

  • Deucemckenzie

    I can relate to Andy's comment about earlier shows. I feel the same way about Noise Pop out in SF. If they had some earlier timeslots, it would be possible to see more acts. I'm strongly considering replacing Noise Pop with NxNE next year on my festival calendar…looks like a good time.

  • Deucemckenzie

    Oh, yeah…and Poutine needs to make it over the boarder. That stuff is awesome…

  • tympanogram

    Agreed on the Poutine.

    And, I can only imagine that NxNE will continue to grow, which should make it a great time. It tends to cater more to the Canadian market – as it should – but you could fill up the time with bands you've heard of already. I wouldn't recommend it, but you could.