The Top 5 Artists of NXNE

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally got around to sharing my experience of North by Northeast Music and Interactive Festival in the most accessible way possible. Below, IN PARTICULAR ORDER, are the best shows I saw from those four days in Toronto.

5. I HATE TODD and Oneiroi at Hideout – This was our first taste of music from the festival and it was really cool to simply chill in a bar and listen to the music, gauging its quality and determining if they’d make a good show for the Union. This is what we (myself and my fellow WUD Music members) were put on this earth to do. Anyway, what a better way to kick off our journey than with some Canadian talent? Oneiroi was a young rock band that had only been together for six months before this performance, but there music was solid and had potential. While we only stayed for a portion of the set Toronto band I HATE TODD had in store, their lead singer immediately reminded me of Wayne Coyne, a violinist was the most unique piece from their personnel, and their alternative sound got me excited to check out The Moves, Pt. 1 once I got back home.

Danny Brown
Turn up for Daniel bruh bruh.

4. Danny Brown at Mod Club Theater – Old has been one of my favorite albums since “Side A (Old)” hit my eardrums last fall, so why WOULDN’T I see Danny Brown a second time given the chance? I last saw him at the Majestic Theater in Madison in late April, so his set list two months later was near identical, focusing on bangers like “Smokin & Drinkin” and “Blunt After Blunt” to keep the crowd turnt up. And trust me, while the crowd seemed more tame compared to April from front row stage left, this show was TURNT as usual. Another rapper by the name of L31f spit some bars and twerked like a boss before Daniel’s set; I could really see him as someone WUD Music brings to Madison soon.

3. Tartar Control and Sumo Cyco at Bovine Sex Club – First off, yes: there is in fact a bar called Bovine Sex Club. Second off, rolling into this place at 12:30 in the morning for the heaviest music I heard all week was the craziest and most awesome thing to cap off what was the best night of shows by far. I’m not sure who was the actual headliner that night, but both acts were equally talented musically. Sumo Cyco was already going through their set when we arrived. While the music was solid, I found the drumming to be particularly impressive. I found out later that Skye Sweetnam was the female front for the band, which retroactively makes this experience all the more interesting. But that’s just the beginning. Starting at 1 AM were two Mormons and their robot (laptop) giving us a warm hello, and then breaking into the craziest most unexpected hardcore vocals possible. The parity between their musical style and lyrical content was literally perfect. Apart from getting thrown out, it basically went down like the video below.

2. Lizzo on the MiO Squirtcar – Again, yes: this venue was called the MiO Squirtcar. To elaborate, we got on a streetcar/trolley type of public transportation  that was filled with free MiO-spiked water bottles and jammed out to an artist by name of Lizzo. And again, I was blown away. Based strictly upon the name “Lizzo” and the potential restrictions of a performer on a streetcar, I assumed we were seeing some electronic music. Instead, I was treated to a R&B and hip hop fusion performance that, at this moment, I can only compare to Beyonce. Obviously Beyonce is a superstar and can’t have any legitimate competition in terms of likability and popularity right now, but given Lizzo’s genre, this is all I can compare it to in order to communicate how dope the show was. Great personality, performance, gritty rap verses, singing voice, everything. Perfection. Literally listening to her album LIZZOBANGERS right now and switched out the photo I took for the Spotify embed. LISTEN TO IT.

 1. Pusha T and Future Islands at House of Vans on Vice Island – We took a ferry for 45 minutes and then walked a man made path for another 15 minutes, but once we got to the clearing that was the “House of Vans” it was completely worth it. I finally discovered that Future Islands incorporates Death Metal-esque vocals into their new guitar-pop sound, and I thought it was amazingly unique. Then we found out there was an open bar, and then an undisclosed number of drinks later, we turned up to rapper Pusha T, who performed everything from his newest material on My Name Is My Name to his G.O.O.D. Music features on Dark Fantasy and Cruel Summer. Someone at North by who’s seen Push before told me he wasn’t as hyped as he normally is for his shows, but I didn’t know any better, nor did I care. Real dope dealers for real.

Peace, Toronto.
Peace, Toronto.

If you were at NXNE and want to reminisce on the experience or have other questions about the long weekend for me, hit me up on Twitter @AndrewMackens. I’m out.

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