NXNE 2017 provided an indie option on an entertainment-filled weekend in the city. Between Toronto’s pride events, U2 in town, these festival revelers had a place to enjoy local and international acts. Although, throughout the festival it was evident the 3-day bash was competing with other events in lower than expected numbers nonetheless, NXNE provided a range of acts to witness live. On the opening day, the line-up consisted of GTA bred acts like Cold Specks, EMP with American rapper Post Malone closing the night.
Along with music, the festival provided ample food choices in food trucks lining the Port Lands as well as, a humble carnival area with two free rides. In the past years where NXNE would pack Yonge-Dundas Square for free shows and neighbouring downtown venues, ultimately, the feel of the festival was corporate-heavy. In times where Toronto has lost various music festivals like Edgefest, Riot Fest, Warped Tour and others, NXNE continues to seek a resurgence amplifying the festival’s relevance in a city struggling to find its musical groove.
Day two also provided local acts to enjoy as KID hit the stage, other acts from coast to coast touched down in the city as Montreal’s KAYTRANADA brought a lively DJ set with his remixes and renditions. Earlier, American acts like MUNA and Bleachers took the stage as well, Tinie Tempah from London.
On day three, set times were pushed back as a storm watch impeded the final day of festivities. Regardless, the show went on as the skies cleared and the sun shined brightly on the horizon. A major highlight of the festival came in the set of New Orleans own The Soul Rebels with featuring MC Talib Kweli, the horn section played a blistering set that had the crowd on their feet and enjoying the intricate sounds. With many messages paying respect to fallen MCs like Prodigy of Mobb Deep, it was clear the artists came to share their soul through the connection of music. Another spectacular set came from LIZZO, the boisterous singer brought her singles “Phone” and “Worship” to her set. The crowd was engaged from the opening to the end of the set, with the singer inviting festival goers to dance on stage including a young girl enjoying the energetic set. Finally, Passion Pit, the indie rockers from Boston concluded the 2017 edition of the festival, as the front-row fan base and throughout the crowd, many sang along word for word to lead singer, Michael. An observation as NXNE featured many female-fronted acts like The Regrettes, Sleigh Bells amongst others; in future years it would be a sight to see for more inclusive acts especially in headlining spots.
As NXNE closes it’s 2017 edition, one hopes these are lessons to be learned as the presence of music festivals in the city fluctuates, here’s to hoping the city embraces what music can do and implements sustainable planning for live music events.