NXNE Best Bets

With over 800 artists at more than 50 venues, here are Indie88's 16 must-see acts at NXNE this year

NXNE kicks off today for its 20th year. What began as a 3-day discovery festival for new music is now a 10-day event showcasing music, film, comedy, art, and an interactive conference. From June 13-22, Toronto will be home hundreds of artists and shows, happening at over 50 venues all around Toronto. Last week we highlighted some of the most anticipated local acts not to miss at this year’s festival. Below is our full list of Best Bets for NXNE 2014.


June 21 @ Yonge Dundas Square
With their first new album since 2010 set to drop on August 5th, this is your opportunity to hear new Spoon songs before anyone else. If that isn’t reason enough, this is a totally free show.

The Wet Secrets

June 19 @ Rivoli

Quite possibly the best dressed band on the scene today, Alberta’s own The Wet Secrets started making music back in 2008. They refer to themselves as a five-piece marching rock and roll dance band that sounds like “the kind of music you could expect to hear if The Stranglers piggybacked Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass through the Rose Parade.”


June 18 @ Smiling Buddha
June 20 @ The Horseshoe Tavern
June 22 @ Edward Day Gallery
Toronto’s punk quartet Greys are getting ready to release If Anything… later this month. NXNE is your opportunity to see the group tear into new material that most likely hasn’t been played live yet.

Danny Brown

June 19 @ Yonge Dundas Square
June 20 @ Mod Club Theatre
One of the most talked about Hip-Hop artist’s right now, Danny Brown is known for his unique style and epic freestyles. His live show is largely talked about and there are options to see Metro Time’s artist of the year.


June 19 @ Massey Hall
You really haven’t experienced Merrill Garbus’ tUnE-yArDs until you have seen her live. She uses loop pedals to layer her interments over top of one another to create a huge sound for just her and a bassist. At a venue like Massy Hall, it’s hard to imagine tUnE-yArDs sounding any less than incredible.


June 20 @ Mod Club
June 21 @ Yonge Dundas Square
Alvvays has burst onto the scene in the last few months. A couple songs have already captured our attention (“Adult Diversion” and “Archie, Marry Me”) but it’s their upcoming full length that has us really excited. This is your chance to say “I saw them before they were huge”.

PS. I Love You

June 19 @ Mod Club Theatre
June 21 @ Bruise Cruise
Kingston, Ontario’s two piece PS. I Love You gained a significant amount of attention with their debut record Meet Me at the Muster Station. Not only did Pitchfork give it a favourable review but it was long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize as well. With a new record dropping on July 22, catch the two rip into new tracks before they’re even available.


June 21 @ Lee’s Palace
There hasn’t been a Metz club show in Toronto for quite some time – last time they played Toronto was to thousands of people opening for Weezer at Downsview Park. If you’re looking for a loud way to end your night, this is the show to go to.

Future Islands

June 19 @ Vice Island
June 21 @ Tattoo
After crushing their performance on Letterman, Future Islands have been getting a ton of attention. They have genuine passion that comes through in their performances and this is also your chance to see Future Islands… on an island!


June 19 @ Massey Hall
June 21 @ The Great Hall
Weaves came together because they were sick of what they were doing and wanted to be different, and different works. The four piece combines pop sensibilities with noisy weirdness that is best seen live.

Benjamin Booker

June 20 @ The Horseshoe Tavern
June 21 @ Silver Dollar
There is a reason Jack White chose this man to be the opener on his upcoming world tour. Before he crushes huge shows in stadiums all over North America, you can watch him in tincy tiny little venues that are sure to be packed.

Mac Demarco

June 20 @ The Opera House
June 21 @ Yonge Dundas Square
With Salad Days just released, NXNE is Toronto’s time to witness the new tracks live for the first time. Whether you catch him at The Opera House or ‘Y&D Square’ it’s sure to be one of the best things you witness during the festivities.


June 21 @ The Cameron House
It’s been just over a year since their second full length record Bursting Visions was released, so you’ll hear all those goodies and maybe some new stuff. Zeus may be from Toronto, but we don’t see them nearly as much as we want to. Take advantage while you have the opportunity.

St. Vincent

June 20 @ Yonge Dundas Square
Only huge artists get to step foot on the SNL stage and just months ago St. Vincent performed on it. Her self-titled record has catapulted her into the limelight because of the energy and the show she puts on with it. You’re able to see one of the most talked about artists of the year for free, don’t pass it up.

Joel Plaskett Emergency

June 21 @ The Horseshoe Tavern
Joel Plaskett is back after his big show at The Danforth Music Hall last year and he’s bringing the Emergency with him. You can witness one of Canada’s most beloved singer-songwriters in one of Canada’s most beloved venues. Joel Plaskett at ‘the shoe’, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Ryan Hemsworth

June 20 @ Adelaide Hall
Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ryan Hemsworth has mastered the art of sampling. He caught Last Gang Records’ attention and they quickly made him a part of the family. The DJ will be spinning dance jams all night so if you’re looking for a change of pace, this is a safe bet.


Odds and Rah Rah, June 20 @ Horseshoe Tavern
Celebrate five fantastic years of Hidden Pony Records. The fun starts at 12 pm to 5:00 pm. An official NXNE Day Party, the event is open to NXNE wristbands and badges and will feature performances from Rah Rah and Odds. Plus, uniquely curated art pieces, great prizes – please drop by and celebrate with us.

If the above list is not enough, here are some other great bets:

Bidiniband | June 21 @ Horseshoe Tavern
The Cliks | June 18 @ Mod Club Theatre
The Danks | June 20 @ Horseshoe Tavern
Dearly Beloved | June 18 @ Mod Club Theatre, June 20 @ Bovine Sex Club
The Golden Dogs | June 21 @ The Rivoli
Hands and Teeth | June 18 @ Mod Club Theatre, June 20 @ Bovine Sex Club
Julie Fader | June 19 @ Silver Dollar Room
KC Accidental | June 20 @ M for 159 Manning
Ketamines | June 20 @ Smiling Buddha
Lindi Ortega/Harlan Pepper/Lee Harvey Osmond | June 19 @ Horseshoe Tavern
Michael Rault | June 19 @ Handlebar, June 21 @ St. James Gazebo, June 21 @ Smiling Buddha
Odonis Odonis | June 19 @ Yonge and Dundas Square, June 19 @ Garrison
Sam Cash and the Romantic Dogs | June 21 @ Cameron House – Kind Snack Stage
The Wilderness of Manitoba | June 21 @ Horseshow Tavern

Amos the Transparent | June 18 @ Rivoli
The Barr Brothers | June 20 @ Massey Hall
Fevers | June 18 @ The Boat, June 19 @ Rivoli
Gay Nineties | June 19 @ Handlebar, June 19 @ Rivoli
Kalle Mattson | June 19 @ Handlebar, June 20 @ Berczy Park, June 21 @ St.James Gazebo
Rah Rah | June 20 @ Horseshoe
Rhye | June 21 @ Horseshoe
Sidney York | June 19 + 20 @ Rivoli

Courtney Barnett | June 20 + 21 +22 @ Silver Dollar Room
Fuck Buttons | June 19 @ Horseshoe Tavern
Joywave | June 19 @ The Drake Hotel Underground, June 21 @ GAP
Juicy J | June 22 @ Yonge and Dundas Square
Perfect Pussy | June 21 @ The Great Hall
Pusha T | June 19 @ House of Vans @ Vice Island
Sleigh Bells | June 19 @ Yonge and Dundas Square
Speedy Ortiz | June 19 @ Mod Club Theatre
Spiritualized | June 20 @ Massey Hall
Xiu Xiu | June 20 @ M for 159 Manning, June 20 @ The Great Hall