by Michael Thomas
Tomorrow the insanity of NXNE begins anew, and as usual, there are so many great acts playing that finding the “right” ones can be a daunting task. Here are some of my picks for this year’s festival, and (surprise!) they’re all completely or mostly CanCon.
Tried and Tested
Dance Movie: Halifax group that was my “winner” of last year’s festival as a whole. Emotionally poignant, passionate pop. (Friday, 9 p.m., Dakota Tavern)
Her Harbour: This eerie folk group out of Ottawa, led by the stunning voice of Gabrielle Giguere and a multi-talented group of backup instrumentalists will leave you hypnotized. (Wednesday, 12 a.m., Dakota Tavern)
The Wet Secrets: A highlight of this year’s Wavelength Festival, this Edmonton band is always dressed to the nines and perform some wonderful self-deprecating, bass-driven pop to get you moving. (Thursday, 11 p.m., Dakota Tavern)
Wednesday at the Drake: There’s a great selection of Maritimes talent to be seen on the first big day of music, from Monomyth to Glory Glory to electronic master AA Wallace.
Saturday at the Horseshoe: Normally I’m not one to recommend showcases in one of the most packed venues at every festival, but this one is too good to pass up. The young and dynamic Mo Kenney will kick things off, harmony-laden Wilderness of Manitoba will be there, and there will even be an appearance by one of the bedrocks of the Canadian music industry—none other than Joel Plaskett.
Sunday at Baltic Avenue: Sunday is when everything winds down and there’s little choice, but there’s always one solid showcase that you’d be out of your mind to miss (unless you’re already dead tired from the past four days, in which case I can forgive you). This showcase features a bunch of local talent including The Nursery, Convoys and Montreal’s CTZNSHP.
New and Necessary
Look Vibrant: Frequently unpredictable and catchy pop got our attention back in February, and there’s no doubt they’ll be just as dynamic in the swing of things. (Thursday, 9 p.m., Silver Dollar)
Loopsy Daisy: I admittedly know little about this act, but based on their close collaborations with Saxsyndrum, I can expect no less than something dizzying from them. (Saturday, 10 p.m., Handlebar)
Walrus: This band has put out releases at a feverish pace and are always compelling—they’re now sort of in the psych-pop range. They’ve played the city many times before, but here’s hoping they can get an audience they deserve as a part of a very cool showcase. (Saturday, 12 a.m., Rancho Relaxo)