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Choosen ones: local acts worth checking out at NXNE

June 15th, 2010 · No Comments

Purrr play the Bread & Circus June 19. Courtesy Christopher Wadsworth.

By Karen Bliss

More than 2,500 artists applied for a spot at the 2010 North By Northeast music festival, which takes place all over the city from June 14 to 20, so the 650 bands and solo acts that were accepted have obviously been given the thumbs up from the organizers.

“We have a jury that goes through all the [online] Sonicbids [entries] that we receive and then they’re marked by a rating system and at a certain level it will be a no,” explained Yvonne Matsell, director and music programmer of NXNE. “As soon as they’ve gone through them all, I usually come in from January and start working on the schedule.”

Matsell, who is also the year-round booker at the El Mocambo, works alongside NXNE’s Crispin Giles on the enormous task of placing the 650 acts in the 40-something venues, determining who plays where, when, and if the line-up makes sense.

“Generally, we have a master list of the clubs we’ve used in the last couple of years and then we’ll go through them and decide, ‘Does this work again?’” says Matsell. “Sometimes, some of the places have closed but then others open too. So it’s a case of going to check out the new clubs, or the club people will contact us.”

The artists come from all over Canada and many from the United States, but there are also some that make the trip from Israel, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, England, Australia, Hungary, Norway, Iceland and France. But if you want to stay strictly local Matsell has some recommendations.

On June 17, Matsell says the alt. folk/country band Elliott Brood and indie rockers Dinosaur Bones at The Horseshoe Tavern should be a good one.

That same night, Modernboys Moderngirls, fronted by Kensington resident Akira Alemany, play The Boat at 1 a.m. “He’s a hardworking guy, that one,” she said. “It’s indie pop rock.”

If you can’t make it out to that show, there is also the chance to check them out at The Rivoli the following night at 2 a.m.

Also on the 17th is a great bill at Lee’s Palace, called Outlaws & Gunslingers featuring such notable singer-songwriters as Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, Hawksley Workman, Colleen Brown, Justin Rutledge, Oh Susanna, Andy Maize, and Amelia Curran.

On June 18, Rancho Relaxo hosts a “very cool psychedelic blues rock band” called Revolvers and the El Mo has the much loved indie pop/rockers The Golden Dogs.

The Cadillac Lounge hosts “a lot of good stuff,” that same night, including The Heartbroken, which is the new band formed from Damhnait Doyle (Shaye); and folk act Flashlight Radio, comprised of singer Suzy Wilde and bassist Ben Whitely, the offspring of Nancy White and Ken Whitely, respectively. The following night, the same venue has highly touted rock band Five Star Trailer Park and a jaunt east on Queen at the Horseshoe CBC Night features Attack In Black, now based in Toronto.

Also on June 19, producer/composer Byron Wong hosts the night at Bread & Circus and featured on the bill is Purrr, an intense rave-rock trio that is mesmerizing live.

Tickets/wristbands are a steal for all the talent one will get a chance to see. The five-day pass is $50 and one day is $25. They are available online at, as well as at various locations, such as Rotate This (801 Queen St. W.) and Criminal Records (493 Queen St. W.). The full schedule is also on the web site.

NXNE is now in its 16th year and has expanded from the music festival and conference (June 17 to 20th) with panels, keynote speeches and interviews to include more than 40 music-centric film screenings (June 16th to 20th), an interactive media conference (14 to 16th), and charity soccer game (20th) between the Rockers and The World.

The music festival also includes stages at Pearson International Airport and Union Station, and free open-air concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Tags: Arts · General