Shit You Should See At This Year's NXNE

It struck us last week as we were trying to narrow down our choices for this year's little red Polaris Prize ballot: the past twelve months have been an incredible fucking year for Canadian music. And though it's the Arcade Fire stunner at the Grammys that has stolen all the headlines, it's the depth — the amazing, lesser-known bands who pack clubs and bars across the county every single night — that has taken the music scene in Canada to heights that we can't help but suspect it has never seen before.

And as luck would have it, hundreds of those bands are converging on Toronto beginning tonight, along with a few of the better acts from around the world. It's North By Northeast time again: four days of musical awesomeness, drunkenness and exhaustion. Like we did for Canadian Music Week earlier this year, we'll be hitting the clubs till we drop, posting our photos and reviews as we go. You'll find it all here. And we'll be tweeting it up, too. You can follow us @LittleRedU.

In case you're not sure what to go see, we've posting some of the stuff we're most excited about below. You can check out the full schedule here. And you can buy a wristband ($50 for the whole festival; $25 for one day) here. Totally. Freaking. Worth it.

The Meligrove Band (10pm) & Library Voices (midnight) at The Rivoli 
Red Mass (11pm) at The Horseshoe Tavern 

Truth be told, we usually skip the quieter opening night of the festival to rest up and prepare ourselves for the onslaught that is to come. But this year, it looks like we'll have to drag ourselves up off our couches and into the night. The Wednesday show we're most excited about is at the Rivoli, where two of our favourite Canadian groups are playing an hour apart. The Meligrove Band's latest record made it onto our little red Polaris ballot this year and we're dying to see the high-energy poptastic tunes live. Meanwhile, we already know that Regina's Library Voices are crazy energetic indie folkpoprock in person. They take the stage at midnight.

And while that's going on, a lot of the coolest kids we know will be down on Queen Street catching the garage rock free-for-all of Red Mass at the Horseshoe.

MP3:  "Bones Attack!!" by The Meligrove Band
MP3: "Ghosts At My Back" by The Meligrove Band
MP3: "Party Like It's 2012" by Library Voices
MP3: "Terrorizer" by Red Mass
VIDEO: "Male Models" by Red Mass

Tomboyfriend (midnight) at The El Mocambo
Bruce Peninsula (1am) at The Rivoli
Allie Hughes (11pm) & Fucked Up (1am) at Wrongbar

Thursday night is when NXNE really gets into gear and with a full slate of performers, we're going to be at loose ends, racing from one venue to the next all evening. There are a few acts that we're going to be sure not to miss, though. We finally listened to Tomboyfriend recently after hearing great things about them for ages. They immediately leaped onto our Polaris ballot. Their glammy New-York-City-in-the-'70s sound is the sort of art rockishness you might expect from a group associated with the Torontopia/Trampoline Hall crowd and their live shows are supposed to be full-blown theatrical affairs. There's no way in hell we're missing it. And if we can race down Spadina in time to catch Bruce Peninsula at the 'Shoe 15 minutes later, we'll be there too.

Meanwhile, our cloned selves will be in Parkdale at Wrongbar, catching what promises to easily be one of the festival's best line-ups thanks to Toronto's most famous 21st century punks, Fucked Up, and the always lovely, bizarre and theatrical Allie Hughes.

MP3: "Goldfinch Gluespoo" by Tomboyfriend
MP3: "Skank" by Tomboyfriend
MP3: "Steamroller" by Bruce Peninsula
MP3: "The Other Shoe" by Fucked Up
MP3: "Not The Stars" by Allie Hughes (ft. Darcy Rego from The Meligrove Band)
READ: Our interview with Allie Hughes
READ: Our review of Allie Hughes at Canadian Music Week

Library Voices (7pm), The Most Serene Republic (8pm) & Art Brut (9pm) at The Mod Club Theatre
Ruby Coast (11pm), Paper Lions (midnight), Sheezer (2am) & Rouge (3am) at Sneaky Dee's

We've got a spreadsheet on Google Docs where we've all filled in our picks for each night. And every single one of us has plugged the same thing into Friday's column: Sheezer, Sneaky Dee's, 2am. Seeing the all-girl Weezer cover band, featuring members of The Hidden Cameras and The Bicycles among others, is some of the most fun you can have in this city. And it doesn't hurt that they'll be surrounded by some of our other favourites: Ruby Coast (whose shout-along indie rock threatens to buckle the floor upstairs at Sneaks every time they play it), Paper Lions (and their catchy East Coast catchiness) and Rouge (who blew us away when we stumbled across them at CMW).

And that's not even the only huge show on Friday. Some of us will be starting things off early at the Mod Club, where Library Voices, The Most Serene Republic and the UK's beloved punkish post-modern self-refencers Art Burt are playing their sets starting at 7pm.

MP3: "Party Like It's 2012" by Library Voices
MP3: "Heavens To Purgatory" by The Most Serene Republic
MP3: "Good Weekend" by Art Brut
MP3: "Neighbourhood" by Ruby Coast
VIDEO: "El Scorcho" by Sheezer
MP3: "Destruction" by Rouge
READ: Our review of Rouge at Canadian Music Week

Whale Tooth (10pm), Hands & Teeth (11pm) & The Balconies (1am) at Sneaky Dee's
Hooded Fang (10pm), Jenn Grant (11pm) & Dinosaur Bones (midnight) at the Horseshoe
The Elwins (8pm) at Bread & Circus

Seriously. iPhones are cool and everything, hoverboards would be a riot, but we're not going to be truly impressed with technology until we get some Multiplicity type shit going on. That would solve our Saturday night dilemma. At Sneaky Dee's, our friends over at Audioblood Media are teaming up with White Girl Records to put on a showcase with one of our very very very favourite live Toronto bands (The Balconies), one our very very very favourite discoveries from this year's Canadian Music Week (Hands & Teeth) and one of the bands we haven't seen yet but have been very very very much dying too see for a very very very long time (Whale Tooth).

And yet, at the same time at the Horsehoe, one of our Polaris picks will taking the stage at 10pm (Hooded Fang), followed by one our favourite Canadian singer-songwriters (Jenn Grant) and then the tight-jeaned '70s rock of Dinosaur Bones at midnight.

Thank god The Elwins bring their indie pop to Kensington Market earlier in the evening There's at least one band we want to see who know we won't have to miss.

MP3: "Dear, Oh My" by The Elwins
MP3: "Hibernation Song" by Whale Tooth
MP3: "Shine On" by Hands And Teeth
READ: Our interview with Hands And Teeth
MP3: "Kill Count" by The Balconies
READ: Our review of The Balconies at Canadian Music Week
MP3: "Laughing" by Hooded Fang 
MP3: "Promise Land" by Hooded Fang
READ: Our review of Hooded Fang at Canadian Music Week
MP3: "Oh My Heart" by Jenn Grant
MP3: "N.Y.E." by Dinosaur Bones

Once the festival starts, you'll be able to find all of our coverage right here. And again, you can check out the full schedule here and buy a wristband here.

Photo: Sheezer (by Adam Bunch)


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