NXNE 2016

North By North East has always gone by in a bit of a blur, usually a week full of trips all over Toronto.  For many it felt like a challenge to see and experience as much as possible.  Certain aspects of the festival have been controversial in recent years.  Proximity clauses, artists being met with protests and petitions, and then a mysterious change in the team that put the event together left us with a NXNE that was altogether different from previous years.  That doesn't mean that there wasn't a serious list of performers to get excited about, and some tough decisions on what to do. 

The primary focus seemed to be on a two day event set up on a site near Cherry Beach.  There were also countless club shows, though substantially less than in previous years, events at Yonge and Dundas, and conferences were part of the event as well.  It seems like each element of the NXNE experience has changed recently, or was completely brand new.  The community in Toronto has been vocal in the past that everyone didn't always love what NXNE did here in the city anyway, so why would 2016 be any different? 

It was Ghostface who took to the stage for the first truly memorable moment of our NXNE.  That was one name that stood out when the lineup was announced and the show itself didn't disappoint.  He was joined by Sheek Louch of the Lox, and together they ran down a lengthy set of solo classics, greatest hits from the Lox and the Wu-Tang Clan, with an energetic audience singing the lyrics right back at them.  Highlights of the night were Ghostface and Sheek bringing a fan from the audience who performed Old Dirty Bastard's verse to near perfection.  The lineup put Daniel Caesar in the between the Wu-Tang legend and Top Dawg Entertainment's Schoolboy Q.  That transition made for a truly unique experience and the spirit of the Manifesto Festival to NXNE.

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Bestival Toronto 2016

The beauty of Bestival is that it's up to you just how far you go down that rabbit hole of peace, love and music.  The mantra 'Increase The Peace' felt very present throughout the event, and the new location at Woodbine Park made the adventure seem completely brand new again.  Bestival has an incredible reputation as one of the top festivals in the world.  Bestival Toronto is emerging as one of the cities brightest, weirdest events and growing into an international force of it's own.

Let it be said that most people in attendance do not adhere to the suggestion of fancy dress (costume), but the many who do make for an unpredictable, colourful experience.  The site itself is decorated beautifully, an aspect of the foundations of Bestival that isn't found at most festivals.  It's quite common to find yourself in the midst of a blessing of unicorns, or surrounded by Charlie Kelly/Green Man lookalikes (ok you're right they were wearing yellow, adorned with smiley faces).

The main stage was set at the bottom of a hill, creating a natural theatre.  Watching the sun go down on the infamous 'I <3 BESTIVAL' sign, I felt pretty lucky to be back in this odd, wonderful world that exists only temporarily outside our imaginations and memories.  The Bollywood stage was set off on it's own in an area that felt somehow comfortable and energetic at the same time, and welcomed hometown hero Art Department for the opening night headline spot.  The Big Top provided both shade on those sunny days, and a new world to step into. 

There's so much going on at Bestival, but during the ultra long rendition of 'Let It Happen' Tame Impala got lost in the music and took everyone else along with them.  The road to Bestival is different for everyone, but in the end it really comes down to the fact that we were all there because the music is what matters most.  With artists like Porter Robinson, Art Department and Tame Impala all headlining you certainly do have world class artists bringing people together for exactly that reason.

In all honesty, the second day of Bestival felt like a bonus.  Being able to return to Woodbine Park, to that temporary, magical place was a privilige.  Grimes stole the show, despite being under the weather.  The Cure put on an awe-inspiring show, and as Lee Foss passed the decks on to Dubfire we realized something important: Bestival Toronto is growing, evolving, and it's own unique identity is a very welcome one in the Toronto musical landscape.

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Field Trip 2016


Field Trip 2016 was a no brainer for us. We had been anticipating this one since the lineup dropped. We love The National, and we love Robyn, and everyone else we knew on the list, and we gradually fell in love with the artists we didn't know. We even got to work with the awesome Arts & Crafts folks a bit and design some promotional baseball cards of the stellar lineup. It was truly a dream to work on and we are so thankful to Arts & Crafts for the opportunity.


This past Saturday,  June 4, 2016, after a long journey to Toronto for the festival, we made it in time to catch Boy & Bear and Bully, who were both great. They were loud and awesome and for bands we weren't previously super familiar with, we are definitely on the bandwagon now.

Next up was Santigold, who we will always love forever and ever. She only makes wonderful music, and she is a gifted live performer who puts on a show and a half every time she hits the stage. We've seen her live almost half a dozen times and we will just keep going and going any and everytime she has a stop nearby.

Holy Fuck were exceptionally loud and super awesome, as usual - but their new tracks are all seriously amazing, and definitely show an evolved and super talented band at work. They even brought out one of our favorite vocalists in all the land, the fantastic Carmen from DIANA. It's been years since we've had a chance to see Holy Fuck again, and they always exceed expectations.

Local heroes and crowd favorites July Talk were up next and it was madness. They are so fucking good live it's kind of hard to believe at times. They have crafted such an amazing sound that cannot be compared to anyone ever, and they have a live show to match. It seemed like this was a pretty monumental show for July Talk, and it definitely was for the fans as well.

Saturday was capped off by none other than The National, who we've seen many times, and they never disappoint. But this was a big show for The National. It was the most energetic and passionate show we've seen from one of our favorite bands, and that is two things they are definitely known for. The set and the light show were perfect, and the band is so full of gifted musicians, it can be sensory overload at times. But they were great, it was awesome, we loved it.


Sunday, things were very different.

We wanted to get there early for Charlotte Day Wilson, and while we were later than we had hoped, what we heard of her set made us fans for life. Her voice is beautiful, her songs are beautiful, and she pretty much seems like she's the coolest in general. So, thank you Charlotte Day Wilson - you were super great.

Immediately following her set, we were asked to evacuate the park because the storm we all knew was coming was about to arrive - and before we made it to the exit, everyone was drenched. We were among those prepared with ponchos, but it was a measly defense against a storm of this magnitude and it was clear that this festival was postponed, only temporarily, we hoped.

What came next was four hours of festival-goers losing their tempers online as if the hardworking folks at Field Trip control the weather, while the mild mannered and gracious social media wizard of theirs patiently attended to everyones issues and gripes.

And then, they pulled off something that must have been a logistical nightmare. The reopened the gates once the storm had passed with a condensed schedule so only a few shows had to be cancelled. Some people were understandably frustrated at missing their favorite artist or having their favorite bands set cut short but what the folks at Field Trip pulled off despite the everything was nothing short of amazing.

We were so happy that we were able to come back, and see Charles Bradley and his band put on the show of a lifetime and bring out the sunshine. Their flawless execution and heavy dose of soul had an absolutely ecstatic crowd having the time of their lives, certainly forgetting about any inconvenience they may have experienced earlier.

After that we still got to see Ra Ra Riot, Basia Bulat, and of Montreal - and they were ALL fantastic. But of course, nothing could prepare us for the powerhouse of a headliner that is Robyn. She is a monster talent who must collapse the second she leaves the stage - as few performers put so much into a show. Her amazing band played an almost seamless set of loud, bass filled house vibes while Robyn danced around the whole stage and then some with perfect rhythm and style and still managed to sing a whole bunch of incredible tracks for an adoring crowd. Again, such a great choice for a headliner. We had a blast.


All in all, Field Trip was amazing again this year. It's a well organized festival with great music, great food and an awesome crowd. It's family friendly which we think is the best - we may be getting old, but enjoying a show with a bunch of great young families is much more fun than with a bunch of drunk teenagers.

And as far as the weather was concerned, they kept everyone safe and did a massive amount of work to make as many of us happy as they could and still put on a great event. That could not have been an easy feat.

Arts & Crafts and Livenation and everyone else who worked on Field Trip, we commend you. You did a wonderful job and no matter what any complainer may tell you, this years festival was a great success.

We can't wait to be back next year.


Electric Island Season Opener 5/23

This weekend Electric Island made its bold return for 2016.  The Victoria day season opener saw a great crowd of music lovers gather on a beautiful day at Hanlan's point.  Toronto's waterfront and the islands themselves were buzzing with energy, but for those who knew to look there was a sanctuary like no other. Whether it's your first Electric Island, or you've been to each and every one you know to expect something different.

With this impeccably curated lineup you find yourself in the midst of a very unique crowd.  One that is unafraid to let the music take over.  Local talents like Jonathan Rosa and Nature of Music return to Electric Island to get things started off right.  The majority of the crowd arrives around 5 pm, partly thanks to the holiday ferry traffic.  After heading to Ward's Beach early on in the day we arrived in this welcoming space, filled with plants hanging from mirrors, and a dj booth like none we'd ever seen before. 

Things really took off midway through Job Jobse's set and onwards into DJ Tennis' first appearance at Electric Island since 2014.  As the crowd grew and the sun began to go down the real reason Toronto showed up was clear.  They came to jam.  To the Electric Island crew, there is nowhere else to be on these choice weekends that include events you really can't find anywhere else around here.  These lineups are on par with top events all over the world.

The love of the music is what draws most of us to Electric Island.  Including the performers, never more evident than when it becomes clear that DJ Tennis is going into overtime for a delayed Jamie Jones.  Legendary headliner Sven Vath returned for the first time since the season opener 2 years ago and left everyone wanting more, patiently awaiting the July 1st edition of Electric Island.



TOKiMONSTA's Fovere Tour at The Mod Club 11/27

TOKiMONSTA brought the Fovere Tour to the Mod Club in Toronto.  She's preparing to release her new mini-album, and this tour with Anderson Paak and Two Fresh is inviting more and more people into her world with each city they perform in.  The duo known as Two Fresh have been building a serious buzz, and their performance proves that the heat is well deserved.  These two artists have a masterful sense of what works in their dj sets, and they inspired that Toronto audience to shrug off a long week and get loose at one of our favourite venues in the city.

TOKiMONSTA followed Two Fresh, and performed a set that felt like a transition between chapters.  She played tunes we've loved for some time and heard the last time she performed in the city at GO HARD Toronto, and a great many we've never heard before.  The selections kept us guessing, as to which previously unheard tracks may emerge as part of the new record 'Fovere'.  From dance music to hip hop, and back again, TOKiMONSTA proves she's as unpredictable as she is talented.

Midway through her set Anderson Paak joined TOKiMONSTA onstage.  Their new single 'Put It Down' with KRNE from 'Fovere' led the way, 'Own Life' that Anderson Paak released earlier this year with Vindata, and 'Drugs' from Paak's solo debut 'Venice' drew increasingly more and more energy from the crowd.  The energetic performer has been releasing a steady stream of powerful new music, and his live show does not disappoint.  It somehow makes you love the music evermore than you would have without seeing it live.

This was never more true than when the duo ended their joint set with a performance of the unbelievable single 'Realla'.  This was our track of the year for 2014, and one that we'd waited some time to experience live.  It's safe to say we had high hopes for the collaborative show from Anderson Paak and TOKiMONSTA, and finally witnessing it; they're like nothing we've ever known...