The hands-down winner of summer's biggest-bang-for-your-buck prize is the 11th annual North By Northeast extravaganza, featuring 400-plus artists at 30 different venues in the downtown core. NOW's showcase (June 9 at the Reverb ), which features arty punk spitfires Sylvie (formed in the ashes of rad Regina crew Despistado), BC hiphop threat Josh Martinez , who just inked a deal with V2 Records, delightful Arts & Crafts newbies the Most Serene Republic , the loopy live electronics of Brian Borcherdt 's manic Holy Fuck and killer orch-rock hooligans the Old Soul . The fest kicks off June 9 and runs through June 11. Wristbands are a mere $24 and give you access to all festival showcases, or you can try your luck and pay at the door of individual venues. www.nxne.com.
Go Team! coming
One of the hottest tickets at this year's South By Southwest fest in Austin was Brighton's brilliant Go! Team , whose buzzed-about midnight showcase was packed two full hours before the band hit the stage. The hype was well deserved. The UK six-piece are a high-energy, technicolour dream, boasting two chick drummers, a handful of goofy, gangly guitar slingers and powerhouse frontwoman Ninja , who's a cross between a soul-singing Lil' Kim and the leader of a cheerleading squad. Their hugely anticipated Toronto debut happens July 13 at Lee's Palace . Don't miss it. 529 Bloor West. 416-532-1598, 416-870-8000.
By the time 2002's One Beat came out, it was clear that fab femme bashers Sleater-Kinney had gotten their three-pronged grrrl rock assault down to a science, and their live shows were similarly almost too polished. So it's shocking to hear them tear into sludgy psych rock with such gusto on album number seven, The Woods, which stands out as a career best. Even better, S-K've jacked themselves up live, and if the jaw-dropping appearance we caught last March in Austin is any indication, the ladies' June 18 show at the Phoenix with Dead Meadow will be electrifying. 410 Sherbourne. $20. 416-870-8000.
Thanks to a helping hand from unlikely fan Jack White, Loretta Lynn - playing Massey Hall July 22- is currently enjoying a career revival. Her fabulous White-produced Van Lear Rose album not only shows that country music's celebrated coal miner's daughter still has her pipes, but also serves as a reminder that Lynn is one of the finest storytelling songwriters ever to hit Music City. 178 Victoria. $32.50-$59.50. 416-872-4255.
If you like your four-day parties with a little less fun fur and a little more gay beefcake, Prism Toronto should satisfy your circuit party hunger. The main event Sunday features Peter Rauhofer at the Guvernment , Boy George plays Saturday at the Kool Haus , and there's tons more. June 23 to 26 at various venues. www.prismtoronto.com.
Sonny day ahead
Even if you own every last studio recording Sonny Rollins ever made, you'd still be missing a huge piece of what makes the saxophone colossus so brilliant if you haven't seen him perform. Listen as one of jazz music's all-time great improvisers - appearing as part of the Downtown Jazz Festival at Massey Hall June 24 - turn's standards inside out right before your eyes. 178 Victoria. $49.50-$89.50. 416-872-4255.
What, you have no bottle rockets or cherry bombs for American Independence Day celebrations? Just head over to Arrow Hall on the morning of July 4 for the Sounds Of The Underground all-ages show, where the explosive attack of Clutch , Lamb of God , From Autumn to Ashes , Poison the Well , Opeth , Norma Jean and other over-amped blasters will provide all the devastating decibels your little ears can stand. You've been warned. 6900 Airport Road. $35. 416-870-8000, www.hob.ca.
Havana-based consortium of old-school musicians Buena Vista Social Club is essentially a boys' club, with one notable exception: sizzling septuagenarian Omara Portuondo . Over her 50-year career as an entertainer, the smoky-voiced singer has proven her adeptness at everything from rootsy guarachas to gently swinging boleros, but she really excels at slow-burning ballads like the musical love letters on her Flor De Amor disc. She floats into town July 2, playing Roy Thomson Hall . 60 Simcoe. $39.50-$79.50. 416-872-4255.
Underground NYC dance music legend Danny Krivit makes a rare Toronto appearance June 17 at Roxy Blu (12 Brant). Expect custom re-edits of classic anthems, unreleased gems and a history lesson on the roots of club culture. www.roxyblu.com.
This is your last chance to experience the bizarre phenomenon that is the happy hardcore party Hullabaloo . Break out the phat pants, the fun fur, the candy jewellery and your rave book. July 9 at the Opera House (735 Queen West). $40 advance. www.hulla. info.