NXNE at various venues from Thursday to Sunday (June 19 to 22). NXNE Music, NXNE Comedy, NXNE Art run to June 22, NXNE Interactive to June 21. NXNE Film June 22. For ticket and wristband info, see nxne.com/tickets.
1. Sleigh Bells
at Yonge-Dundas Square, Thursday (June 19), 9:10 pm. Free. nxne.com.
You may have caught Sleigh Bells back in November when they passed through the Phoenix in support of their most recent album, Bitter Rivals, but chances are their Yonge-Dundas Square show on Thursday (June 19) will be considerably more epic.
The Brooklyn noise-pop duo of Alexis Krauss and Derek Edward Miller are known for going crazy live. Like Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy, Krauss lets her childhood musical theatre background seep into her onstage style, unafraid to get loud and unhinged. (Things once got so nuts at a show in New Jersey that a fan jumped onstage and bit Krauss's thigh.) Miller, meanwhile, spent his youth in hardcore band Poison the Well.
Their third album offers up the best balance yet of the band's yin and yang: it's heavy and sweet, pretty and piercing (Krauss can sing really high), dissonant and melodic. Add in the open-air venue and the dusk set time (9:10 pm) and things are sure to be memorable.
2. Viet Cong
at Smiling Buddha (961 College), Thursday (June 19), midnight. NXNE wristband or $15; and the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Friday (June 20), 10 pm. NXNE wristband or $15. nxne.com.
Catching members of Viet Cong in Chad VanGaalen's excellent backing band the other week at Lee's Palace was a titillating tease of what's to come when the Calgary art rock four-piece hit the Smiling Buddha on Thursday and the Horseshoe on Friday.
Made up of former Women members vocalist/bassist Matt Flegel and drummer Michael Wallace, plus VanGaalen backer Scott Munro and guitarist Daniel Christiansen, Viet Cong mix harmony-heavy garage-pop sounds with bits of noise and drone and mathy post-punk rhythms. It's loose and experimental and full of life, defiant in the face of the loss they suffered after Women guitarist Chris Reimer's death in 2012.
The shows come ahead of the July 8 vinyl and digital re-issue of their Cassette EP (Mexican Summer), which had only been available on tour before now.
at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Friday (June 20), 8 pm. NXNE wristband or $15; and Edward Day Gallery (952 Queen West), Sunday (June 22), 3 pm. NXNE wristband or pwyc. nxne.com.
After a string of EPs and a few years spent rallying the local indie scene to stop worrying about their eardrums, hometown loud rockers Greys have just released their highly anticipated debut album, If Anything (Buzz), before their first of three NXNE shows.
Over beers and lemon-flavoured water on a sunny Harbord Street patio, lead singer and guitarist Shehzaad Jiwani and drummer Braeden Craig list the must-haves they wanted on the record.
"There had to be at least one or two bangers," says Craig (see Guy Picciotto and Adderall), "and also ups and downs," adds Jiwani (i.e., the spacey album closer, Lull).
Despite the variety, the tempo never drastically changes: the album is rowdy and aggressive, the kind of music the teenaged version of Greys probably would have moshed to.
But if If Anything is a coming-of-age album, the guys are now ready to grow up.
"There needed to be a certain level of energy maintained throughout the whole record, but now that we've done that, I don't think we could write another 10 really fast punk songs," says Jiwani. "I don't think that's ever going to happen again."
Adds Craig, "We had to play that stuff out of our system. I'm excited to tour it and play all those songs, but it's nice to create another space for yourself to move into."
Their live show will also premiere a couple of tunes never played outside of the confines of Jiwani's dad's North York basement, where the band practises.
And if you're at all concerned that Jiwani might blow out his voice during their NXNE stint, don't be. He hasn't yet. ("Knock on wood.") His secret weapon? Warming up with Tears for Fears' Head Over Heels before every show.
"It's been three straight years and I haven't gotten sick of it. It's one of my top five favourite songs."
4. Odonis Odonis
at Yonge-Dundas Square, Thursday (June 19), 5:30 pm. Free; and the Garrison (1197 Dundas West), Thursday (June 19), 1 am. NXNE wristband or $15. nxne.com.
Odonis Odonis released their critically acclaimed second album, Hard Boiled Soft Boiled, in April, solidifying their reputation as the city's best (and possibly only) industrial-shoegaze-surf-punk band. The first half is tougher and rougher than their 2011 debut, Hollandaze, but on the last half they delve into their hazy dream pop side, expanding their range without sacrificing their unique approach.
Originally the home recording project of frontman Dean Tzenos, Odonis Odonis have evolved into a formidable live band. Mixing glossy synthetic tones with grainy lo-fi noise, they've got a deceptively timeless quality to their sound, which is sometimes like a misremembered reinterpretation of underground 80s post-punk.
6 more loud bands
The Leeds post-punks embrace life's dark shadows without ever becoming overly glum, thanks to shoegaze hooks, rock-and-roll energy and clean but angsty vocal delivery.
Friday (June 20) at Yonge-Dundas Square and Edward Day Gallery; Saturday (June 21) at Lee's Palace.
The re-formed experimental rockers play the most intense music on earth: cranky, sprawling, deafening and majestic.
Friday (June 20) at Yonge-Dundas Square.
These distortion-loving Torontonians churn out primitive, lo-fi tunes with repeating lines that'll have you singing along on the first try.
Thursday (June 19) at Adelaide Hall and Saturday (June 21) at the Great Hall.
The T.O. jangle-grunge band's fuzz-filled Inside The Velvet Castle EP comes out on Buzz Records on July 15.
Saturday (June 21) at the Great Hall.
PS I Love You
The affectionately noisy Kingston duo and perennial festival faves are gearing up for a new album, For Those Who Stay, out in July on Paper Bag.
Thursday (June 19) at Virgin Mobile Mod Club and Saturday (June 21) on the Bruise Cruise.
Charging out of Syracuse come this hardcore four-piece centred around Meredith Graves's bracingly confessional lyrics, unholy screams and riveting stage presence.
Friday (June 20) at the Horseshoe and Saturday (June 21) at the Great Hall.