The four days and nights of massive free concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square turn the centre of the city into a giant, intense party featuring some of the biggest names at NXNE. The Flaming Lips are a great headlining act, but every day has a strong lineup.
Thursday, June 14
The kickoff night is again focused on punk rock, with legendary southern California punk pioneers Bad Religion topping the bill. Skate punk seems to be the theme of this showcase, since Good Riddance, No Use for a Name, Slave on Dope and Trouble Andrew round out the slate.
Friday, June 15
The vibe veers toward pop on Friday, when Canadian alt-pop survivor Matthew Good headlines. Montreal's Plants and Animals do their best to prove that fuzzed-out guitars make folk rock better, and up-and-coming electronic pop band Eight and a Half (featuring members of the Stills and Broken Social Scene) get the evening going.
Saturday, June 16
The Flaming Lips aren't the only act injecting pop with a healthy dose of weirdness Saturday, and the action gets started early, at noon. All the bands are strong, but we especially recommend the psych-pop of Portugal. The Man, the ambient prog of Brasstronaut (see preview, page 48), misleadingly named weirdos from Athens, Georgia Of Montreal, the absurdly earnest indie pop of Oberhofer and California hardcore punks Ceremony.
Sunday, June 17
The square goes hip-hop on Sunday, headlined by Wu-Tang Clan alumni Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. Southern rap gets some representation with Killer Mike (whose new album, R.A.P. Music, is getting rave reviews), and there's big buzz behind NYC's Action Bronson. It's worth getting there early to catch up-and-coming Toronto rappers Tre Mission and Tasha the Amazon.