Spiritualized (left) and tUnE-yArDs
NXNE is tough on the feet, with all that racing between shows and standing on your stems for hours. Venues typically don't include much in the way of seating, so it's welcome news that for the first time, Massey Hall (178 Victoria) - with its cushioned chairs, elegant balconies and stellar acoustics - is not only part of the festivities, but will be filled with NXNE wristband- and badge-holders for three consecutive nights. Any leftover seats will go on sale to the public, but we doubt there will be much room.
Why? The programming is nothing short of inspired. Take night one (Thursday, June 19), which sees Merrill Garbus's experimental-folk-Afropop project tUnE-yArDs paired with local sludge-pop four-piece Weaves, commandeered by Jasmyn Burke. It's sure to be a rhythmically intense night of fierce female voices soaring through those hallowed halls. Pennsylvania psych electronic musician Tobacco rounds out the bill.
And how about Spiritualized and the Barr Brothers on Friday (June 20)? The Montreal harp-enhanced blues-folk of the latter will be a fine complement to the English icons' sprawling space rock. The Barr Brothers do their fair share of improvised jams - bows on cymbals! Sticks on bicycle wheels! Guitar-versus-harp battles! - while the former Spacemen 3 musicians go in for noisy, crescendoing, 10-minute guitar drones.
Rhye and Kelela's show will be just the breather we need by Saturday (June 21). Both acts are based in Los Angeles and play soft, dark-edged R&B. Toronto born Mike Milosh of Rhye has a voice like Sade set against sensual but melancholy songwriting, while Kelela's Little Dragonesque vocals and melodies play against stark, progressive beats. All you have to do is take a load off and listen.
More info here.