NXNE 2015 Guide: More where you can expect the unexpected

The Drake Underground (1150 Queen West), Thursday (June 18), 9 pm. $15 or wristband. nxne.com.Back when he was still in.


The Drake Underground (1150 Queen West), Thursday (June 18), 9 pm. $15 or wristband. nxne.com.

Back when he was still in Das Racist, Heems (aka Himanshu Suri) was known as an unpredictable performer, and that doesnt seem to have changed.

But these days hes not hamming it up for laughs as much, and has instead earned a reputation as one of the more sensitive rappers in hip-hop for talking seriously about race, identity, anxiety and depression in the lyrics of his recently released debut solo album, Eat Pray Thug (Megaforce).

Its quite emotional music that Ive made here, so its a little different, Suri says from his NYC home. On this tour it might be very bare-bones. I dont even know if Ill have a DJ. I like the DIY feel of that, and it gives me an interesting opportunity to just talk to the crowd.

That kind of breaking-the-focus is something people arent used to, where one second Im rapping, then the music is off and Im talking about something totally unrelated, and then I get back into rapping again.

Over the last year hes done a lot of talking, giving lectures at colleges about race and politics, while also branching out into acting, art, fashion and even dabbling in a bit of choreo-graphy. As he runs down his schedule for the next week, you get the sense that he has an unquenchable thirst to try everything and is impatient and frustrated by the impossibility of achieving everything he wants.

Im a pretty ambitious person by nature. I dont know what Ill be doing in five years, but I know that right now I want to take in as much art and fashion and things that inspire me, because one day I might wake up and want to be a boring dude.

Despite his insane schedule, Suri cant seem to resist trying to cram more into each day. While most touring musicians would be happy to play NXNE and then crash at their hotel, Suri is planning field trips and more.

I know theres a big Indian community [in the GTA] I always see them on my Twitter. I might stay an extra day and see what the hell Brampton is about, because I keep hearing about it from Indian kids. I was even thinking of maybe shooting a video up there.

Lees Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (June 19), midnight. $20 or wristband. nxne.com.

Last seen in a neck brace on Instagram following a car accident, latter-day rock n roll entertainer and Dallas Buyers Club co-star Bradford Cox appears to be getting ready for a busy year on the road. Though no new music has been announced yet, his croony solo project, Atlas Sound, is playing a handful of festival dates, and his band, Deerhunter, are also hitting the road, with a stop at the Toronto Urban Roots Festival in September.

The last time Cox toured as Atlas Sound, he made headlines for playing an hour-long rendition of My Sharona in response to a fan request in Minneapolis. (A subsequent Toronto gig was much more civilized.) Fronting Deerhunter on Jimmy Fallons talk show in drag with a bloodied and bandaged hand and telling Buzzfeed that Morrisseys musical influence is like a pungent death shroud over the future and the past further demonstrated his knack for keeping things interesting.

But hes just as adept at generating face-melting psych rock and romantic waves of noise as he is headlines.

Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Thursday (June 18), midnight.$20 or wristband. nxne.com.

Bring earplugs or risk potentially irreparable hearing loss. Health have been making heavy noise since they exploded onto the scene in 2007 with their self-titled debut album. Since then, theyve put out a second record and done most of the official soundtrack for video game Max Payne 3, but its still been six (!) years since a proper full-length.

Luckily for fans, theyve just announced their third album, Death Magic, out August 7 on Loma Vista. The odds are pretty good that theyll be banging out new material for this Buzz Records showcase at the Shoe, and in furious fashion. The L.A. groups performances are known for being chaotic maelstroms, where the band conjures up the same ballistic fury that pulses through their dangerously loud records. Theyre the kind of band that can blow away festival stages. Giving them the chance to lay waste to one of Torontos most legendary music venues should have people trying to piece themselves back together by nights end.

Lees Palace (529 Bloor West), Saturday (June 20), 11 pm. $20 or wristband. nxne.com.

Last time Obliterations swung through town, singer Sam James Velde took his hardcore fury out on the Hard Luck Bars dropped ceiling tiles, piercing the panels repeatedly with his mic stand and in the process showering those of us near the stage with dust and dirt but hopefully not asbestos.

Their unhinged live show is exactly whats required from music that rages like a foaming-at-the-mouth pit bull and abrasively seethes with pent-up protests informed not by angsty adolescence but by the relentless march of time. All four members, based in L.A., are lifer musicians. Take guitarist Stephen McBean, who was here a year ago with his Pink Mountaintops and will return in July with his most awesome Black Mountain.

Thirteen-track Poison Everything came out last October on Southern Lord, and its a doozy dark, raw, turbulent punk made by longhairs who throw metal-tinged titanic guitar riffs into the fray. You will mosh.

Check out our interview with Rae Sremmurd here.

music@nowtoronto.com | @nowtoronto

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