NXNE 2017: Day 2

By Isaac Fox, Featured Photo via Harry Myles

North by North-East (NXNE)’s 2017 line-up offered a multi-genre mix spanning hip-hop, rock, R&B, and pop. I arrived around 5:30 on Saturday, and caught the very tail end of John River’s performance, where he was delivering a fierce acapella. He hasn’t been very active in Toronto since he released his last mixtape, The Storm in 2015, but his live show remains undeniably confident no matter what, and I was glad to get the chance to see him onstage.

After this, there was a number of performances by artists who I wasn’t familiar with prior to attending, but who easily captured my interest. Son Little, MUNA, and Bleachers all had high- energy, engaging performances, and the festival’s numbers swelled throughout, as the night continued on. My personal favourite moment came during the Son Little performance when his Scrantonite lead guitarist broke into a brief rendition of The Office’s theme song. It’s also worth noting that at one point when I sat down to take a five-minute nap (after several hours of standing), within about two minutes, NXNE security woke me up to check that I wasn’t smashed. I was entirely sober, but it was still a good touch. But anyways.

Tinie Tempah was the first of the night’s two headlining acts, and he brought a huge amount of energy to the stage. He played a mix of his older hits and some new quasi-grime songs that mark a departure from his earlier, pop-oriented work. While he’s a near-household name back in the UK, the Toronto crowd didn’t know much of his music. I’m in no position to judge here; prior to yesterday, I’d only heard his 2013 single “Trampoline”, which featured the ever-ubiquitous 2 Chainz. Despite this slight handicap, he had no trouble winning the crowd over to his mixture of EDM, pop and hip-hop. By the end of his set, he had them all in the palm of his hand.

Kaytranada was the main event of the night, and he didn’t disappoint. After starting his set with a mix of mid-tempo tracks, he moved onto cuts like “Girl” (with The Internet), as well as several songs off his XL Recordings debut 99.9%. While the mood was initially mellow, by the end of the night, a huge mosh pit had formed at the front, while Kay dabbed aggressively on-stage. I rate this performance one pair of broken glasses out of one, full marks.

While all the artists put on excellent performances, the bottom line is that Kaytranada alone would be worth the price of festival tickets. All in all, NXNE’s lineup was eclectic and diverse, but they all delivered.



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