LIVE REVIEW: NXNE 2017



Once a week-long club-hopping festival, North By Northeast returned this year - in the same fashion as last, as an all-encompassing weekend-long event. The Port Lands festival took over the large lot on Commissioners Street in T.O. for three days featuring headliners Post Malone, Kaytranada and Passion Pit. 

Though the event's attendance - or lack there of, drew some major criticism, festival-goers seemed to have a great time. On top of a diverse lineup, there were midway games, rides, booths, a comedy tent and food trucks to be enjoyed between sets. 

Sleigh Bells lived up to their "noise pop" classification with a loud, pop-infused performance. The duo's newer songs - such as "Hyper Dark" and "Rule Number One" were quite noisy while their older tracks - "Tell 'Em" and "Infinity Guitars" were more pop. Lead singer Alexis Krauss dominated the stage with energy that matched her powerful vocals.

Amir Obe, a hip-hop artist from Detroit, took to the stage with just a mic and a backup drummer for a raw, rap set on the festival's Canal Stage.

Smoke filled the air in front of the Skyline stage while chants of "Posty" repeated from the crowd until Post Malone walked on stage with beer in hand. The moment he set foot on stage, fans were hyped. The crowd doubled in size for Post Malone's headlining set and was undeniably the most well-received act of the entire weekend. The lyrics from Malone's better known tracks "Congratulations" and "Too Young" echoed back from the crowd, however, when the beat dropped for "White Iverson," the crowd truly let loose. Malone pulled through with a laid-back, chill demeanour to a crowd of people who were seemingly at the peak of their Port Lands experience. 

K.I.D. - Mississauga's own indie rock duo, rocked out with a growing crowd on Saturday afternoon. They delivered a garage band-feeling sound on the Skyline Stage, performing songs from their newest EP Poster Child and a few tracks from their 2015 self-titled debut. 

John River, another Mississauga musician, brought a fusion of rap and poetry to the stage. At just 21 years old, River serves realness and poetic genius oozing with hometown pride in each of his tracks.  

Aaron Livingston, more commonly known as Son Little, delivered a rock 'n soul performance with an incredibly talented and lively backing band. The R&B singer had the crowd moving with a number of bluesy tracks including his newly released "Blue Magic."

Coming off their debut album release About U,  MUNA had the crowd dancing along to their delicious synth-pop sounds. Lead vocalist Katie Gavin engaged with the crowd throughout, claiming she "love(s) playing festivals (because) there's always something magical in the air." The queer-girl rock band brought ultimate girl power the Canal Stage.

Tinie Tempah, the well-known British hip-hop artist, amped up the energy at the Port Lands festival playing throwback tracks and hits of today. The crowd seemed to be in constant motion whether they recognized the songs or not, but were most excited for Tempah's hits "Written in the Stars," "Girls Like," and "Miami 2 Ibiza." Tempah recently made a comeback with his latest album release Youth, a whole four years following his preceding album. It seems as though Tempah is back, with no signs of slowing down.

It was a pleasure having Bleachers perform in Toronto Saturday night and the feelings were evidently mutual as lead singer Jack Antonoff stated that it was "a f*cking pleasure to be in Canada - for obvious reasons." This indie pop act is nothing short of fun for everyone - playing 80s/90s inspired pop rock and delivering superior engagement with the audience. Though indie music has seen a rise in popularity over the years, this group is so much more than just another indie band - with two drummers and a saxophonist paired with the overall infectiously happy stage presence, Bleachers bring a unique take to indie rock. From their upbeat cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way" to their newest single "Don't Take My Money," Bleachers' Port Lands set was among the best of the entire festival.

Kaytranada had big shoes to fill, subbing in as the replacement act for the original headliner Tyler The Creator. Judging by the crowd Saturday night, Kaytra, the Montreal DJ/Producer, had no problem stepping up and closing out day two of the festival with a bang. Kaytra is no stranger to the spotlight, having recently won a Juno and Polaris award his 2016 album 99.9%. Giant beach balls and glow sticks flew through the air to the sounds of Kaytra's original tracks along with remixes of classic and modern hits that flowed seamlessly throughout his set. 

The final headlining act of the weekend, Passion Pit, performed Sunday evening with the setting sun on the Toronto skyline as their backdrop. The indietronica outfit treated festival-goers to older hits including "Little Secrets" and "Take a Walk" as well as a few gems from their 2017 release Tremendous Sea of Love. The band returned to stage for an encore performance of "Sleepyhead" - another classic Passion Pit track.

There's no question that NXNE always brings together a bill of big names and this year was no exception.

Don't miss out in 2018!














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