NXNE 2014 favourites

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Since NXNE ended on Sunday, I've seen a lot of posts about what people liked / didn't like / thought could be better / the end of the short-lived radius clause. I was lucky to win some wristbands from My Apollo (thank you!) and wanted to post some of my own highlights from the last week.

NXNE ashley gibson

Donovan Woods
Corbin introduced me to Donovan Woods early in our relationship and I instantly adored Donovan's smooth voice and brilliant storytelling (and Corbin's good taste in music). I saw a tweet from Donovan during the festival saying that he was playing at the Dakota and I was stoked! The Dakota is one of my favourite small venues in the city and I was pleased to be able to see Donovan live finally.

I nabbed a seat right next to the stage and got to enjoy sweet tunes and Donovan's endearing and engaging stage banter including requests to ensure he drank enough water and a story about a song he wrote for a guy who had found out that his ex had gotten engaged through Facebook to try and win the gal back. He played a mix of old and new (mostly sad songs, to his own admission) and I really enjoyed the simplicity of his set: just him, his guitar and harmonica. He didn't play one of my favourites, The Coldest State, so I'll leave the video below because it's charming.

Autre Ne Veut

Autre Ne Veut was actually the artist I was most looking forward to seeing when I got my wristband. I've been a fan of Arthur Ashin's smooth vocals for about a year and have sadly missed his previous visits to Toronto. I had a much-needed giggle before the show after a terrible bicycle ride to the venue (more on that in another post) when the man himself tweeted back at me, making no promises for the show making it up to me for my terrible ride. Thankfully, he delivered! 
I really enjoyed his energy, onstage persona, killer backup singer and vocals. While I worry for the sake of his voice (there was a lotta yelling happening) I was enthralled by his set. Autre Ne Veut was followed by 'secret act' of the night Sleigh Bells and I left after a couple of songs because apparently 'noise pop' is more noise than anything else and I just wasn't into it (and apparently I wasn't alone)


I read an article about tUnE-yArDs and Merrill Garbus at the beginning of the festival and after getting a recommendation from a friend I decided to check out her set at Massey Hall. I'm so glad that I did because their set ended up being my very favourite thing I saw! Having Massey Hall as a venue is really awesome and provided a wonderful platform for Merrill and her band's energy. She recorded loops live, sang, clapped and drummed with another percussionist, guitarist and two back up singers/dancers alongside her. My new aspiration in life is to be a backup singer for Merrill. I'm not even joking. The whole crowd was standing by the second song, and she commented on everyone's polite Canadian nature when she was recording her loops for each track. It was an incredible performance that I'm so glad I got to witness and very cool to have discovered a stellar new-to-me artist. 

What were you faves from NXNE?

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