The NXNE 2017 Music and Arts Festival now in its second year experienced a fews ups and downs during its run (June 23-25). After all, it was supposed to be one of the high lights of the summer in Toronto. With headliners such as Post Malone, Kaytranada, MUNA and Passion Pit – the event should have been in the least, a showstopper.
In spite of the beautiful horizon displaying a picturesque city skyline (especially if you were brave enough to ride the Paratrooper or Ferris wheel) there was still very little to be done to salvage the poor turnout. One guess is perhaps the choice of location which deterred many from committing to the weekend. Set on Commissioners Street, its not the easiest route to take especially if you live far from the core of the city and rely on public transit. And although one could argue that it held a certain charm – perhaps not as packed with people but the expectation was that the artists would flourish and overall there would be cool things to do. Being a bit of a music enthusiast, I may have set the bar too high.
Another reason of course as to why the event had too many gaping holes in the crowd, could be due to the PRIDE festivities taking place all over the city. The collision of these events therefore produced a shy audience count.
In between the shows, my friend and I found ways to kill time by exploring some of the carnival – like entertainment, including free rides and getting a taste of some of the food from a variety of vendors.
My favourite was the watermelon salad from Global Street Foods while my friend honoured Canadian tradition with a classic poutine.
Awaiting the arrival of Post Malone, the crowd did seem to enjoy the some of the perhaps lesser known but just as equally talented artists including Amir Obé and Sleigh Bells.
Admittedly, I couldn’t wait for Post Malone, who first broke out with his hit “White Iverson” in 2015. The fans sharing a similar restlessness began chanting promptly at 9:30 pm “Postie”, who was also “post”poned by about 35 minutes. Inspite of the artist’s tardiness, he certainly owned the stage and brought his A game, without any shame. Not shying away from taking dips of his beer among other “illicit behaviours”, he performed all the fan favourites and his latest, “Congratulations”.
He pretty much owned the Skyline stage.
Saturday brought a slightly different vibe. With MUNA, Bleachers and Kaytranada, it was surely going to be an upgrade.
While It didnt exactly disappoint (from the performances aspect anyway), there were far fewer people than the night before. MUNA shined bright with their moody yet electric ” Crying on the Bathroom Floor” and Bleachers delivered a much needed energy boost with their eclectic poppy anthem “Don’t Take the Money”.
Kaytranada, as the representing headlining artist, did everything right even when scolding a couple of unruly audience members for their rowdiness. The crowd grooved along as the producer played the cool house infused jam “Together” and “You’re the One”. I can confidently say, that these artists will be climbing the mainstream charts faster than we realize.
Though performances didn’t necessarily lack energy, the PORTLANDS sector of the music festival could have used a bit of extra oomph and perhaps a couple of hundred more bodies to make the festivities a bit more ambiant. There was a comedy tent and a few other fillers but during the day the event was pretty vacant of any sign of life on the grounds Hopefully, NXNE picks up the pace next year and gives fans a bit more than what appears to have been, a lacklustre effort.
[Review and photos by Alessia Youkhanna]