When I opened my eyes on Wednesday morning, I knew right away that it was going to be a long day. I needed to cover a lot of ground and by the end of this night my abs were toned as if I was competing at Tough Mudder instead.

First, I had to pick up the media passes at the NXNE Hub, that was conveniently located at Queen & Spadina. All media had the same pass, the staff had a different pass and artists had wristbands. There were also supposedly 5-day wristbands for the public, but I haven’t seen those. It was easy to differentiate between all of them, and even though it was said there is a cap on number of media people per venue, I haven’t had a problem getting into any shows this time around. The staff were very friendly and laid back – what an improvement from CMW! Although, I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone could walk up there and ask for passes, since I was never I.D.’ed.

While waiting for my crew to show up, I decided to check out the first ever CIMA Road Gold Awards at The Hideout. The have already wrapped up the ceremony at the time, but the party was still going and it was cool to hang out with industry folk and exchange our expectations on NXNE. USS and Big Wreck also hung back to enjoy this beautiful patio weather.

Next, I ducked into Rilovi, where they were still setting up for the evening show. A necessary break from back and forth messaging/managing and a cold rum and coke were already a must. NXNE volunteers were running around, taking care of last minute things. The bands were setting up. Somewhat recharged I made my way to The Mod Club.

After my experiences with bigger shows at CMW this year, I was a little worried that The Mod Club would be already full by the time the first act went on stage. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case and I got in just in time to catch the last couple of songs by the opening act Emilie & Ogden, and make my way close to the stage for optimal shooting position. Emilie & Ogden sounded way better live than on paper, however, why would you mention that you don’t have merch if you don’t have merch?

Moving on, Tasseomancy turned out to be less folk and more electronic, which made me happy, as I didn’t have to look for a pillow and a blanket in a crowded club. They were actually perfectly weird, and I wouldn’t mind giving them another listen.

When I turned around next, the venue was packed. Ibeyi took a little longer to set up, but it was definitely worth it. The twin sisters have been blowing up on the internet with their heartfelt mix of trip-hop and African chants. It was easy for them to win the crowd over, seducing us first with an a-Capella number and projecting the warmest, most easy-going energy any artist can. Ibeyi have managed to shrink The Mod Club to the size of a kitchen, where everyone was a friend and the music just flowed naturally. The fans clapped and stomped along with every song (this crowd could compete even with the metalheads).

The inevitable technical difficulties were faced with humor, (the girls had to find -1 track for their it song “River”, because their beat maker suddenly lost power). The end result came out sloppy, but all was forgiven when they did an a-capella version of the song for encore.

I walked out of The Mod Club thinking that no other show could beat this experience this week. It wouldn’t on Wednesday, but there would be other outstanding performances on my journey through NXNE.

Grabbing some ice cream at The Big Chill, I made my way to The Silver Dollar to catch Suichu Blanco. I didn’t have great expectations from the band, but I know that, Japanese bands always catch attention of Toronto’s public, if only because they are deemed to be ‘exotic’. Sadly, I wasn’t wrong. As for the music – I’ve heard enough of Nirvana wannabes in my time, so I left before they finished.

Walked to Rivoli in time to catch a very hipster, but admittedly very tight band and chat with David Luning about him growing up in Cali. And that’s when I heard my bed calling me from across the city, so I had to abide.

Written by: Raya P Morrison
Photos by: Raya P Morrison