|North by Northeast (NXNE)|
North by Northeast 2011 in Yonge-Dundas Square Toronto on June 17, 2011
|Location(s)||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Years active||1995–2019, 2021–|
North by Northeast (or NXNE) is an annual music and arts festival held each June in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The festival's main focus is live music, but it also includes an eSports gaming tournament, comedy, a conversations series, a flea market and more. The festival events happen in a variety venues with free events on Canada's largest street, Yonge Street with events on the Street and in Yonge Dundas Square. In addition to full-time staff, the festival also has about 1,000 volunteers in festival operations. The alternative weekly newspaper Now was a major sponsor, and Now co-founder Michael Hollett owns NXNE in partnership with SXSW.
NXNE began in 1995, patterned on the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. It was co-founded by Michael Hollett. The SXSW organization is a minority ownership partner in NXNE. At that time it was a three-day festival with about 300 bands, mainly local, unsigned, independent artists. Over the years the festival expanded its attendance and began to feature well-known performers. The festival events took place in a number of venues, and participants purchased wristbands for entry into the events. In 2003, NXNE became the first promoters to produce live music in Toronto's Yonge Dundas Square. Gord Downie headlined NXNE's first Yonge Dundas Square show performing from new solo work. Downie's band The Tragically Hip played a 'secret show" at NXNE in 1997. Massive free concerts at Yonge Dundas Square and on Yonge Street have been cornerstones of NXNE to now.
NXNE Yonge Street performers include: Iggy and the Stooges; St. Vincent, Run the Jewels, Lizzo; Chvrches, Devo. Mac deMarco, Raekwon, The Flaming Lips, Stars, Billy Talent, De la Soul, Hollerado, Gza, Lights, Ludacris, Matthew Good and many more.
Previous showcasing Festival artists, sometimes in small venues before they were "names" also include: Post Malone, Lumineers, Father John Misty, Daniel Caesar, Arkells, Grimes, Future Islands, Sam Roberts, Schoolboy Q, Sarah Harmer, Vince Staples, Eagles of Death Metal and many more.
A film festival was added in 2001, screening primarily music-related features, documentaries and shorts. NXNE Film has screened films by directors such as Stewart Copeland (of rock band The Police), Don Letts, Guy Maddin, and Rob Heydon, and has hosted many world premieres, including Bruce McDonald's Broken Social Scene concert film, This Movie Is Broken, in 2010. Michael Tanner was the director of the festival. from 2007 to 2014.
In 2013, NXNE added comedy as a fourth stream, formally recognizing the growing number of standup, sketch, and improvisatory comics taking part in the festival since 2010. NXNE also added art as its fifth stream that year. including exhibits, projections, installations, performances and an art fair.
In 2014, NXNE marked its 20th consecutive year with over 1,000 music performers and an overall attendance of 350,000. The 2015 edition of NXNE ran for five days, June 17–21.
In 2016, under the direction of Michael Hollett, the festival organizers changed the format, concentrating more highly attended performances in a large venue in the Port Lands area, at 51 Commissioners St. The festival also added a video gaming component, and gaming was among the topics discussed at the one day Interactive conference at Ryerson University. As well as live music. Yonge Dundas Square provided festival-goers the chance to play on a giant screen and to compete against each other with live play-by-play commentary.
There was no festival in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic caused its cancellation.
Each year, NXNE Music presents hundreds of bands from Canada, the United States and around the world at about 50 Toronto music venues. Most venues host six bands each night (from 9 p.m. onward). The festival has many venues in Toronto's downtown core, along Queen Street West, College Street and the Bloor Street Annex. NXNE Music provides a platform for emerging artists, and allows fans to see "buzz bands" at small club venues. There are free outdoor concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto, and in recent years there are also international headline acts, including The Flaming Lips, Ludacris, Chvrches, Devo, Iggy and the Stooges, Billy Talent, A.A. Bondy, Uncle Sinner, Social Distortion, Raekwon & Ghostface Killah, De La Soul, Bad Religion, Stars, The Pharcyde, The Raveonettes, GZA, Descendents, Digable Planets, and K-os.
NXNE Talks features essential conversations about pressing issues in the music, eSports, gaming and entertainment industries. Past NXNE Talks speakers include: Stewart Copeland, The Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten, Steve Earle, Bruce Cockburn, GZA, Peaches, Patti Smith, Thomas Dolby, The Rolling Stones' Andrew Loog Oldham, Fab Five Freddy, Nolan Bushnell and Bullmoose). NXNE Talks tend to focus on the "why" rather than the "how to".
- "Union says Now Magazine in position for work stoppage, management threatened to close publication". Financial Post, Sean Craig | August 10, 2016
- "NXNE 20 Years, 20 Memories: A Look Back At Two Decades Of North-By-Northeast Music Fest". The Huffington Post Canada|By Aaron Brophy 06/18/2014
- Lackner, Chris (June 10, 2004). "Toronto's North by Northeast festival in its 10th year of keeping dreams alive", Canadian Press.
- With 300 bands on the playbill, will North By Northeast he the festival that finally puts Canadian music on the map?". Toronto Star - Toronto, Ont. Jun 8, 1995 G.1
- "This Interview About This Movie Is Broken Is Also Broken". Torontoist, June 17, 2010.
- "Top tracks from Toronto's bright young music makers". Toronto Star, Ian Gormely, March 14, 2016
- "A Report On 2016's New Style NXNE". FYI Music News, Kerry Doole Tue, 06/21/2016
- "‘You’ve got to embrace the change,’ says NXNE founder Michael Hollett". Toronto Star, Ben Rayner, March 19, 2016
- "NXNE 2010 - Friday Pics". NXNE 2010, Peter Matthews, 06/21/2010
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