Starting today, more than 500 bands will descend on Toronto for North by Northeast. From alt-country, through electronic, to metal, the whole musical gamut will be represented at more than 50 venues across the city. Here, we present Metro’s musical must-sees for the weekend.
Boys Who Say No, 9 p.m., Clinton’s: Outfit with banjo, ukelele and cajón, this energetic independent Toronto quartet with middle school origins plays country-touched pop rock with shared vocals.
Songwriters in the Round, 9 p.m., Lee’s Palace: All-star pan-Canadian lineup, including Jim Cuddy, Royal Wood and Oh Susanna at 9 p.m., Jason Plumb, Kevin Hearn and Jenn Grant at 10 p.m., and NQ Arbuckle, Justin Rutledge and Luke Doucet at 11 p.m.
United Steel Workers of Montreal, 11 p.m., Horseshoe Tavern: Alt-country Quebec six-piece rocks breakneck bluegrass with nostalgic lyrics; Voted Best Country/Folk Act in the Montreal Mirror readers poll, two years running.
$100, 9 p.m., Dakota Tavern: Simone Schmidt leads one of Toronto’s finest dark country collectives with a voice that can be both brooding and benevolent, whether singing about cancer or colonization.
Band of Skulls, 9 p.m., Mod Club & Saturday, 11 p.m., El Mocambo (Downstairs): This dual-lead vocal U.K. trio is still reeling off its debut release, the catchy, blued-infused alternative rock album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey.
The Deep Dark Woods, 10 p.m., Dakota Tavern: This Saskatoon, Sask., foursome draws on early folk to shape its tender alt-country tunes, punctuated by simple harmonies and expressive lyrics, gently delivered.
Ruby Jean and the Thoughtful Bees, 12 a.m., Drake Hotel: The honey-sweet but strapping voice of Rebekah Higgs steers this Halifax electro quartet. RJATTB takes minimalist synth to the max, mobilizing a crowd in minutes.
CATL, 12 a.m., Silver Dollar: This ragged blues band brings a history of punk presence to shape its forceful, spontaneous sound. Don’t expect to hear a song performed the same twice, as CATL’s all about playing in the moment.
Bloodgroup, 3 a.m., Neutral Lounge & Thursday, 9 p.m., El Mocambo (Downstairs): One of Iceland’s non-Björk exports, synthpop quintet Bloodgroup, is quickly breaking waves the world over. Fronted vocally by lady Lilja, the band spins danceable, uptempo electronic beats with playful lyrics.