While music fans are likely to splurge a bit at any one of the 50 downtown Toronto venues hosting bands at this year’s North by Northeast (NXNE) Music & Film Festival And Conference, organizers are also keenly aware that some regular attendees might be more budget-conscious in this recession year.
With that in mind, NXNE managing director Andy McLean recommends this hard-to-beat highlight for the festival’s 15th edition: Free outdoor showcases at Yonge-Dundas Square. And not just for one day, either.
“Having Yonge-Dundas Square to run shows for four days and nights is a massive commitment from us and from the city,” McLean says. “This is our third year of doing concerts in the square, but the first time we’ve done these over that long a time frame. It’s part of the growth of Yonge-Dundas Square coming into its own as a place to catch a show.”
The free Yonge-Dundas shows will feature, among others, showcases from Wintersleep, Black Lips, founding Wu-Tang Clan rapper GZA, Melissa Auf Der Mar and Zoobombs.
Traditionally, NXNE provides the perfect gathering place for up-and-coming acts of multiple genres to strengthen their connections with fans, music business types and other performers. Even as YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and other means of Internet-based self-promotion currently play a important role in such connections, McLean still believes that nothing beats face-to-face interactions.
“Bands come here to make new fans, make industry connections, hook up with the media … you have five days in order to promote yourself in whichever way you can,” McLean says. “Some wind up signing to a label, if that’s the direction they want to go. But most of the time it’s about developing contacts and continuing their career growth.”
Along with the live showcases, trade shows and conferences (including a celebrity interview with the aforementioned GZA), NXNE is upping its film festival component. Also worth investigating is the fest’s third annual charity soccer match, pitting athletic types against musician types, being held at BMO Field.
The festival runs today through to Sunday. Tickets for individual shows are available, along with wristbands and passes ranging from $25 for one-day users to $250 for a VIP Super Pass —which allows festival-goers to pre-book up to 10 showcases — can be purchased. Visit nxne.com for details.
– For more details on North by Northeast visit www.nxne.com