At this week’s 16th annual North by Northeast festival, more than 650 bands will overtake 50 city venues… and a whole lot more fans with wristbands will be competing to see them all.

Metro takes the pain out of scouring the schedule for you, with five sure-fire bands to check out at the fest tonight.

Outlaws and Gunslingers

Lee’s Palace, 8 p.m.: Six Shooter Records and Starfish Entertainment revive the successful Outlaws and Gunslingers showcase from 2009, featuring stacked talent trios performing each other’s songs and full bands driving the crowd into Friday morning. This year’s lineup includes Andy Kim, Justin Rutledge, Oh Susanna, Danny Michel, Andy Maize, Amelia Curran, Royal Wood, Jim Cuddy, Hawksley Workman, Colleen Brown, The Beauties, Joel Stewart and the Future Hall of Famers, and the Warped 45s.

Olenka and the Autumn Lovers

Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 10 p.m.: One of the strongest outfits to emerge from London, Ont.’s burgeoning indie music scene of late, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers is poised to break when the band releases its second full-length studio album, (aptly) due this fall. Although the sextet’s membership seems ever changing, and its musical style varies from folk-rooted Americana to Eastern European pop, founder Olenka Krakus’ resonant, wrenching voice anchors the band, alongside the narratives she adapts from personal experiences in Communist Poland.


Dakota Tavern, 11 p.m.: We can’t get enough of this Calgary, Alta.,-based band whose self-titled sophomore effort is one of Metro’s favourite albums of 2010. The four-piece’s ragged blues-rock slays live, echoing its vintage analogue recording style in locales that include stairwells and warehouses. Ghostkeeper’s guitar-driven numbers are rousingly haphazard in arrangement, mimicked by lead Shane Ghostkeeper’s choppy vocal inflections. Catch the band in this tiny venue while you still can.

Grand Analog

Rivoli, 12 a.m.: Winnipeg-birthed, Toronto-based Grand Analog is Odario Williams’ exciting, eclectic hip-hop troupe. One of Metro’s favourite sets at March’s Canadian Music Week, Grand Analog delivers an engaging, physical set with equal parts authority and ease. By adding jazz, reggae and rock flourish, Grand Analog’s sound stays fresh, no doubt thanks to the group’s preference of live instruments over digital ones. And when the kazoo comes out, watch out.


Sneaky Dee’s, 12 a.m.: If you’re in search of medicine for the pleasant indie rock that ails you, HEALTH is your dance noise apothecary. Colleagues of Crystal Castles, these four guys from Los Angeles, Calif., share the Toronto duo’s prowess for electronic experimentation and pulverizing volume, but stand out by allowing their music to breathe. Using the zoothorn, a microphone-guitar pedal creation, HEALTH adds ear-piquing decoration to dissonance.

Catch tomorrow’s Metro for our North by Northeast picks for Friday and Saturday.

Latest From ...