5 to See at NXNE 2014: Vol. 6

by Steven Spoerl

It’s been said here before countless times already but the NXNE lineup for this year is absolutely ridiculous. Featuring an endless array of rising stars and premier acts from a wide selection of genres, Toronto’s set itself up quite nicely for an influx of incredible music, dedicated journalists, and devoted fans. Music wristbands are still available for an incredibly reasonable price and are well worth taking advantage of. It’s the best way to get access to the festival’s final leg and a shot at entrance to see the sets from the artists listed below, the volume 6 class of the 5 to See series.

1. Benjamin Booker

What to Know: Benjamin Booker just signed to ATO Records and will be releasing his self-titled effort in August. From the short previews of Benjamin Booker that have been available so far, it’s increasingly apparent that ATO made the right move. With a sound that incorporates equal amounts of blues, soul, punk, motown, and their evolutionary trajectories over the last handful of decades, it’s already positioned as a likely crossover hit. Live? It’s incendiary. Watch the fiery Letterman clip below for further proof.

What to Watch:

2. Pusha T

What to Know: Pusha T rose to prominence as half of Clipse, who created an untouchable classic in 2006 with Hell Hath No Fury. Since the release of that reord both Pusha T and No Malice have chosen to go their separate ways and explore solo routes. This resulted in another modern classic with Pusha T’s 2013 stunner, My Name Is My Name. With a live set to back up why he’s become one of the most acclaimed and celebrated artists in rap/hip-hop, this will be a set that fills up capacity fast. Don’t miss it.

What to Watch:

3. Future Islands

What to Know: Already hailed as one of 2014’s best live acts, Future Islands have been doing their best to earn that title. There was an explosion of interest in the band after their hypnotic Letterman performance drew national attention. While a lot of it seemed to be directly linked to vocalist Sam Herring’s unique dancing, it also came as an exclamation mark to a wave of buzz that had been steadily building around them. Reports of recent shows have made it abundantly clear that their shows have been constantly verging on getting out of hand thanks to frenzied audiences. Like Pusha T, this is going to be a priority set for a lot of people attending the festival- so get to wherever they are as early as possible, the crowd reaction alone should be a sight worth seeing.

What to Watch:

4. Camera

What to Know: Camera’s Radiate was a little-discussed triumph. Emphasizing the more punk elements of krautrock, the trio’s staked their name on guerilla performances in public places. Don’t be surprised to see them set up just about anywhere during the course of their Toronto stay- and don’t be shocked if their playing stops a lot of people dead in their tracks. Great music’s universal.

What to Watch:

5. White Mystery

What to Know: The Chicago duo have become mainstays of the DIY punk circuit, touring fiercely and building their reputation on frantic live shows. Four LP’s and two 7″s deep into their discography, the duo (composed of siblings Alex and Francis White) is still performing behind their most recent (and strongest) effort, Telepathic. A few late night show appearances have boosted their profile and they’re gearing up for what looks to be a major run towards bigger things. This is a set that won’t be worth missing.

What to Watch: