Here are bios on all the great bands who played the inaugural year of NXNE Port Lands in June 2016.
Friday, June 17 | Commissioners Stage Artists | doors 1 pm
Schoolboy Q (9:30 -11 pm) – LA rapper Quincy Hanley, better known as Schoolboy Q has been moving up the music charts with every disc and mix tape he’s released since 2009 when he first crashed onto the scene. His 2014 release Oxymoron landed at the top of the charts lead by his Man of the Year single.
His latest disc is due any day, maybe before his NXNE Port Lands gig but he’s been teasing out tracks including the latest, just out, That Part, a collaboration with Kanye West. He dropped Fat Tony in April and Q has clearly sharpened his craft – and the edge on his rhymes.
Schoolboy Q bounced from colleges to gangs but music was always calling him. He’s a member of LA-based hip hop super group Black Hippy alongside Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Kendrik Lamar. A hit maker with his recorded tracks, Schoolboy Q’s epic live shows can’t be missed.
GHOSTFACE KILLAH (7 – 8:10 pm) – Ghostface Killah has been making rap history since he helped found one of the most influential and important bands in America, the Wu-Tang Clan. Wu-Tang didn’t just pioneer a style of rap but also have had and continue to have a huge influence on visual art, film and of course, politics.
In addition to his work in Wu, Ghostface has pursued a vibrant solo career since 1996 that his seen his releases near the top of the charts to this day. And he often guests with other Wu-Tang members, especially Raekwon, his roommate at the time the Wu-Tang concept was developed. Ghostface continues hugely successful collaborations with: MF Doom, Missy Eliott, De la Soul, Sheek Louch and Toronto’s own BadBadNotGood.
He recorded a track for women from abused relationships, “Message From Ghostface” in 2009 in response to Chris Brown’s attacks on Rhianna.
SHAMIR (4:10 – 5:40 pm) – Growing up in his hometown Las Vegas clearly had huge influence on this theatrical, 19 year old rising soul star.
Shamir is noted having an androgynous countertenor voice and is self-identified as genderqueer. “I don’t identify as gay because I don’t identify as male or female,” he told a recent interviewer.
Already a favourite of critics worldwide, Pitchfork says of his voice, “A piercing countertenor somewhere between Prince masquerading as Camille and the cracking adolescent soul of the teenage Michael Jackson.”
Wrote another, “Shamir’s voice, like Joplin’s, stops you in your tracks.”
Come to the Port Lands June 17 and create your own description of this emerging, amazing new star.
TASHA THE AMAZON (2:20 -3:20 pm) – Toronto’s hip hop explosion isn’t just a boys’ club, Toronto-based producer and rapper Tasha the Amazon is picked by many to be the next break out from the 6.
With a German-Jamaican background, there’s dancehall vibe to some her music and a cannot-be-denied quality to her approach. Blog TO says her shows are filled with “fire and passion” and picks her as a Toronto breakout artist.
Tasha once told NOW Magazine, “I see myself as a party conductor. We’re all in this party together. I just happen to be on stage. So I’ll do anything to raise the energy.”
So come to the party early on Friday at NXNE Port Lands. Tasha the Amazon will make sure the party gets started right away and you’ll witness the future of hip hop in the 6. See you there.
Friday, June 17 | Canal Stage Artists | doors 1 pm
DANIEL CAESAR (8:20 -9:20 pm) – Toronto’s 21 year old R&B and soul stunner Daniel Caesar is poised for huge success. Raised in a religious Toronto-area home, the son of a gospel singer he’s already being dubbed the next Weeknd by enthusiastic critics.
The Toronto Star calls him “The 6’s next chosen one.”
Pitchfork finds hints of Jeff Buckley along with contemporary gospel acts in his sound. “His voice, which blooms and flickers like the borealis, lifts on the optimistic hook and crescendos above a tangle of blues guitar, bass and the thick slap of drums.”
NOW Magazine gushed after Caesar’s recent local club show debut: “Caesar has a voice that somehow sounds even more perfect in real life than on record, the kind of natural talent that Decision Makers drool over.”
And Exclaim! wades in declaring, “Daniel Caesar has what it takes to go amazing musical places.” Like NXNE’s Port Lands shows.
Can you believe the hype? Believe it, Caesar is going to be a star.
TIKEN JAH FAKOLY (5:50 -6:50 pm) – Fakoly was born in the late-60s in north-western region of Africa’s Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and started playing reggae as a young man.
But his reggae rhythm quickly took on a political tone, living in a country under dictatorial rule. Fakoly says he plays “music to wake up consciences” and is a pan-Africanist determined to celebrate the continent’s future and to lay blame for the injustices of its past. He was forced to leave his native country when the political pressure and fears for his life grew too great so he took up exile in Bamako, Mali in 2003. He was banned from Senegal in 2007 for lyrics criticizing that country’s president.
Like Bob Marley, Alpha Blondy and so many more reggae masters before him, there’s great music at the heart of his pointed politics. Often singing in the French of Cote d‘Ivorie’s colonial masters, Fakoly’s irresistible rhythms are sure to be a Port Lands highlight.
MICK JENKINS (3:30 -4:30) – He was born in Huntsville, Alabama but this emerging hip hop star on the rise has been turning heads creating Mickstapes from his current Chicago base with poetic rhymes that eschew bling-based braggadocio.
His vibe-y tracks with phat beats caught the attention Chi-town’s rap-telegensia and he was invited to record on the single Crossroads with Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa in 2013 generating plenty of hype.
Stepping up from Mickstapes, look for Jenkins’ debuts disc this summer, maybe just before NXNE (T)he (H)ealing (C)omponent.
Pitchfork says Jenkins lyrics “attack youthful hypocrisy and conformity, the empty pursuit of money and sex, and his peers’ susceptibility to these traps.”
Noisey says Jenkins “thunderous” voice contrasts with the jazzy vibe of his tracks.
DREW HOWARD ( 1:20 -2:10 pm) Up and coming Toronto rapper Drew Howard is part of the Get Home Safe Collective that also includes Derek Wise and Jazz Cartier and has been featured in the Weeknd’s King of the Fall video. FADER says “Howard alternates between turnt-up bars and sweet R and B. Something that sounds like partying and falling in love late at night in the downtown core.”
Saturday, June 18 | Commissioners Stage Artists | doors 1 pm
FATHER JOHN MISTY (9:30 -11 pm) – Born to an evangelical family, Josh Tillman became Father John Misty after moving to Seattle and serving a stint as drummer in folk phenoms, Fleet Foxes.
Last time through Toronto, he sold out Massey Hall in minutes and this time the crowd and the buzz should be even bigger. Hell, Misty must love the 6 since he tweeted his enthusiasm for a mash up of one of his tracks and Drake’s the Legend.
Pitchfork says, “For someone fond of glockenspiel, Tillman says fuck a lot. For all his poetic undercurrents, Tillman is a showman all the way.”
A darling of critics and fans alike, Father John Misty will be the perfect, epic close to NXNE’s debut at the Port Lands festival site.
MOTHER MOTHER (6:40 – 8 pm) – Four discs deep into a seven year career, Vancouver’s Mother Mother are a force of
The Toronto Star has called their sound “orchestral harmonies and hip hop influenced ballads.” The Edmonton Journal saw it differently calling them “quirky, herky jerky, hillbilly art pop.”
A frenetic five piece not afraid to ruffle feathers, Mother Mother has been killing it live for years. Brother and sister , Ryan Guldemond and Molly Guldemond, are joined by Ali Siadat, Jeremy Page and Jasmin Parkin for a vocal-driven pop sound that audiences can’t resist.
A BC paper says their live shows, “come together to create a satin smooth and cosmopolitan experience, the music, something like the bite at the end of a well-mixed cocktail.”
Take us home to Mother Mother.
DAN MANGAN (4:20 – 5:20 pm) – Now that Drake has repped the JUNOs on Saturday Night Live — Black Jeopardy skit anyone? — we’re sure Vancouver’s Dan Mangan is even prouder of his two Juno Canadian music excellence awards.
Mangan picked up Best New Artist and Alternative Album of the Year JUNOs in 2012 for his disc Oh Fortune and he was long listed for the Polaris Music Prize the same year.
His early work has been compared with Chad VanGaalen and Bon Iver. Mangan is now touring with a band as Dan Mangan + Blacksmith in support of his latest Club Meds which has picked up great reviews in the Guardian, The Observer, Q among others.
Jangly, juxtaposed juiciness that’s truly original.
LAND OF TALK (2:20 -3:20 pm) – Elizabeth Powell powers Montreal’s Land of Talk with soft, soulful and certain vocals anchoring their gritty rock sound.
A one-to-watch band in 2006, Land of Talk took a significant break in 2011 and have stormed back with a handful of amazing live shows and the promise of a new disc soon.
Sometimes compared with Sleater Kinney, we’re certain the break hasn’t taken any of the edge off Powell’s powerful approach. Come welcome them back to kick off Saturday’s Main Stage shows.
Saturday, June 18 | Canal Stage Artists | doors 1 pm
BORN RUFFIANS (8:10 – 9:20 pm) – These Canadian indie rockers learned their rock chops on the rocky shores of choppy Georgian Bay, initially based in Midland, Ontario.
Fan favourites because of their powerful live shows, the Ruffians moved to Toronto in 2004 and now record for Paper Bag Records. They’ve been compared to Vampire Weekend and Modest Mouse and they’re not afraid to unleash their powerful rock sound with sometimes witty lyrics.
Born Ruffians have honed their live show craft with steady touring and their worldwide travels have often taken them to shimmery Las Vegas where the stars aren’t only in the casinos and glittering on senior citizens’ sweaters.
THE ZOLAS (5:30 -6:30 pm)
Vancouver’s Zachary Gray (vocals/guitar) and Tom Dobrzanski (pianos) are at the core of the BC four piece that England’s Independent newspaper describes as “outsider pop music reminiscent of The Shins.”
The National Post, everybody’s favourite rock and roll paper, says The Zolas play “infectious electro pop to get you in the mood with straight up indie to a new bubble gum vibe.”
The Zolas started recording in 2009 and made their first disc in a studio Dobrzanski built in his parents’ basement while he went to University of British Columbia. BC bands Said the Whale and Hey Ocean! went on to record there, no word if Mom or Dad brought down snacks or beers.
Grady worked with Carly Rae Jepson on the track “LA Hallucination” for 2015 disc Emotion.
HIGHS (3:30 – 4:10 pm) – Described by Exclaim! as a band “that seem destined to go places quickly,” Toronto’s HIGHS have been rapidly building momentum with their unique approach to pop music.
Fast-becoming the darlings of Toronto’s vibrant music scene, alt-pop creators HIGHS’ much-acclaimed musical blend has taken them from bedroom demos to festival stages in a matter of a few short years. Most recently they released their debut full-length Dazzle Camouflage (2016 via Indica) that was produced by Luke Smith, best known for his work with Foals and Depeche Mode.
HIGHS single “I Do, Do You?” is currently on rotation on Toronto’s alternative station Indie88, while the video has seen over 25k views on Youtube, and 235k streams on Spotify.
To coincide with the release Dazzle Camouflage, the band teamed up with 11 Toronto-based visual artists to produce a curated lyric book. Produced alongside independent publisher Lillian Boy Press, the Dazzle Camouflage zine brings a visual component to each song seen through the eyes of artists that both the band and publisher admire.
They have shared stages with Cold War Kids, Twin Forks, Hey Ocean, Royal Canoe, and Modest Mouse across Canada, HIGHS have also played WayHome Music & Arts Festival, CMJ Marathon and most recently sold-out their first headlining show at Lee’s Palace in Toronto.
DEVIN CUDDY BAND with special guest Jim Cuddy (1:20 -2:20 pm) Talented Toronto based singer-songwriter Devin Cuddy comes from Canadian rock royalty, his blue blood flows from Blue Rodeo front man Jim Cuddy.
But Devin has taken a different road than his Dad, writing and recording distinctly his own sound, leaving alt-country to Pops and using his rich voice and fierce piano playing to fuel barrel house tunes with roots deep in New Orleans, 50s rhythm and blues with a little Fats Waller, Jellyroll and Tom Waits rolled in.
The band’s first disc, 2012’s Volume One was up for a JUNOs roots and traditional album of the year. The latest disc Kitchen Knife continued Cuddy’s upward drive and he tours regularly pushing out his propulsive sound.
“The band is truly in its element in front of a live crowd,” Exclaim! declares and we have to agree. Fixtures as part of Toronto’s Cameron House scene it will be great to see Cuddy work the big festival stage.We’ve got Father John, Mother Mother so why not Father and Son to kick it off?