North By Northeast (NXNE) June 15 2013 Recap

NXNE at Yonge-Dundas Square

June 16 2013 – One year between NXNE music festivals is a long wait, but when the event kicks off our insatiable quest for ROCK continues in full force. Not only are we excited to see our favorite bands one more time, we are thrilled to discover the new gems of the Toronto Indie scene. Although the festival caters to a wide range of musical tastes, we here at T-Mak World are pure rockers at heart and are children of the school of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rush, Black Sabbath, Rival Sons, etc. Our full NXNE coverage (including band interviews) is found here so take a look around if you wish. Here is a video montage of the bands we saw tonight.

Tonight we saw 10 more bands to bring our tally for the four days we covered the festival to 43 (15 bands on Day 1, 10 bands on Day 2, 8 bands on Day 3).

Steve Hill (Yonge Dundas Square @2 PM)

Steve Hill

Steve Hill rocked Yonge-Dundas Square for all the assorted onlookers. It’s doubtful that many were familiar with Hill and his one band act. Of course T-Mak World readers know him well as we covered both of his shows here last year, interviewed him before his November show at the Horseshoe and named him one of the top 10 indie “bands” of 2012. Hill has augmented his sound with the addition of a snare drum to his setup and duct taped a Coke can to his right foot.  His performance earned Gig Of The Night honours.

The Damn Truth (Rivoli @3 PM)

The Damn Truth

The Damn Truth

The Damn Truth earned a Gig Of The Night honour a couple of nights ago so this band really does kick serious ass. This was their third of three NXNE sets, this one a shorter set as part of a SiriusXM showcase. Quite possibly the best rock band we have ever heard out of Montreal. The Damn Truth features seriously great songs and awesome musicianship. The band let loose for a rolicking set to the sparse afternoon crowd at the Rivoli. It was strange leaving to blinding sunlight after catching their set.

Click here for more photos of The Damn Truth

First You Get The Sugar (The Hideout @11 PM)

First You Get The Sugar

First You Get The Sugar

Danceable, hooky electro-rock. Featuring multiple songwriters, lead singers, and multi-instrumentalists, First You Get The Sugar can slam a riff or coax a giddy tear with equal aplomb, their music a fit in the dens of academia or on the stickiest of downtown dance floors.” is what we are told on the band’s bio but this was pure rock tonight as the Saturday night prime time crowd at The Hideout loved this band’s set.

the Morals (Cameron House @11 PM)

the Morals

the Morals

No correlation to the rock sound that this website focuses on. we still popped in to catch a couple of tunes from the Morals for a change of pace. Although we mostly cover rock we are music lovers and this folky set was a very good refreshing change of pace for us. The band is described as “A unique style of ambient folk that combines the peacefulness of a small town with the tensions of a buzzing metropolis. With heartbreaking harmonies and love ballads filled with raw sincerity, they are certain to make a loud noise out of such a quiet sound.

Sara Johnston (Rivoli @11 PM)

Sara Johnston

Sara Johnston

One more stop that is not our usual rock format that we cover but with a voice of an angel how can one not enjoy the sweet music Sara Johnston was performing. Very mellow but heart warming music made an enjoyable pit stop for us. “In the Bran Van 3000 ‘Glee’ era, Sara Johnston toured the world with them. Solo, the accomplished vocalist and multi-instrumentalist has released two albums and collaborated with reggae troubadour Mishka and New Zealand duo, Flight of the Conchords.”

Dearly Beloved (Bovine @12 AM)

Dearly Beloved

Dearly Beloved

The Bovine was hot and sweaty for Dearly Beloved and their brand of raw energetic garage punk. The band is an institution in Toronto’s live bar scene and their veteran skills really glowed tonight. Bassist Rob Higgins is Geddy Lee’s nephew so you know there is musical genius in the band’s DNA. Excellent performance wins a Gig Of The Night from one of our editors (see below).

Click here for more photos of Dearly Beloved

WAXY (Cherry Cola’s @12 AM)



Highly passionate kick ass real rock. The 3 guys came from California and gave Toronto notice. The band oozed 70’s rock ethic and at times sounded like a Jim Morrison/Eddie Vedder mashup in the best possible way. Excellent vocals with intense and hypnotic music easily garnered them a Gig Of The Night from one of our editors (see below).

Click here for more photos of WAXY

Diemonds (Bovine @1 AM)



Easily a Gig Of The Night for the most energetic pure rock and roll performance of NXNE. This band is a throwback to the 80’s look with a 70’s hard rock sound. WICKED!

Click here for more photos of Diemonds

Lower (Cherry Cola’s @2 AM)

Continuing the global theme of NXNE we next saw a Danish band. At this point Cherry Cola’s was a sweaty pit of good music and as the 2AM shift started Lower really kicked it up a notch. “Danish four-piece on their first North American tour. It’s noisy and it’s lo-fi, jolting, and brash.It also draws from an emotional palette far surpassing the average idea of punk music’s aggression. In the words of label mates Iceage: “It’s almost annoying they could be so good.”

Mushy Callahan (The Hideout @2 AM)

Mushy Callahan

Mushy Callahan

Boy was it packed at the Hideout! This is what NXNE is all about – late night revellers on a Saturday night and Mushy Callahan were in the spotlight. They delivered in spades and had the crowd rocking. They describe themselves as “Four brothers with beefy bass lines, arena-ready solos, and a modern rock radio sound. Three-part harmonies hint to a classic rock homage – but Mushy Callahan’s appeal extends past the golden years of guitars thanks to their big melodies and hooks.”

VERDICT: As we always do our four editors select their “Gig Of The Night” which is a reflection of personal taste and the overall band’s performance (both musically and stylistically).

Here is what we liked tonight:

John Dash (Movie Critic)Steve Hill gets my Gig Of The Night Day for delivering a musical wizard performance at Yonge/Dundas Square to the curious passerby.

Michael Litt (Music Editor)Dearly Beloved got hot, sticky and sweaty for a performance that rocked my socks off. They are my Gig Of The Night.

Steve Mallinson (Sr Editor and Photographer)WAXY was the great discovery of NXNE for us (Public Animal can’t qualify as a discovery since their show was highly anticipated). These guys have a very bright future and are cool down-to-earth guys when we talked to them after the show. They loved their time in Toronto and are looking forward to another opportunity to come back. And we’re looking forward to their next visit.

Terry Makedon (Beverage Provider of T-Mak World) – Diemonds delivered by far the most energetic performance of NXNE – this is real rock and roll kids and they are my Gig Of The Night.

Waxy - Gig Of The Night Winners

Article – Terry Makedon | Photos – Steve Mallinson | Video – Michael Litt
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