The Slow, Painful Death of NXNE

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Let’s face it, NXNE is dead. Or at least the brake lines have been cut and Lake Ontario is straight ahead. This year seemed to be more of the same as it was quite lonely throughout the club shows, especially Wednesday night at both The Garrison and down the street at the Baby G. A rough survey of the crowds saw about 25-30 of us scattered about at either venue. With more than ten listed as ‘media’ on each guestlist and likely a few of the artists’ friends in tow, that leaves the bartenders and a sound guy.

Dead like dinner.

Before their last song the lead singer of New Love (who’s a doppelganger for Phil Kessel by the way) said with all sincerity to the faint few: “Thank you to NXNE. I feel like we didn’t deserve it.” The sad thing is these guys from Hamilton seemed like good old boys decent enough to have their songs played on 102.1 or be on the Indie stage at a summer festival. Herein lies the problem with NXNE for the last two years – bands like these that are scheduled to play shows at club venues deserve better support and promotion from NXNE. Otherwise the festival needs to just focus on the big-name headliner weekend shows and make it a proper summer festival. Most of the Club Land shows, that were curated by other local artists like Brendan Canning, Shad, and Moe Berg to name a few, were poorly attended and took a distant second place to what was going on down at the inconveniently located Port Lands which, oddly enough, was also poorly attended.

Michael Hollett needs to figure out what the end goal for NXNE is. Does the festival exist to promote independent music at various venues throughout the city for a week while continuing to have three days of headlining acts at an outdoor stage or do one of those need to be re-jigged or scrapped altogether? Either way, Panic Manual has been writing reviews for this festival for ten years (seriously, here’s Ricky’s brief review from 2008) and it’s something we mostly look forward to every June. This is the first year that I’m doing shows by myself and feel little motivation to go out another night.

Sadly, the mismanagement and poor financial support has sunk this festival over the last two years and maybe it needs to take a year off and seriously reconsider what the end goal is.

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Posted on by Brent in Everything, North By Northeast

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