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Monday, Jul 29, 2013
by Allistair Pinsof
As Pitchfork Music Festival 2013 struggled to find, refresh, or maybe just reinvent its identity, one has to wonder: what exactly is the appeal of music fest in 2013, apart from seeing a lot of bands in the same vicinity?

At some point in time, music festivals transformed from being meeting places for like-minded music lovers to by-products of our binge-happy culture that wants all the things at the same place at the same time. Pitchfork Music Festival began as a gathering for fans of the website and, above all, fans of the bands that the website celebrates, but it has increasingly become a festival where,  instead of artists and fans clashing in awkward and amusing ways, as one would expect at a festival where Yo La Tengo opens for R. Kelly, people simply listen to the music.


It’s a pessimistic observation to make, but it’s the type of thought you have when your eyes wander away from a Yo La Tengo guitar solo and onto the crowd: frowning R. Kelly fans in lawn chairs (not festival-approved, mind you) at the front, young teens in the middle frantically checking the Pitchfork Music Festival app in between glances at Ira Kaplan swinging his guitar like Kurt Cobain, and, in the back, the older clusters of friends that enter and leave the festival as groups, rarely talking to anyone they didn’t come with.


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Monday, Jun 17, 2013
After two days heavy with buzz-worthy acts, I decided to get back to basics on Friday night. Southern Ontario has a storied history of gutsy roots acts, and both young and old were on display at venues across Toronto’s Dundas St.

But first, a little further east at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, was the headline event of NXNE 2013: The National. Finding a spot to park my bike amongst the thousands who’d flocked downtown for the free concert was quite the task, but not nearly as difficult as finding a spot with decent sightlines to catch the band of brothers and the increasingly aged-looking Matt Berninger. Sure, the band’s mix of classics and cuts from their latest, Trouble Will Find Me, was entertaining enough. Yet age has certainly affected this band’s aesthetic, as a hardened realism ends up playing out in tracks like “Graceless”, which sound much more driving than anything they’ve ever done.


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Friday, Jun 14, 2013
A large element of NXNE 2013 involves efforts to re-brand the City of Toronto as one of the great music cities of the world.

4479, a new initiative is “…being led by a growing coalition of music industry leaders, in conjunction with supporters who work in tourism, municipal government and business,” according to Amy Terrill, Vice President Public Affairs at Music Canada. 4479 is part of an ongoing study comparing Toronto to other great music cities, so with that in mind, there was an effort to check out a few local artists as part of Thursday’s festivities.


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Thursday, Jun 13, 2013
On the opening night of the 2013 Nelsonville Music Festival, several attendees reported seeing a meteor or fireball in the sky.

Those who failed to witness the event were transfixed by a comparable burst of energy onstage. Gogol Bordello, Thursday night’s headline act, performed with a level of intensity that was exhausting to watch and difficult to imagine sustaining. That the band is booked through September says a lot about its endurance.


There were other reasons to watch the sky during the weekend, as rain and storms threatened and occasionally interrupted the proceedings. But throughout the four days, the bands, fans, organizers and staff once again contributed to an exceptional festival experience. This year’s lineup was particularly well curated.


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Thursday, Jun 13, 2013
NXNE has always played a vital role in establishing Toronto as one of the world’s premiere music cities, though the 2013 version could not have come at a better time for the city.

With the wounds from epic collapse of the city’s beloved Maple Leafs hockey club finally healed, the city became embroil in the now infamous “Crackgate” scandal. A video of already comical Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack has been rumoured to exist, making Toronto the butt of many a joke.


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