I've never been to South by Southwest, but it seems like a drunken bacchanalia from the reviews I've read and pictures I've seen. It also seems like a lot of people can't get into the shows that they want to see, and the shows rarely start on time. I've also heard that Austin can get pretty hot, but maybe that's just in the summer. It also seems like there's a slurry of shit bands. But hell, what do I know? I've never been there.
So it's with some hesitation that I inform you of Toronto, Canada's 13th annual North by Northeast Music and Film Festival and Conference. You wouldn't find Boris playing the Mountain Dew stage or Jandek playing a church, but you might have a chance to see Dinosaur Jr if you are among the 100 lucky enough to have a delegate badge and/or wristband.
But I'm missing the point, really. The conference, lasting from June 7-10, is a gathering of music industry insiders, music fans, and over 450 bands spread across 30 Toronto venues. NXNE also showcases a film festival, playing, among other things, the documentary Kurt Cobain: About a Son.
And while there'll certainly be a fair number of shit bands (read, mediocre), NXNE does a better job at focusing on bands looking for their big break, not already broken (see Boris playing the SXSW Mountain Dew stage), so it serves a far greater philanthropic purpose.
Playing in addition to festival headliners Dinosaur Jr are Awesome Color, Uncut, You Say Party! We Say Die!, Icarus Line, and potential up-and-comers Sleeping in the Aviary. All 400+ bands are potential up-and-comers, truth be told, and the full band list can be viewed here.
If you live in the Toronto area or plan on being in the area, I'd recommend this opportunity to check out some bands. I'm sure just as much fun can be had in Toronto during NXNE as can be had in Austin during SXSW, but as I said earlier, I wouldn't know.