North by Northeast (NXNE) 2017 began with a sparsely-filled parking lot and ended with a semi-bang. Known for its annual takeover of the city, the music and arts festival just concluded its second year last weekend, centred at the Port Lands venue in downtown Toronto. And as usual, it was a star-studded lineup with acts ranging from Post Malone to Passion Pit. This year also boasted free water, lots of shade and a handful of brand sponsorships. Festival goers also got the chance to get a view of the Toronto skyline atop a ferris wheel or a paratrooper ride, which basically was a tilted and faster ferris wheel. There was also a comedy tent where people could rest their tired feet and listen to jokes and funny anecdotes.
Despite the fanfare, this year’s festival felt somewhat bare. It could be because of Pride, or the thunderstorm warnings, or the somewhat confusing line-up, or any number of the range of factors working against the 22-year-old festival. It’s not a good sign when a festival gives out hundreds of tickets away for free the day before.
Although the sparse crowds drew criticism (even dubbed “the fyre fest of Canada” by one particularly harsh Twitter user), it was all the better for attendees who could quickly make their way to the front row for nearly every performance. Everything felt small, or to put it nicely, very intimate.
Low attendance aside, every performer still gave their all and made for an interesting weekend.
Check out our separate reviews of each day’s best acts and food: