NXNE 2011: OFF!—June 16, 2011 @ Yonge Dundas Square by Jackman Chiu is licensed under CC BY 2.0​​

NXNE is always a chaotic experience. If you found yourself in Yonge-Dundas Square with the rest of the music-going herd, you were inevitably squashed, shoved, and possibly trampled (if so, I hope you are well). But no matter where you were during the festival, it is likely that some form of excitement was in order.

As I watched my crowd-surfing compadre get swept away by the crowd on Friday night’s Hollerado show, and then as I watched him subsequently dropped by an unsuspecting concert-goer who neglected to catch him, I realized that there was a lesson to be learned from all this. Here are some words of wisdom that will serve you well and not just in the direction of NXNE.

Back-up plans should be mandatory

It’s important to know, that at NXNE your backup plan will almost always be implemented. On the first night of the festival, I made the mistake of not telling my friend to buy a ticket to the Baths concert in advance. Thankfully, I am dreadfully indecisive, and as a result I had two other shows in mind to check out that night one, was only a ten-minute walk away from the sold-out venue. My back up plan turned out to be awesome, and it served not only as a lesson in being prepared for the unexpected, but it also served as a solid reminder that the audience numbers at NXNE are often unpredictable.

Uber to the rescue

Uber, touted as “Toronto’s best way to request a safe, reliable, and affordable ride,” is my new best friend, but it is also my wallet’s worst enemy. When I found myself in the east end at 2:00 am, and all I wanted was to return home, Uber was only a few taps away. Uber removes the awkward fumble for cash, or the need for a debit machine, as it saves and stores the user’s payment info — with user consent of course. And here’s the hint: if you’re with friends who haven’t used Uber before, and you invite them to sign up for Uber, you get a free ride.

My Backpack of Snacks

Eating is my favourite thing. Combine eating with music, and you now have two of my favourite things, all at once. But shelling out eight dollars for crappy poutine probably isn’t anybody’s favourite anything. A crucial NXNE-hack that I learned is to take the time to pack a couple of snacks, you’ll save yourself a ton of money — and you’ll still be allowed into your favourite band’s show. I might suggest you avoid trying to smuggle in a whole pizza, but no one is going to bother you about a banana and a bag of gummy worms.

19 and up                        

I arrived at the Best Coast show at Yonge-Dundas Square about an hour before the band arrived. While one side of the Square was already jam-packed with sticky, sunburned music fans, the other section was pretty empty.

Free, outdoor concerts like NXNE’s traditional Saturday night show, typically divide the crowd into two segments: one area for parents with kids, teens, or people who don’t have any interest in drinking and another are that is only accessible to those who are 19 and older.

Any Torontonian can tell you that Yonge and Dundas is famous for its cavalcade of characters — from the ‘believe guy,’ to the ‘Toronto Batman.’ But, within the 19 plus section there is sanctuary, you can rest easy knowing that none of these icons of downtown Toronto will be able to sneak up behind you and shout in your ear.

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