Julien Balbontin/THE VARSITY

NXNE is never short of musical talent — last year’s line-up was filled with quality artists ranging from St. Vincent to Run the Jewels, and while this year it may not be as obvious at first glance that the calibre of music is top-notch, NXNE has graciously provided us with the perfect mix of local favourites, chart toppers, and up-and-coming talent. To help navigate your way through this year’s festival, we’ve compiled a list of artists that will be worth checking out.

The lesser knowns

As many have become accustomed to, popularity and quality are not always synonymous in the music industry. Performing at NXNE, local talents range from psych-pop duo Most People, to Dilly Dally, a band that best categorizes themself as “epic grunge pop world.” There is no shortage of American talent either — nostalgia-inducing singer Nick Waterhouse will grace the Horseshoe Tavern with his bluesy guitar vibes, and U.S. Girls will be providing The Garrison with her unique sound and captivating stage presence.

Nick Waterhouse, “This Is A Game”:

The rhymes

Enter the “No Flex Zone” and check out Rae Sremmurd at Danforth Music Hall. In their recent effort, this rap duo has graced the charts with their fun loving album Sremmlife, an album filled with carefree rhymes and upbeat instrumentals. Call it a guilty pleasure if you must; Rae Sremmurd is not one to miss. Toronto rapper Jazz Cartier is also on the bill, and after recently seeing him perform at Canadian Music Week I can personally attest to his greatness. Watch out, Drake: you may no longer be the only “6 God” in town. Other artists to check out are Vince Staples, Casey Veggies, and the politically outspoken and exceptionally talented Heems.

Rae Sremmurd, “No Flex Zone”:

The beats

If, like me, you’re suffering from serious Crystal Castles withdrawal (may they rest in peace), NXNE has you covered. HEALTH, a Crystal Castles collaborator will be performing in addition to former Crystal Castles front-woman Alice Glass, who will be performing a DJ set. If you like either of these artists, I also suggest checking out Zola Jesus, if you’re not put off by the religious connotation, it is sure to be a divine performance.

The folk vibes

The New Pornographers are a fine example of a band that, over the years, has managed to maintain their indie sound despite their increasing popularity. The band is comprised of stellar musicians including national treasure Neko Case, making this seven-piece collective a joy to see live.  It’s also worth noting that Angel Olsen and Majical Cloudz — bands that I’ve curled into the fetal position and cried to an unhealthy amount of times — will be performing.

The “Pop” that should be popular

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m missing “Whip My Hair,” but I can say that I’m looking forward to seeing Willow Smith at this year’s festival. While it seemed as though she briefly dropped off the face of the earth, she’s actually been experimenting with different genres, so her performance is bound to get interesting. Other pop-worthy artists include Lucius or Glass Animals, a group reminiscent of Paul Epworth’s production work with Adele or Bruno Mars.

Glass Animals, “Gooey”:

Earplugs required

When I saw the punk rock collective Iceage perform last fall, I was immediately enthralled by the bands raw energy on stage, not to mention Elias Ronnenfelt’s dreamy looks and aggressive voice. Other loud noises at NXNE include Black Metal group Deafheaven, whose sound is lush and abrasive, but be prepared for a headache unless you’re equipped with earplugs.

Iceage, “The Lord’s Favorite”:

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