Volume 94, Issue 5
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
By Matt Pearson
Last weekend's North By Northeast Music Festival in Toronto was not all it was cracked up to be, according to some of the featured artists.
Scott Garred, an Austin, Texas-based singer/songwriter who performs under the guise, Super XX Man, questioned the importance of the event. "I don't think they [conferences] are very important at all. It's almost better to do a tour because you're more likely to see fans at the shows," he said.
This year's NXNE festival was complemented by a conference, which included numerous seminars and panel discussions with various music industry insiders. Garred admitted he does not generally participate in the conference aspects, preferring to perform.
The benefits of the festival were also called into question by Scott Walker, lead singer and guitarist of the Vancouver-based band, the Salteens. "I just think in general pop bands are overlooked," he said, noting the NXNE focus seemed to be placed on punk bands and bands from the Toronto area.
Walker criticized the conference side of NXNE, adding his band did not bother to register for the conference portion of the festival because they arrived so late. As for the Songwriting Circle, one of the conference's seminars, Walker played down its value. "They're not going to tell me how to write a song," he said.
Toronto-based band Sinclaire had a different experience. Guitarist and singer Ian Murray said he was pleased with the location and set time his band received. Each of the 27 venues had five 45 minute time slots for bands, beginning at 9 p.m.. "A lot of bands get shafted if you're not a buzz band," Murray said, adding time slots and venues were a matter of logistics.
Cori Ferugson, a publicist for NXNE, explained a band's reputation and compatibility with other bands, was taken into consideration when scheduling each of the festival's three evenings of entertainment. "Venues are assigned internally by NXNE," Ferguson said.
Bryan Shannon, CHRW 94.7 FM's music director, who attended NXNE, said he was impressed with the festival as a whole. He said he thought the conference was well-organized, but added he wished that college and university media had more clout.
"In the future, I would like to see more conference activity related to college media. We are the foundation for how a lot of this music gets out there," he said.
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