NXNE 2013: My First NXNE Experience at the Gladstone Hotel

NXNE is well known for the gazillion of bands and artists that play at various venues in downtown Toronto during the 7-day festival. I had to admit that it was quite difficult for me to decide who to check out given the countless options. What did I do, you might ask? I decided to go with my favorite genre, rhythm and blues, and see who was going to put on a show at this year’s festival. It turned out that a few acts would be playing at the Gladstone Hotel, so that was where I chose to hang out last Friday night. I was there from 8:30 pm until about midnight, that meant that I was able to check out four acts, each with their unique flavour and passion!

Flo (@Flosoul) is a Canadian R&B artist who hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba. She performed with her band a number of tracks from her second album, Pieces of Me, including “Hateless,” “Ten,” and “Gone,” her latest single about dealing with a painful break-up. Flo’s style did remind me a bit of Divine Brown, another Canadian R&B artist, but with a modern twist.

Reesa Renee

Up next was Reesa Renee (@ReesaRenee) from Washington DC. She donned a style, fashion wise that reminded me of Kelis and Solange. Accompanied by two back-up singers and her band, she performed tracks from her debut album, Reelease, including “Listen,” “Wonderland Cool,” and “Reelease.” She had this raspy voice when she was singing; and the choice of her songs reflected her versatility beyond the genre of neo-soul.

Unbuttoned (@unbuttonedmusic), a Toronto-based group hit the stage after to shower us with their feel-good, melodic performance. They got people moving while performing tracks such as “Something Wicked” and “Dance Like You” from their Electric Kingdom EP. They particularly impressed me with their rendition of “One in a Million,” a track by the late R&B singer, Aaliyah.


Before I left for the night, I was able to check out The PepTides (@ThePepTides), a group from Ottawa, Ontario. While the group was setting up, I knew that I was going to be entertained. I mean, look at the size of the group! There were five singers, plus another five musicians. The next thing I noticed was their elaborate, vintage outfits! From the funky “Love Live Get High” to the musical “Attack of the Treadmill” to the retro sounding “The Enemy,” The PepTides performed with great harmonies and smooth choreography. You could tell that they were having fun. They almost gave you that feeling of what it was like to chill with your university buddies and BFFs!

The PepTides

To summarize, my first NXNE concert experience was beyond credible. It was a great way for me to discover new and emerging artists and to get my craving for R&B music satisfied. I was particularly proud of all of the Canadian acts who had gone out there to do their thing and to keep us engaged and entertained! If you haven’t had a chance to check out any of the above artists, I would strongly recommend that you go and explore their music! I can assure you that you will be amazed!

Photo Credits: Taken from individual artist websites and all credit to the artists and the photographers who took them.