Shutting down NXNE with Joey Bada$$, Smif N Wessun and Fat Tony


by Richard Moore | photos by Samuel Engelking

Young and Dundas Square, located in the center of Toronto, becomes home to most popular NXNE acts every June. Our chosen highlight performances were on Sunday – who does not like some good old hip hop.

While surrounding streets filled with teens climbing fire escapes attempting to get a better view of the stage, many have chosen to occupy the near by high-rise patios while the rest packed into the square. By 6:00 pm the crowd had grown to span half the area, mostly younger teens taking advantage of the relaxed security, absorbing in some quality hip-hop with Fat Tony on stage keeping the crowd within an arms reach.

“What’s up Toronto, I’m going to play a song nobody’s ever heard before”.

The typically unfortunate long wait times between artists had everyone restlessly shuffling around, but with multiple booths around the area, beer tent and food stations there was plenty to do during the down time. Over at the beer tent a large group of middle aged men accumulated  smoking, drinking, laughing, taking over the more shallow fan’s spaces, excitedly talking about the upcoming Smif N Wessun set.

Lights, music, cue: madness. Two songs into the the Smif N Wessun set the crowd had doubled in size. The duo nearly ran out of time spending the last 3 minutes commemorating the fallen par great. The audience sang along with every word, filling in the popular lines from Big L, Notorious B.I.G, Tupac, Old Dirty Bastard, and Nate Dogg making some people wonder why the band had chosen to skip on their own material for a 90s hip hop sample run.

Next up: Joey Bada$$. Young and Dundas Square was almost packed at this point. Merch and promo tents had packed up and moved out of the way to make room for the growing crowd and the increasing number of uniforms. Joey Bada$$’ louder than life set populated the downtown core spreading the bass across the city like civil war. Now no artist wants to be the bearer of the bad news especially when the bad news is telling the wired up crowd that Ludacris is not planning to get on stage any time soon quickly loosing bodies for the last few songs.

The main act was going to be an hour late. Fans were perplexed with what to do with themselves for the next hour, many left before Bada$$’ set was even finished, the rest took to their phones as if they came to this party alone. One, two, five minutes go by, a voice comes piercing through the square: “I Know all you were told I was going to be late, but I couldn’t let you down Toronto!”  Ludacris had somehow appeared on stage, ready to go, surprising everyone and drawing others back to the scene.

Needless to say, there couldn’t have been a better entrance for the night’s headliner, or maybe there could have – showing up on schedule is not an underrated quality. But all said and noted, Luda’s appearance was a highlight, if there was a roof, it would have been on fire.

See more NXNE concert photos here

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