Events

Sean Leon at NXNE
Events

Cannabis Producer Aurora Was A Game-Changer At NXNE Music Festival

Partnerships between the arts and cannabis are heating up in Canada. The partnership between Aurora and NXNE is the perfect example of how it’s done.

Jun 28, 2018 - Zack Fenech

Toronto Artist Sean Leon getting close to the crowd during his Sunday evening set at NXNE. (Photo by Jonathan Coward)

Sean Leon at NXNE

Toronto Artist Sean Leon getting close to the crowd during his Sunday evening set at NXNE. (Photo by Jonathan Coward)

For the first time in 23 years, Toronto-based festival NXNE (North by Northeast) included the cannabis community last week. Aurora, whose recent merge with MedReleaf made them the largest licensed distributor of cannabis in the world, extended its outreach to the arts and culture community through its official sponsorship of the beloved festival.

Though the decision was undoubtedly beneficial for Aurora, it proved to be equally important for the revitalization of NXNE itself, which has suffered over the last two years due to unexplained location changes, poor marketing initiatives, and overall shoddy planning. This year, Aurora oversaw the execution of the festival, restoring it to its original location, Yonge-Dundas Square, where its taken place since its inception in 1995.

Cannabis Producer Aurora Revitalizes Iconic Toronto Music Festival North By Northeast This Is How California Is Destroying $350 Million Worth Of Weed
Photo by Jonathan Coward

The location return brought back the familiar feelings associated with the nine-day event, like the sound of impatient traffic drowned out by blaring music, a populated square full of eager fans, and the subtle hints of pot in the air. The revitalization also brought back the sense of community to NXNE, which showed how little has changed despite the planning hiccups of previous years.

Over the span of the festival, venues in different pockets of the downtown area opened their doors to host music, food, art, comedy, and cannabis-focused events, in addition to the free public concert that always happens on the final weekend of NXNE.

Cannabis Producer Aurora Revitalizes Iconic Toronto Music Festival North By Northeast Jazz This Is How California Is Destroying $350 Million Worth Of Weed
Toronto artist Jazz Cartier performing during his headlining set on Friday night at NXNE. (Photo by Jonathan Coward)

Friday evening kicked off the festival’s ending with an eclectic mix of international artists and local talent alike. Toronto-based U.S. Girls dazzled audiences with their artistic pop before an energetic performance by Azealia Banks. Toronto’s own Jazz Cartier, who headlined NXNE that evening, managed to maintain the energy, keeping expectations high for the two remaining days.

Saturday’s line-up revealed the poppier and sweeter side of NXNE, with Glaswegian headlining-act Chvrches closing the evening in front of a jam-packed square. The supporting acts featured Toronto-based songstress Lights and English pop-rapper Yungblud.

Cannabis Producer Aurora Revitalizes Iconic Toronto Music Festival North By Northeast Lights This Is How California Is Destroying $350 Million Worth Of Weed
Canadian artist Lights performing during Saturday night at NXNE (Photo by Jonathan Coward)

A notable feature of NXNE is that the fest never seems to lose momentum. It proved true on the final Sunday. The event carried the same stamina as the previous two days, making for a memorable finale. 

Robert Delong’s NXNE performance paved the way for the acts which closed up the dewy Sunday evening. Big Freedia, who was scheduled to follow, was late due to complications at the border. The holdup prompted NXNE headliner, Tinashe, to perform in her place. Tinashe’s soulful vocals were luxurious spread over lively beats that absorbed the audience.

Cannabis Producer Aurora Revitalizes Iconic Toronto Music Festival North By Northeast Tinashe This Is How California Is Destroying $350 Million Worth Of Weed
Festival headliner Tinashe performing on Sunday night. (Photo by Jonathan Coward)

Big Freedia finally made her way to the stage, bringing the taste of New Orleans’ Bounce Music with her. The subgenre of hip-hop, cultivated in her hometown of Louisiana, proved to be an energetic close to yet another weekend added to a canon of successful NXNE weekends.


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