OTM’s Guide To NXNE 2013 On A Budget

Well, hello there, music fan! Are you excited about NXNE this year? Hmm… Broke, you say? $60 too pricey? I hear ya — and so does my wallet.

Lucky for you, this ain’t CMW or Indie Week; it’s NXNE, the festival that embraces the cash-strapped and money-having music fans alike! Whether you’ve got a wristband and not much left to spare, or a fistful of dollars and a desire to soak up tunes, OTM’s pleased to offer you this handy guide to cheap music festival satisfaction.


Money-Saver Step #1:  Go through the Schedulizer NOW.

“But Amber, didn’t I just tell you I’m too broke to get a wristband?”  Sure you did.  But here’s the thing:  there are many options for NXNE, ranging from the sweetness of a Priority Pass (I rocked one of those last year so hard, I skipped convocation) to the one-day wristband to the option to buy into a single showcase.  So trust me:  go through the Schedulizer, listen to samples and star off the artists you dig.

Money-Saver Step #2:  Prioritize and look for groupings.

Alright, who do you REALLY want to see?  Who’s got you foaming at the mouth with glee?  Two great acts at the same time?  What venue seems to be calling you over and over?  We’re laying the foundations for your concrete strategy for NXNE with these intro steps.

Money-Saver Step #3:  Load up on the free shows.

Now, we get to the action plan.  First off, check out the goods at Yonge Dundas Square and St. James Gazebo.  They’re free, my lovelies!  Do not pay admission, do not fork over dollars.  Indulge all you want, and believe me, some of the absolute best of the fest are ready to blow your mind.  The Balconies?  Social Distortion?  We Are Scientists?  Blinker The Star?  Teenage Kicks?  The National (not my fave band, I admit, but many love them)?  Go wild, go often.  Some of my best fun last year was at YDS.  Bring a drink and snacks and you’ve got a free night or few on the town.

Money-Saver Step #4:  Consider a single-day wristband for a treat.

Look, if $60 is too much for you this year, how’s $30?  This is why we went through that Schedulizer and made priorities.  In particular, do you have a day off work that has a lot of tasty treats on the menu?  Drop $30 and go wild.  Hop venues, take in the sounds and binge on great music.

Money-Saver Step #5:  Buy in for a single showcase.

Again, that priority list is coming in handy.  Did you notice a great day at one particular venue while making your dream list?  Mine, for example, is Danforth Music Hall on Saturday (although I do wish Data Romance was on THAT bill as well).  Most showcases tend to cost ya $10-20 for a night at a venue.  Again, for one magical night, treat yourself for $10-20.

Money-Saver Step #6:  Keep an eye on NXNE for reduced wristbands.

There’s no guarantees, but last year, the full fest wristbands dropped in price come Friday night/Saturday…  If you’re too busy working during the week, you could score a reduced rate for a weekend blitz.  Keep those eyes peeled on Twitter (@nxne).

Money-Saver Step #7:  Pre-drink at home, bring snacks, etc.

True story:  the booze and food is what really kills the wallet, not the wristband.  It’s natural to want to chill with a beer or drink while listening to five hours of music.  Late-night munchies will strike.  Heat makes us thirsty (and NXNE 2012 was an oven at YDS).  Think smart, think ahead, and save.  Eat a proper meal at home.  Find time to swing home to eat on the weekend between freebie afternoons and nightly showcases.  Carry a water bottle.  Drink a few beers then saunter out to the bar, having only one or two when you get there.  Carry trail mix for emergency munchies.  You follow me?

This is especially practiced and critical for those of us with food allergies.  I’ve already stocked up on my gluten-free energy bars from Better Batter (to die for, people).  You don’t have to blow a bi-weekly grocery budget on NXNE.  They’ll understand, promise.

*Note:  most venues will likely frown on eating and drinking inside; I’ve gotten away with a bottle I swig between venues in past, but results may vary.*


White Rabbits, NXNE 2012

And there you have it:  ways to circumvent broke status and still soak up a hghlight of Toronto’s summer!  Have more tips?  Leave them in the comments below, and follow me on Twitter (@emptysthemepark) as I employ most of the strategies above as I intentionally rock a frugal-friendly NXNE 2013 to prove it can be done!

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