What to do on the final day of the festival? Chill on a hill with folkie Donovan Woods, and then lose your shit one last time with Raekwon and Ghostface Killah.
Donovan Woods (Trinity Bellwoods Park, 3 p.m.): Stretched out on a calm, grassy hill, a possibly hung-over twenty-something turned to her friend and said, “I don’t have any enthusiasm—it’s Sunday.” It was perhaps the perfect characterization of the final day of NXNE: seemingly partied-out, about a hundred people gathered in Trinity Bellwoods Park for an unplugged afternoon session. Following opener The Fabulous Yawn, folk singer-songwriter Donovan Woods took the “stage” (an arbitrarily chosen patch of grass at the bottom of the hill). Worried if the crowd could hear him, he prefaced his set by asking if the performance would even work. It did; Wood’s sincere tunes were just tranquil enough for the audience to enjoy after what was likely a wild and late night—whether it was spent with The Flaming Lips or any of the other acts that graced the city’s venues on Saturday. Or, on the other hand, perhaps for some Wood’s soft serenades were a strange musical equivalent of a pre-drink for Raekwon and Ghostface Killah.—Luc Rinaldi
Raekwon and Ghostface Killah (Yonge-Dundas Square, 9:30 p.m.): On a bill packed with current hip-hop talent—including Action Bronson and the phenomenal Killer Mike—it took two of the godfathers of modern rap to truly bring tha ruckus. While Ghostface Killah and Raekwon didn’t treat the 8,000-strong audience to a full-album rendition of Rae’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (which they toured, but not to the T-dot, last year), they frequently dipped into the Wu-Tang Clan’s seminal album Enter the Wu. Snippets of “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” and “The Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit” were fleshed out with an audience-participation rendition of “Protect Ya Neck”—dudes from the crowd rapped Method Man and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s respective verses. The duo made a point of acknowledging their progeny, with Toronto’s own JD Era (who’s signed to Rae’s local label, Ice H20) coming out for a few jams and even ODB’s son (Young Dirty Bastard?) performing a microphone-impaired verse from “Shimmy Shimmy Ya.” The stop-and-start nature of the show was sometimes jarring, but totally worth it for the opportunity to see Ghost deliver his James Joyce stream-of-consciousness rhymes in the flesh on tracks like “Be Easy” and “Verbal Intercourse.” Twenty years into their careers, Rae and Ghost sound as vital as ever—or, to paraphrase the Wu, they’ve still got darts to throw.—Chris Bilton