X Avant Is Pushing Forward a New Era of Music Festivals

In an unpredictable era in Ontario’s cultural history, when the province has become a graveyard of major music festivals, the Music Gallery’s new music exposition and festival, X Avant, has shone steadily and bright.

Now in its fourteenth year, the festival has built its reputation on curating innovative and forward-thinking artists including Sunn O))), Jens Lenkman, Tyondai Braxton, and the Microphones, in a space that invites exploration and interrogation.

This year, the festival has selected the theme “Forward” — inspired by the slogan “Forward Ever, Backward Never” used during the Grenadian revolution in 1979 — and invites its artists to reimagine growth by “taking, or attempting to take, the next step in their work, career or practice.”

2019’s acclaimed headliners include composer Germaine Liu, multidisciplinary artist Lido Pimienta, reggae legend Willi Williams, electronic artist New Chance, and percussionist Sarah Hennies, premiering new work at the festival. From Liu pulling apart an existing project and recontextualizing her expansive Still Life composition with musicians from the improvisational scene, to Pimienta giving audiences an intimate look into the raw cuts of her new album, Miss Columbia, the festival promises to urge audiences to shift their expectations forward.

Dani Murillo