Last year’s anniversary edition of Arts & Crafts ‘Field Trip’ was all the rage. If you weren’t there – you missed out on a historic day at a Historic Landmark at Fort York. Sucks to be you. This summer, Arts & Crafts, had a lot to live up to as they moved up from a one day fest to a 2 day weekend effort. Did they deliver? Let me fill you in.
We love Fort York. It’s a perfectly accessible Toronto location for a festival; it’s on the TTC line and has enough room to watch bands at each stage. Now come 5 p.m., its gets a tad congested. The throngs of people navigating between the Garrison Stage (the larger one) to the Fort York Stage (the smaller one) always ends in a bottle neck on the path connecting both stages. That said this year; the Fort York Stage was built a little further along to allow for a VIP drinking lounge area and a massive food, shopping and activities area. Even though there were line ups for food, washrooms and drink – everything ran smoothly as the rain steadily fell on the Sunday afternoon crowd.
There were a number of upgrades from last year’s ‘Field Trip’. The neat family friendly area for kids and their peeps was immense. People could take a break and shake their booties at the Hula Hoop Station, have a jump at the Bouncy Bear and design a Chinese Lantern for kicks. ‘Field Trip’ is always very chill and accommodating for arts, crafts and just doing nothing at all for the wee types to us mature folk. But we missed the free Frutare popsicles from last summer Arts & Crafts!
This year it felt like the attendance was not as a robust. Hmmmm….was it maybe too much of a good thing last summer? Last summer the Garrison Stage was packed to the rafters by the time Bloc Party played mid afternoon. There was no getting in and out to check out the Fort York Stage and the likes of Dan Mangan. This summer it felt a lot less populated.
That said, the concert goers in attendance were having a grand time. Eating, drinking, watching bands, relaxing, people watching – for a bit of a rainy weekend, people were down for a good chin wag and bop around.
A Tribe Called Red brought down the house on Saturday night as the sun began to set. It felt like we were at a smaller version of a Skrillex fete without all the obnoxious kids. A Tribe Called Red are a Canadian electronic music group, who blend instrumental hip hop, reggae, moombahton and dubstep-influenced dance music with elements of First Nations music, particularly vocal chanting and drumming. Their sound can be described as “powwow-step”, a style of contemporary powwow music for urban First Nations in the dance club scene. They get my MVP award of ‘Field Trip’ this year.
The Constantines celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their acclaimed album Shine A Light, with a full on kick in the mouth stomp. There may not have been a lot of chatter between band and audience but they were humbly appreciative of the audience’s embrace. These Guelph boys know what we like. As we travelled to the next stage after their set, we observed a fan speaking enthusiastically to Bry Webb and Webb clearly dead chuffed chirping, ‘You are wearing one of my favourite t-shirts of ours. Thank you.’.
Chvrches and Interpol were in top form as well. Chvrches’, Lauren Mayberry, charmed the audience with her knowledge of Canadian bands and a cheeky hint at an Alanis Morisette karaoke. Chvrches, Scottish brand of electro-synth or as I call it, ‘John Hughes meets Max Headroom tunes’ brought a whole lot of happiness as they warmed the Garrison Stage up for Broken Social Scene.
When Broken Social Scene took the stage, the audience was heaving and ready. It felt like we had just seen them but hadn’t. Last summer’s comment from the band ‘We may never perform again for a long time after this’ was long forgotten.
The family affair of Broken Social Scene is always a blast to breathe in. From its revolving door of characters, hits that conjure emotional moments between friends and lovers and inspiring words to politically charged fighting drawls from Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning – it is always a good laugh and feel good time. We spotted Olivia Chow being chatted up by Arts & Crafts Co-Owner, Jeffrey Remedios just before BSS’s set. Hmmm….
Other highlights consisted of Gord Downie and then Andy Kim singing a duet of the ‘Sweetest Kill’ with Kevin Drew. Catching Amy Millan, Feist and Lisa Lobsinger as they added that female je ne sais quoi to the boys club that at times is BSS – made us forget our troubles until the 10 p.m. curfew.
Fort York is a wonderful home for ‘Field Trip’ and we hope it continues to be. The rustic Canadiana vibe, locals meeting out of towners and familiar soothing tunes as it christens us into summer’s arms is a big hit! The detail, love and camaraderie that goes into putting on ‘Field Trip’ from the Arts & Crafts crew always makes us look forward to next year just as Kevin Drew says ‘good night’. That’s always a good sign.