Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF): Day 1

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The second edition of the Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) commenced yesterday.  If Day 1 was any indication – you are in for an epic musical journey in the days ahead.  TURF will run until July 6, 2014 at Fort York Garrison Commons in downtown Toronto if you fancy a musical and gastronomic jaunt.

This year guests will be greeted with 3 stages and over the next two days will be sampling over 44 artists from Canada and all over the world.

If you are looking for a mini musical vacation – it’s time to pick up one of TURF’s affordably priced ticket packages.  You will be immersed with stunning music and enough yummy foodie and drink options to keep you satiated and giddy.

We started our July 4th journey sampling the likes of the Born Ruffians.   A Canadian indie rock band from Midland, Ontario. Their sound was not only Vampire Weekend like in intent but had all the makings of a sound with longevity without the hipster drama.  The sun was at its peak when these boys hit the stage and it was clear they were struggling with comments like, ‘If I die up here from the heat, you can use my organs for hydration’.   Baking skin – oof.

We were sure to walk around the TURF venue space after the Born Ruffians set for some hydration.  TURF keeps the food truck and beer tents simple.  The food options from a Portobello Mushroom Burger shack, Waffle shop, Greek eats and an independent coffee station will take care of you.  Next stop Gary Clark Jr..

Gary Clark, Jr. opened for Kings of Leon earlier this year and that was any indication – his popularity is steadily growing.  It’s time to start paying attention.  Gary Clark, Jr. is an U.S. Grammy-winning guitarist and actor based in Austin, Texas and naughtily described as being the future of Texas blues.   There are also dollops of jazz, soul and hip hop in his fabric.   Clark barely said much through his over hour long set.  Instead he injected his musical trademark of fuzzy Eric Clapton like guitar sound meets Black Keys raucous hearing shattering rock portraits into our overheating ears drums.  Gary Clark, Jr. was truly the crème brulee of the day.

We lounged and had a bit of dinner whilst watching Local Natives.   It was clear that TURF Day 1 was turning out to be a reflective and calming experience.  Indeed a rock and roots festival but without the hipster attitude.   Instead it was brimming with peace, love and happiness.

Beirut closed TURF Day 1 with a deeply emotional, inspirational and magical set.  Now if all shows can be like this?  They have set the bar high for shows moving forward.  Choirs of angels and an assault of full on romance began to seep into the audience.

Beirut fuses elements of indie-rock and world music into their web.  Lead singer Zach Condon was in rare form last night.  Charming the audience with various quips whilst dropping a lil French and Spanish here and there between songs.  Performing songs from the albums ‘Gulag Orkestar’ and ‘The Flying Club Cup’ kept the audience enraptured.  “Nantes” and “Sunday Smile” got the heaving audience keen and dance worthy.  How could you not want to waltz, shake it and bump up against your partner when taking in the spectacle of Zach and crew implanting brass heavy tunes with a dash of accordion for good measure into our souls?  Beauty.

There were moments where the audience was transplanted into a Mariachi experience in Mexico and the next moment a Second Line parade in New Orleans.  Visions of times gone by were flooding our eyes and hearts.

Beirut’s sound is transformational.  If you aren’t instantly inspired to create art or live lighter – you weren’t paying close enough attention.

Stay tuned for my TURF Day 2 and Day 3 features to follow in the days ahead.

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