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Riot Fest & Expo Toronto (Sept 7, 2014) – Day 2 Review

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The sun greeted us with a friendly ‘get ready to get burned’ grin as we entered Downsview Park on Day 2 of Riot Fest & Expo Toronto.  Nothing like a sinister hello to get our backs up in a true punk rock stance.

The first stop of the day was with Bob Mould at the Riot Stage.  The Riot Fest schedule had changed a tad overnight so things were a tad a flutter.  Regardless, when Bob Mould bounded onto the stage there was a rumbling of Husker Du and Sugar residue that flooded the audience.  Indeed a teenage hero clean of rock star guitar riffs instead replaced with earnest intent and humility.   That’s what Bob Mould is all about.  ‘A Good Idea’ would have been a gift but instead we were served some Husker Du classics like ‘I Apologize’ and ‘Makes No Sense At All’ which were just as decadent.

Our skin roasting we headed over to the VIP tent to wait for The New Pornographers.  How can you not adore a super band calling Neko Case, Dan Bejar and John Collins from Destroyer members?  An upbeat set with a cool Vancouver breeze to wash over our charring skin with songs like ‘Brill Bruisers’ and ‘Mass Romantic’ kept our electrolytes up.

Carrying on there was a short walk over a hill and a muddy patch to take in Die Antwoord’s set at the Rock Stage which was heavily anticipated.  If the crowd of kids was any indication things were about to go ‘mental’.  And they did.  Body surfing, topless girls falling over as leering boys took in eye full’s.

Die Antwoord’s lyrics would put make NWA proud.  Full of swagger by way of South African ‘zef’ and yet a sense of a strong professional work ethic stood out.  Their star has been steadily rising with beats and catchy crowd bursting shout outs.  If you didn’t pull out your phone to set a reminder to download their stuff as soon as you can – you have issues. ‘Fatty Boom Boom’ and ‘Fink U Freeky’ cemented their game changing status.

Death Cab for Cutie drew a larger crowd and was sure to make each person swoon with ditties that resembled high school love poems gone awry.  ‘Long Division’ and ‘Cath’ lead the now cooling down crowd into a sing-along possibly only heard in shower stalls.  Zooey Deschannel must have some stories.

By the time The National arrived our knees were buckling from heat exhaustion.  But in true rousing form Matt Berninger and the Dessner and Devendorf brothers gave us a show that instantly killed whatever symptoms were attacking our minds and bodies.  ‘I Should Live in Salt’, ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, ‘This is the Last Time’ and ‘England’ offered the clearly fan heavy crowd a nice smorgasbord of tasty treats but also new fans a tasting menu worthy of buying into.  As the sun began to set in the background you couldn’t help but feel emotional reflecting on the lyrics spiralling around you and possibly feeling tears of love, loss, desire and new horizons begin to stain your cheeks.

I opted to end the evening on a high note with the Buzzcocks.  Indeed Metric and City and Colour being Toronto’s hometown heroes would have satiated my thirst but Buzzcocks being from Manchester and having a true punk rock history which fits into Riot Fest’s aesthetic was an important happy ending.

True rock pioneers, the Buzzcocks were an important influence on the Manchester music scene.  They achieved commercial success with singles that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy. These singles were collected on ‘Singles Going Steady’, described by critic Ned Raggett as a “punk masterpiece”.  Get it!

Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle were in fine form.  Full of exuberance and pure punk rock joy that only some of the last left punk rockers truly know to infuse into their stage presence. The Clash, The Sex Pistols would be humbled by ‘Harmony in my Head’ and ‘Orgasm Addict’.  If you think Billy Talent won outstanding achievement at Riot Fest this summer – clearly you are not paying close attention to what Riot Fest’s true mantra is all about.

If Riot Fest & Expo Toronto prepares to keep up the momentum with fantastic music scheduling, a keen attention to detail, large scale festival organization and keeping their Canadian fans happy we will be destined for even more outstanding summers with our American counterparts in punk rock for years to come.




Riot Fest & Expo Toronto (Sept 6, 2014) – Day 1 Review

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The last time I was up at Downsview Park it was 1984 and it was to see Pope John Paul II.  All I remember was my dad making my sisters and I trudge through the mud to get there.  The day was spiritually and life changing albeit a tad wet.

Toronto received a lot of rain on the evening of Friday Sept 5th thus making us wonder – what will the state of Downsview Park be for Riot Fest & Expo Toronto?  Will I be trudging through the mud again decades later in wellies?  Indeed.

Upon arriving to the park, I observed the line ups to be quite long just to get into Downsview Park but the mood was high for Riot Fest & Expo Toronto.  In the sea of ‘Billy Talent’ t-shirt wearers, ripped nylons and people giddy about finally seeing The Cure – the day was well on its way.

We were greeted by a wrestling ring with lookalike WWF wrestlers in full regalia getting it on.  The activity really added a crispy flavour to the carnival ambiance at Riot Fest & Expo Toronto.  Besides the wrestling ring and the ominous food stands they were the only signs of what make carnival dreams glossy.

This year four stages greeted us at Riot Fest & Expo Toronto.  But there was no signage to direct people which direction they should be going to catch their respective bands.  A posted schedule with a map at different locations would have been helpful for the folk who didn’t have access to the Riot Fest & Expo Toronto app.

The Roots and Riot Stage although side by side were a neat idea.  But came to be a bottleneck as people travelled between stages.  There was a VIP tent in the middle which required another dilemma in navigating the space.  A thought, next year to move the food vendor stations to allow more lounge room in the back, remove the VIP in the middle  so the standing crowd can mill about easily between the stages.

Clearly, Riot Fest & Expo Toronto has grown since last year’s Fort York location in downtown Toronto.  Downsview Park is a palatial and a roomy estate in comparison.  With that come logistical pieces that can indeed be ironed out for next year to appease the ‘grumbling crowd’ who had to travel north of Toronto to catch a festival.  First world problems mates.

The musical highlights of Day 1

The Afghan Whigs were in fine form for their early afternoon spot.  They were not only extremely confident but were having a great time collectively on stage.  Under the raucous tracks ‘Parked Outside’, ‘Fountain and Fairfax’ ad ‘Debonair’ lays a lot of darkness.  But was delivered in such a way that would do Buckley’s cough medicine proud.

The ‘Modfather’ Paul Weller christened the crowd with a set that would make an old school mod teary. If you weren’t shaking your tail feather to ‘Wake Up The Nation’ and ‘You Do Something To Me’ – clearly you weren’t letting yourself go in the moment.

Death From Above 1979 are one of those bands if you miss them indeed your hearing may thank you but your heart will never experience such excitement again.  True Toronto natives at heart they were quick to poke fun at the crowd by saying ‘I bet most of you are from Barrie’.  Cheeky.  (For my International readers:  Barrie is a small town just north of Toronto which hipsters from Toronto would derive joy in picking on).   Death From Above 1979’s rambunctious set was fit for kindergarten kids in a fit of a tantrum at a grocery store.  ‘Blood On Our Hands’ proved to be a chest pumping memorable performance.

The Flaming Lips set was what a grand magical fable coming to life is made up of.  Pop up. Acid like.  Who need’s Las Vegas?  One can walk around The Flaming Lips performances punctuated in a dreamscape with dollops of fluorescent lollipop colours, Beatles serenades and textured layers that will now be housed in your subconscious for moment’s when you need to ‘check out’ out of the daily grind.  ‘Race for the Prize’ mesmerized my fellow audience members like a good trance should do Jim Jones style.

The Cure are athletes and delivered an over two hour set to the crowd that was well worth the price of the Riot Fest & Expo Toronto ticket just in itself.  It was robust in classics and new tracks.  Nicely mixed together in a stew reminiscent of ‘Disintegration’ days.  Dance heavy.  Sombre driven melodies.  Themes that The Cure is known for and continues to flourish in with some obvious maturing enhancements.  Closing with ‘Close To Me’, ‘Why Can’t I Be You?’ and ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ would satiate any fan.

Overall, a visually and musically decadent day at Riot Fest.   Looking forward to seeing what Day 2 at Riot Fest & Expo Toronto brings.  Happy Sunday everyone!  Don’t forget to wear your wellies!  Bloody Toronto rain.




Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Band Spotlight: Bob Mould and The Cure

Riot Fest & Expo Toronto is now just under two weeks away.  Can you believe we are almost there?  The summer is almost done and we are heading into the Fall.  What better way to celebrate with Riot Fest & Expo Toronto?

We only have one more installment of the Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Band Spotlight.  So make sure you are getting your band research time in to be ready for September 6th and 7th at Downsview Park.

Let’s start!

Thirty Four Flavour’s ‘Sweet Pick’

Bob Mould

Bob Mould is an early ’80s pioneer of electronic, rock modes, to the deafening pop sparkle which he beautifully showcased in his work with band outfits Hüsker Dü and then Sugar.  If you see anything at Riot Fest that maybe out of your comfort zone – Bob Mould should be it.

Bob Mould was instrumental in Hüsker Dü’s formation in 1979.  Their hard-core anthems, tight, melodic, hard-pop chestnuts, and sprawling double-vinyl conceptual opuses was churned out in equal measure up to its dramatic 1987 flameout.

Bob’s solo works ranging from his landmark 1989 debut Workbook to Black Sheets of Rain (1990), Body of Song (2005), District Line (2008), and Life and Times (2009); his forays into electronic music, including 2002’s Modulate and his Blowoff collaboration with Richard Morel; and the reissuing of Sugar’s 1992 debut ‘Copper Blue’ which Bob and his band have been playing front to back at recent live shows.

I encourage you to pick up ‘Copper Blue’ the next time you are perusing iTunes or are in a music store.  It is a classic piece of music that stands the test of time and will also thoroughly blow your mind.

The Cure

We saw The Cure last summer at Lollapalooza in Chicago. It was magical and probably the most emotional we have been sharing a musical moment with a few thousand friends. Looking up at Robert Smith sing ‘Pictures of You’ and ‘The Forest’ into the sparkling evening Chicago skyline was decadence and was worth the price of our Lollapalooza weekend and more.

The Cure at Lollapalooza in Chicago (2013)

The Cure at Lollapalooza in Chicago (2013)

When we heard The Cure was headlining Riot Fest Toronto we felt that same emotional reaction come up to the surface. If you feel like The Cure has touched you as you walk to school, drive to work, work out at the gym or dance at your local club – you have no idea what you are in for from Robert Smith and his mates come Sept 6th at Downsview Park. We can’t wait to share the moment with you.

See you next week for my last edition of the Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Band Spotlight!  Buy your tickets soon before they are gone!

Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Ticket Links:




Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Band Spotlight: Thurston Moore and The Beaches

As I mentioned last week, Riot Fest & Expo Toronto is a month away and I really want you to go.  Keep your eyes peeled in a week’s time as I will be giving away weekend tickets to Riot Fest & Expo Toronto.  All you will need to do is sign up to Thirty Four Flavours Facebook, Twitter or email subscription to enter the draw.

Also, for the next few weeks leading up to Riot Fest & Expo Toronto I will be introducing you to some of the bands on their festival roster.  This week’s band highlights a veteran of the NYC punk scene and some local female Toronto rockers.

Thurston Moore

When I heard that Sonic Youth’s grand poppy would be at Riot Fest Toronto this year I felt a bit giddy.  How could I not be?  Bringing his style of NYC art/punk rock to our fair city – Thurston Moore will be sure to educate us.  His first solo album, Psychic Hearts (recorded during and immediately after his wife and Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon’s pregnancy in 1994), with ex-Half Japanese guitarist Tim Foljahn and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, had an appropriately offhand feel but was far from sloppy. Following Moore’s separation from lifelong bandmate, wife, and partner Kim Gordon in late 2011, Sonic Youth’s future became incredibly uncertain and put on indefinite pause. The year 2013 saw the release of @, a collaborative album of sax/guitar improvisations with fellow N.Y.C. fringe dweller John Zorn.  Let’s see what he has up his sleeve for us as we lounge under the sun at Downsview Park come September.

The Beaches

Remember L7 from the 90’s? This all-female, indie rock band from The Beaches (area of Toronto) will be sure to dazzle you at Riot Fest & Expo Toronto as they rock us hard with some of L7’s essence . Ranging from sixteen to eighteen years old these girls have a lot to prove and are having fun doing it.

Their Toronto centric aesthetic with dollops of pop doused into their tunes will keep you grooving.  These girls are indeed the real deal and keep things clean rooted in punk rock.

Till next week for my next installment of the Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Band Spotlight plus TICKET GIVEAWAY INFO!  😉

Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Ticket Links:




Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Band Spotlight & Ticket GIVEAWAY: Seaway and The Flaming Lips

Riot Fest & Expo Toronto is nearly a month away – excited?  I am!  Have you seen the line up yet?  Voila!

Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Line-up

September 6:

The Cure * Billy Talent * Rise Against * The Flaming Lips * Death from Above 1979 * Brand New * Paul Weller * AWOLNATION * Bring Me the Horizon * Taking Back Sunday * The Afghan Whigs * Alkaline Trio * Glassjaw * New Found Glory * Circa Survive * Manchester Orchestra * Title Fight * Bad Suns * Citizen * Mounties * Pentimento * Broncho * Laura Stevenson * The Beaches * Somos * The Bots * Little Big League

September 7:

City and Colour * Metric * The National * Social Distortion * Death Cab for Cutie * Stars * The Head and the Heart * Dropkick Murphys * Die Antwoord * Tokyo Police Club * The New Pornographers * Thurston Moore * Buzzcocks * Bob Mould * Clutch * Lucero * Lemuria * PUP * Nostalghia * Radkey * Rubblebucket * The Hotelier * Restorations * Say Yes * Seaway * Wounds

For the next few weeks leading up to Riot Fest & Expo Toronto I will be introducing you to some of the bands on their festival roster.  This week’s bands to conduct some music research on are a local outfit and an Indie heavy weight.


Seaway is a pop-punk band of 5 friends from Oakville, ON Canada. They play music influenced by the likes of  Blink-182, Sum-41 and New Found Glory but without the bubble gum popping in the background.   I’m usually not keen on the above mentioned bands but I like that these guys are rocking the plaid with some authentic pop-punk edge.  I’m sure the skate kids at the mall are buzzing off their sound and so should you.  What better way to give props to some Canadian talent by supporting them at Riot Fest?

The Flaming Lips

On the flip side, The Flaming Lips are indie giants from Oklahoma City.

The Lips are best known for their association with 1960s and 1970s psychedelic subculture framed within an edgier and easily digestible 2014 indie pop aesthetic.

If you are looking for a band that thrives on being a spectacle ‘The Flaming Lips’ are it!  You could be paying big money to see them live on their own.  Why not save some bucks and see them as part of a package deal at Riot Fest & Expo Toronto?

Their past elaborate live shows featured costumes, balloons, puppets, video projections, complex stage light configurations, giant hands, large amounts of confetti and frontman Wayne Coyne’s signature man-sized plastic bubble.

Have I peeked your interest?  If so, keep your eyes peeled.  I will have a Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Ticket Giveaway later in the month of August.

If you can’t wait because let’s be serious with this line up, Riot Fest & Expo Toronto will sell out.  Check out the ticket links below.

Till next week for my next installment of the Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Band Spotlight!  😉

Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Ticket Links:




Concert Review: I Lost My Hearing at Riot Fest Toronto

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Well I can’t put all the blame on Riot Fest but I have been chiselling away at my hearing since I was a teen with a mission for punk rock.

On one of the last weekends of the summer, it was made even sweeter with the American folks from Riot Fest bringing their music and Travelling Exposition to our humble town from August 24th and August 25th.

Two day passes quickly sold out and they had reason to:  Mayday Parade, A Day To Remember, Best Coast, Rocket from the Crypt, Iggy and the Stooges and The Replacements were to be in attendance.  There were single day tickets still available to Sunday’s show which also disappeared in no time – no surprise there.

We arrived to RF a shave after 3 p.m. on the Sunday.  A gorgeous afternoon – it was sunny, a bit of a breeze and the energy was high.  The attendees were an interesting mix of old school punk rockers, some families with teens, 30 something’s and folks that came from out of town to bear witness to some afternoon delight.

What I appreciated immediately was that there was a lot of room to mill about the venue.  Fort York is truly a historic space to hold a music festival – it’s full of trees, picnic tables near the gathered food tracks, some stands to buy t-shirts, free water fill up stations and even a phone charging station.

We caught glimpses of Deadmau5, Kevin Drew from Broken Social and members of Sum 41 about.  A low key punk rock festival affair with dashes of glittering Canadian pride.

Best Coast from L.A. consisting of Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno shined their lo-fi surf pop tunes into the crowd.  There may not have been a lot of folks in attendance but nevertheless there was swooning and bopping to tunes like ‘The Only Place’, ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘When I’m With You’.  It was magical seeing this band live – I felt emotional.  Listening to tunes crafted in sunny climes that hang over our upcoming cold and chilly Fall is definitely a moment I plan to linger upon in the months ahead.

Dinosaur Jr. from Amherst, MA took a hold of our hearing in one seagull swoop right after Best Coast.  Looking a lot older then from my late uni days; then again so am I.  J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Murph assaulted us (in the nicest Canadian way) to tunes like ‘Fell The Pain’, ‘Just Like Heaven’, ‘Freak Scene’ and Sludgefeast’.  Listening to ‘Just Like Heaven’ a raucous version of The Cure’s classic was like being hit in the head with a sledgehammer.  I guess that was the intent.  J with his long grey locks barely said much between songs leaving Lou to sneakily say ‘Goodbye photographers!  Go take pictures of someone else now.’  To be in their presence after 20 years was decadence.

Rocket from the Crypt followed.  Lead singer Speedo ran through a litany of cheeky comments to keep the crowd giggly and testosterone pumped as they jammed furiously together to ‘I Know’, ‘Born in ‘69’ and ‘Young Livers’.  Petey X and ND conjured skateboarding memories with bad boys from high school.

We quickly moved from our blanketed spot under a tree to gather around impatiently for the grandfather of the New York punk rock scene.  Again the crowd was all very polite and chilled.  That is until Iggy came on stage with Mike Watt and the boys.  Mayhem.  A funnel cloud of dirt rose from a mosh pit that had formed as Iggy pranced, body rocked, body slammed, stage dived, strutted and sexed up the crowd.  Aged but still gorgeous as ever.  The surfer golden blonde hair straightened just so, bare chested, skinny black denim jeans with a studded belt.  At 67 this man would still get it as he hollered at a ‘pretty Indian girl’ stood in the front of the stage.  Or was that me?  😉

‘Raw Power’, ‘Gimme Danger’,  ‘Gun’, ‘1970’, ‘Search and Destroy’, ‘Fun House’, ‘Beyond the Law’, ‘Johanna’, ‘Ready to Die’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, ‘No Fun’, ‘The Passenger’, ‘I Got it Right’, ‘Cock in my Pocket’, ‘Your Pretty Face is Going To Hell’ and the latest ‘Sex & Money’ were religion to us.  I saw grown men crying.  At one point Iggy invited a gaggle of concert goers onto the stage to slam and dance along with the Stooges.  As I looked around people were brimming with happiness while others had an ‘I wanna be up there’ look on their faces.

As Iggy and the Stooges exited the stage he paused on the stairwell with the help of a roadie.  With a towel wrapped around his wiry frame, he blew us a kiss.  In that moment, I knew that I would never see him again and I was christened a punk rocker for life.

Lastly, we ended with The Replacements from Minneapolis, MN.   I had a major crush on Paul Westerberg as a teen.  Well dude was dating Winona Ryder, if she thought he was dreamy why was I chasing Keanu Reeves.  All prepubescent girliness aside – people were a blazing and were ready for full on pint sing-along.  Mr. Westerberg in rare form had forgotten the words to some songs with his brassiness in check.  Eugene always the wing man chimed in from time to time poking fun at the audience and J. Mascis who had appeared in the wings to watch them perform.  ‘J. Mascis, I was looking for you all day; you fucker’, Eugene squealed.  Ah boys.

We were taken back 22 years ago in that moment when these guys shut shop and we packed up our tape decks and started to age into ‘adult jobs’.

‘Takin a Ride’, ‘I’m in Trouble’, ‘Favorite Thing’, ‘Hangin Downtown’, ‘Color Me Impressed’, ‘Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out, ‘Kiss Me on the Bus’, ‘Androgynous’, ‘Achin’ to Be’, ‘I Will Dare’, ‘Love You Till Friday’, ‘Maybellene’, ‘Merry Go Round’, ‘Wake Up’, ‘Borstal Breakout’, ‘Little Mascara’, ‘Left of the Dial’, ‘Alex Chilton’, ‘Swingin Party’, ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’, ‘Bastards of Young’, ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ and ‘I.O.U.’ gave us all something to remember.  Indeed times have passed us by as we watched these aged rockers from our youth but we have amazing moments to look forward to with this renewed soundtrack injected back into our lives.

Riot Fest did a tremendous job with their online media campaign to get people out.  I hearted reading cheeky comments by whoever man’s their Twitter and Facebook pages.  Talk about a buzz.  These people are the real deal, professional and extremely good to their fans.  I felt the love and I saw it emanating from other concert goers.  We were nicely taken care of.

Chicago and Denver you are next.  Get ready for some freshly baked punk rock goodness.


Riot Fest Travelling Exposition In Toronto August 24-25th 2013 at Fort York

Riot Fest Toronto Line Up

Riot Fest Toronto Line Up

When I was a teen and falling in love with The Clash I would have paid big money and most importantly found a way to get to a festival that featured punk rock bands.  The only thing that came close at the time was Lollapalooza when it travelled to North American cities in the 90’s.

Hello to present day!  I’m no longer a teen but I’m very excited to check out Riot Fest for its second year in Toronto this summer.

This year’s line-up features The Replacements, Iggy & the Stooges, A Day To Remember, Pierce the Veil, Every Time I Die, Rocket from the Crypt, Dinosaur Jr, Best Coast, Mayday Parade, Grade, The Ghost Inside, Structures, Real Friends, The Flatliners and Single Mothers.

There are certain bands that you need to see in your life time and let’s face it; none of us are getting any younger.  Bands that have been on my bucket list for a while are The Replacements, Iggy & the Stooges, Rocket from the Crypt, Dinosaur Jr and Best Coast.  For the affordable price of a weekend ticket I am getting so much value for my hard earned money.

Riot Fest Toronto Map

Riot Fest Toronto Map

Plus if you haven’t seen a show at Fort York yet this summer – you need to get on that.  Built in 1793, Fort York National Historic Site is the birthplace of urban Toronto. It is best known as the location where the Battle of York came to its violent climax in 1813 during the War of 1812. The Fort served as the city’s primary harbour defence between the 1790s and the 1880s, and was the home of a military garrison until the 1930s.  The perfect space and atmosphere for some head pounding, yummy eats and pints.

With Aug 24 – 25th 2013 weekend being the second last weekend before the end of the summer – treat yourself to some rock out fun at Riot Fest.

To my loyal and new readers I am giving away 2-Day passes to the August 24-25th Riot Fest Toronto dates.  All you need to do is sign up to my blog before July 29th, 2013.  If you have already subscribed to my blog, consider yourself already entered.   I will pick a random name from my subscriber list and get you on Riot Fest’s stellar Will Call list.  Thank you Riot Fest!

For those who want to get in on the fun early – I encourage you to please buy your tickets fast!  With this line up – tickets will fly!  😉

Saturday, August 24th Tickets


Sunday, August 25th Tickets


Weekend (2-Day Ticket)