Tag Archives: toronto music festivals

Ibeyi at NXNE 2015

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Ibeyi is a French-Cuban musical duo consisting of twin sisters, Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz. The duo sings in English and Yoruba, — a Nigerian language their ancestors spoke before being brought to Cuba by the Spanish to be made slaves in the 1700s — though Lisa’s is the lead voice. Naomi plays traditional Cuban percussion instruments cajón and Batá drum, while Lisa also plays piano.

Ibeyi is pronounced ee-bey-ee. In the Yoruba language this translates as “twins” as the ladies were to educate the audience with a *snap* last night.  Even in the midst of some tech issues – the genuine smiles, laughter and sweetness emanating from these two on stage was palatable.  How could we not fall in love?

You may think you are not keen on Yoruba, French, and Afro-Cuban jazz infused samples with traditional instruments – but once you are in, these twins will make you swoon, weep and smile for days.  I’m still smiling.


Review: Bestival Toronto (Hanlan’s Point Beach, Toronto Island June 12th and 13th, 2015)

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Bestival Toronto is so much more than just a music festival; Bestival is a creative wonderland that landed upon the iconic and picturesque Hanlan’s Point Beach, Toronto Island on June 12th and 13th, 2015.

Upon entering Hanlan’s Point – we were greeted by pop up detail.  Ambient.  Who needs drugs when we are in nature and the vibe instantly smacked us in the face?  Think of trees festooned with a floral arbor, knitted quilted tree trunks, colourful and cheeky street furniture, greeters gently cajoling us into working it, sign posts directing us into Mad Hatter directions and friendly party goers all around.  We were in the right place.

With the likes of Florence + The Machine, Nas,  UK-based Ontarian Caribou, Australian wunderkind Flume, Syrian superstar Omar Souleyman, Chicago EDM explorers Flosstradamus, and an all firing DJ set from Bestival favourite SBTRKT (DJ), Bestival truly had it all!

We also enjoyed,  Rudimental (DJ), Owen Pallett, Keys N Krates, Born Ruffians, Bakermat, Cashmere Cat, Grandtheft, Justin Martin, Dusky, Skream, Robert Delong, DJ Tennis, Cassy, Shamir, Lane 8, Nathan Barato, Matoma, Museum of Love, Hunter Siegel, Shaun Frank, Kill Them With Colours, Humans, Tops, Whilk & Misky, Tei Shi, River Tiber, Harrison and Coleman Hell.

The Bollywood Temple, celebrated Bestival’s life-long love affair with the golden age of India.  We took time to marvel at how each piece must have came over from the UK in containers.  It was magnificent.  Even if you weren’t into the beats – staring at the structure for long enough you could slowly start to feel your legs loosening up.  It was even cooler to see a DJ tucked into the Temple spinning tunes as party goers shook their bottoms.

Additionally, the Bestival Inflatable Church where you can get hitched and the Yarn Bombing Tent where you could hang out with Toronto’s coolest crafters was fun!  It felt like Bestival was giving us everything in their pockets.

The acts, shenanigans, romps on the grounds, giggles during photos – gave us normally quiet and reserved Canadians a gentle nudge to live a little during Bestival Toronto’s weekend with us.  It was a great refresher that we can shake our tale feather just as good as folks outside our city – maybe even better when in good company.

Bestival Toronto did a tremendous job in bringing the best of the UK’s festival vibe to Toronto.  With issues of getting party goer’s home on the ferries on Friday night aside – there are indeed some rough edges that need to be smoothed out.  That said – the excellent detail, cohesiveness, ambiance, electricity, amazing artist line up and creativity – Bestival Toronto gets a huge thumbs up.  Till next summer!

Bestival Toronto

Hanlan’s Point Beach, Toronto Islands, Canada

June 12-13, 2015


Review: Field Trip Music & Arts Festival (June 6th and 7th 2015) at Fort York & Garrison Common

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For the past 2 years Arts & Crafts ‘Field Trip’ has being giving us warmed sonic vibes to launch us into the summer.  If you live in Toronto, you know the winter was extra-long for us this year and there has been an ache to have ‘Field Trip’ 2015 to come to Fort York already!

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 TD 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 family friendly ‘Day Camp’ area for kids and their peeps was immense.  Sharon & Bram, Girls Rock Camp, Toronto Music Camp and children’s sets from other Field Trip performers all showed up for the party, and were within ear shot of the popular bouncy castle, hula hoops, temporary tattoo stations, kids haircuts, ping pong tables and more.

One of many things ‘Field Trip’ does well is their nod to local cuisine vs. food trucks.  Tucking into the likes of FOOD DUDES: Captain Crunch Fish tacos, Smoky Rueben Sandwich, Dirty Chili Hash, Nutella balls*, Mac & Cheese Balls* and DEAVA’S FEED YOUR SOUL: BBQ Korean Short Ribs, Pork Belly Sandwich, Lemongrass Chicken Salad, Thai Chicken Sandwich (all farm to table) were things of beauty after long days in the sun.

The Mess Hall was brought back with Ivy Knight.  On June 6th we witnessed a Cake Decorating Contest where participants played cake boss with plain cakes and buffet of colourful candies and sweet goodness.   On June 7th, Ivy and her team of brave Field Trippers came together to build the biggest hoagie – relay style!

The roster of bands that were on ‘Field Trip’s’ schedule this year was sure to excite.  With diversity in musicians reflecting the diversity of Toronto included of ‘From Jamaica to Toronto’, ‘De La Soul’, ‘The War on Drugs’ and ‘Purity Ring’ on Day 1.  We felt the afterglow well into ‘Alabama Shakes’ set.  Day 2 was even more of a love in with ‘Father John Misty’, ‘Temples’ and ‘Marina & The Diamonds’.  If your body wasn’t aching after all of this you weren’t partying hard enough.  Then again for some of us, it doesn’t take much.

We had a great chuckle at the Laugh Barracks which was presented by Mail Chimp as the day wound down. It is a hilarious new addition to Field Trip, with performances from two of Comedy Bar’s most popular shows, Laugh Sabbath and Chuckle Co.  Sometimes you need to take a break away from the music.

Fort York is a wonderful home for ‘Field Trip’ and we hope it continues to be.  The rustic Canadiana vibe, locals meeting out of towers and familiar soothing tunes as it christens us into the summer’s arms is a big hit!  The detail, love and camaraderie that go into putting on ‘Field Trip’ from the Arts & Crafts crew makes us look forward to 2016.


Full 2015 Field Trip Programming Revealed‏


As close to perfect as festivals get.” – Toronto Star
Toronto’s coolest music festival.” – Flare
It’s a family affair, and the audience and Toronto in general is a part of it.” – Exclaim!
The closest thing Toronto has to Coachella.” – Toronto Life
What is celebrated is the city’s thriving music scene and the city itself.” – Globe & Mail

We’ve already unveiled a 2015 lineup packed with surefire amazing performances from world class artists including Alabama Shakes, My Morning Jacket, The War On Drugs, Arkells, Father John Misty, De La Soul, Purity Ring and so many more. Sure, those alone are worth the price of admission, but anyone who’s attended Field Trip knows the event is an extension of the artistic community at large, with a family vibe that’s solidified it as Toronto’s essential downtown community music and arts event.

Our annual love letter to Toronto recognizes music as the great passion play, but we aim to celebrate artistry, creativity and community in many forms. Here are a few of the ways Field Trip 2015 will create a unique, lasting impression for all music lovers and families that take part. Take a look at the insane amount of fun we’re going to have below or over on our site. And get your tickets here, now.

Oh, and check out this amazing video from our friends at Indie 88 which features Sharon & Br am joining Kevin Drew and Arkells’ Max Kerman in a rendition of Sharon, Lois & Bram classic “Peanut Butter.” Yeah, that happened.


Few things are better than great food… and Toronto’s thriving culinary community will seriously shine at Field Trip 2015.

Our selection of vendors includes an amazing cross section of the city’s food pioneers, showcasing original creations that range from artisanal sausages to maple beef-bacon donuts. There will truly be something for every taste – we’ll feature select kid-focused stations and numerous vegetarian and vegan options. We’ll have some kitchen celebs in the mix too, like Anthony Rose dishing out the finest in the VIP and Zane Caplansky’s Thunderin’ Thelma rolling on site. Bottom line: if the list here (and below) doesn’t get you salivating, something is wrong.


In the warmth of early June, Historic Fort York & Garrison Common will come alive, transformed into a diverse and colourful retreat in the heart of the city thanks to installations from Heather Goodchild, Young Offenders, Golden Age Botanicals and several other emergent Toronto visual creators. Fans and families can explore the amazing green space and be immersed within Fort York like never before. We’ve also got a few surprises, it’s going to be amazing.


2015 means a bigger and better ‘Day Camp’, where we’ll present kids (who can come to the fest for free if they’re under 12) with an embarrassment of activity riches. We’re doubling down with intimate mini sets from Sharon & Bram, Girls Rock Camp as well as some other Field Trip performers, all within ear shot of our the popular bouncy castle, hula hoops, temporary tattoo stations, kids haircuts, ping pong tables and more. Day Camp is a huge element of what sets Field Trip apart… the only problem might be pulling the kids away to go and hear some music.


This is a big one! Soar high above Fort York and defy your very reality inside this mind-blowing virtual experience. We’re thrilled to be able to offer Field Trippers a custom festival experience created just for our weekend and never before presented to the Canadian public.


Step inside this hilarious new addition to Field Trip and enjoy daily performances from two of Comedy Bar’s most popular shows, Laugh Sabbath and Chuckle Co. In between be sure to take in an annual favourite, the acclaimed Analogue Gallery Sound Image exhibition, showcasing this year’s best in Canadian music photography.


It’s one of our pillars – sure we love bringing international favourites to TO, but introducing our patrons to new artists is also a huge part of our promise. As we did in 2014, we welcome four discovery artists – new additions to the lineup carefully picked and and ready to be revelations for the open-minded listener. These include Mali guitar mania of Songhoy Blues, the lofty folk of Andy Shauf, Vancouver shimmering pop quartet The Belle Game and Toronto R&B / jazz newcomers The Wayo. We’re also partnering with ManifestoRed Bull Sound Select and local all ages promoter Johnnyland to make sure the Toronto music community is represented at several levels. Prepare to find a new favourite.


We’re deeply committed to improving the Field Trip experience each year, and we’ve been listening. This year we’ll be opening up the first full Field Trip store on site (with Fort York Stage satellite), working with our artists and designers to create a hub where fans can browse an amazing selection of exclusive and premium Field Trip, A&C and performing artist merchandise as well as rare wares from close friends and collaborators throughout the grounds. There will also probably be a few artists dropping by…


Every good festival needs a change of pace and this is ours. Inside the Perrier Greenhouse you can relax and enjoy custom cocktails and a top notch collection of Field Trip-programmed DJs and selectors. Keep it green!


Join us as we welcome back Mess Hall with host Ivy Knight! Mess Hall combines the fun of Summer Camp with an interactive culinary food program. Ivy Knight, a kitchen babe, food writer and cookbook author has been mixing up amazing ways for people to play with food for years. This year’s Mess Hall activities include corn on the cob and watermelon eating contests, mixology mischief and cake decorating with celebrity pastry chef David Chow. Bring your imagination and your appetite.


Our amazing Field Guides play a huge part in creating the special vibe at Field Trip, but it’s a big (and fun) job that needs warrants new recruits each year. Interested? We’d love to hear from you – just apply here.

Busters Seacove Ensenada-Style Fish Tacos, Shrimp Tacos, Maine Style Lobster Roll, Crab Roll
Food Dudes Captain Crunch Fish tacos, Smoky Rueben Sandwich, Dirty Chili Hash, Nutella balls, Mac & Cheese Balls
Thunderin’ Thelma [Caplansky’s] Smoked Meat Sandwich, Grilled Cheese Sandwich, BBQ Brisket Sliders, Smoked Meat Poutine, Maple Beef-Bacon Donuts
Gourmet Gringos Baja Fish Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas
Fidel Gastro Sandwiches with a variety of ingredients (Pulled Pork, Pulled Chicken, BBQ Brisket, Tempura Tilapia), Pad Thai fries
Portobello Portobello Burger, Veggie Ciabatta, Eggplant Marinara, Veggie & Tofu wraps, Kale, Quinoa and Barley salads
Summertime Lemonade Freshly squeezed lemonade
Deava’s Feed Your Soul BBQ Korean Short Ribs, Pork Belly Sandwich, Lemongrass Chicken Salad, Thai Chicken Sandwich (all farm to table)
Blue Donkey Chicken Gyros sliders, Calamari pita, souvlaki pita, lamb tacos, greek goddess (veg)
Pappas Greek Gyros, Chicken Strips, Greek Fries
Rancho Relaxo Fish Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas, Kale & Yams, Guac and Chips
Fit To Grill Seared five spice pork belly sandwich, crispy smoked chicken wings
The Poutine Machine Fresh cut fries and poutine
Penny Lou Lou Sweets Bubble cakes with fresh fruit and ice cream
Kung Fu Dawg Hot dogs and corn dogs with all the toppings
Steel Cut Coffee Hot Espresso Beverages
Cold Station Brew Cold Brewed Coffee on tap
Ultimate Concession Fries, Poutine, Burgers, Hotdogs, Polish Sausages, Peameal on a bun, Philly cheese on a bun
Heirloom Artisanal homemade sausages (chorizo, italian) Brazed lamb shank sandwich, Duck confit sandwich
JP’s BBQ Pulled pork, Beef Brisket, ribs, Fries, Poutine, Perch Tacos
The Flying Chestnut Traditional Indian Tacos featuring Grey County Beef & Local Cheddar, Vegetarian Indian Tacos with Veggie and Bean Chili and Local Cheddar

Boreal Gelato Hand made, artisanal gelato and sorbet
Bread Heads Wood Fired Pizza- organic dough, vegan options, and child friendly options
Chimney Stax Sweet Stax, Ice Cream Stax, Garlic Cheesy Stax, Cheesy HotDog Stax

Anthony Rose Salatim Platter, Fat Pasha Hummus Platter, Shrimp Tacos, Fruit Salad, Watermelon Chunks
416 Snack Bar General Tso-Fu (vegetarian), Korean Fried Chicken, Spicy Tuna Handroll
Rodney’s Oyster House Oysters on the half shell


APOSTLE OF HUSTLE plays Folkloric Feel

KEITA JUMA & BRENDAN PHILIP presented by Manifesto and Red Bull Sound Select


* Regular Price Weekend (2 Day) passes are $120. VIP Weekend (2 Day) passes are $200.
* Regular Price Single Day passes are $70. VIP Single Day passes are $125.
* All tickets are subject to a $5.00 facility fee and vendor service charges.
* Children 12 years old and under are admitted for free with any adult ticket holder to a maximum of two children per adult.
* All Regular Price passes are available now at FieldTripLife.com & Ticketmaster.ca as well as through Toronto independent retailers Rotate This (801 Queen W) and Soundscapes (572 College).
* VIP tickets available online only.

Toronto’s Downtown Community Music & Arts Festival
Saturday June 6 / Sunday June 7
Fort York & Garrison Common
Families Welcome! Kids Under 12 Get In Free!
Multi Stage / Rain or Shine



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:







Now that the World Cup is over, it’s time to get our groove on and get ready for Riot Fest 2014 in Toronto!

Just this week Riot Fest released their daily schedule for the 2 day fete and the option to buy single tickets.  Now you have absolutely no excuse.  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

Riot Fest & Expo Toronto Ticket Links:



Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF): Day 3

The second edition of the Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) finished up yesterday.  Talk about a well organized and fun festival right in our fair city of Toronto.  When we were leaving last night we were actually thinking about next year’s line up – that’s a good sign of a great three days!

We got to Day 3 a bit late but just in time to see Jenny Lewis kill it. You have to love a girl who can work a stage like David Bowie and yet bring a chilled sly country twang worth of the ghosts of Loretta Lynn, and Patsy Cline with swirls of pop to boot.

We decided to lounge under the trees after Jenny’s set.  Which was a good idea as it was still pretty sunny outside and after a two day sun burn this body needed a moment.  TURF was perfect for lounging.  There was never a need to hustle or to have to ‘move’ from our lil spot.

When Jeff Tweedy came onto the stage we were so Zen as we sat beside an older punk who was clearly meditating – we just rolled into his folksy set with ease.

As recently announced, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy has formed a new band with his 18-year-old son, Spencer, under the fitting moniker of Tweedy. They will release an album called ‘Sukierae’ on September 16 through Wilco’s label dBpm.

Seeing the camaraderie and genuine mutual love of making music between father and son was inspiring.  Tweedy even mentioned how it took him ’18 years to grow a drummer’.  Imagine being 18 years old and playing festival dates with your fan adored pops?  Just all around super sweet.  That vibe indeed complimented the familial feel of TURF.

It was even more romantic as I observed a young dad playing with their 2 year old son’s around us.  The boy was wearing one of those lovely life saver colored headphones as he played with sticks quietly. His parents watched Tweedy and for a good 30 minutes there wasn’t a peep out of the kid.  TURF kids were already well seasoned concert goers.

We had a grand time at TURF 2014.  For a three day weekend of fun and frolic everything was done right.  From the details, a lovely mix of music concert goers from young to mature, family centric, teen friendly and on point musical programming.   We got everything we wanted and more.  Plus the bonus of relaxation as the sun set above the Gardiner Expressway will carry me through the rest of the year until we meet again in 2015 TURF.


Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) – TURF VIP Day 2

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The second edition of the Toronto Urban Roots Festival (TURF) commenced on Friday.  We had a blast at TURF Day 2.  TURF ends today and we are excited to get the day started!

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.

We opted for TURF VIP this year strictly from a place of comfort and getting some amazing shots of bands to share with you (our readers).

What did we get?

TURF VIP passes gives you access to enclosed VIP lounges located beside all three outdoor stages at Fort York. Each VIP area has access to semi-private washrooms, un-crowded bars (alcohol, pop, water), and access in front of the stage barricade to watch the show from the front row and or a side of stage VIP area.

Separate entrance into the festival grounds for all VIPS

Festival exit/re-entry privileges (Only available for VIP, Master VIP, and 3 Day Multi Tickets/VIP)

Shaded and tented areas

Access to general admission TURF grounds

Excellent views of the stage

Let me tell you the views were spectacular and TURF VIP was spacious.  Gone are the days when we will be travelling General Admission.  From a perspective of comfort from the hot summer sun – TURF VIP is where it’s at.

The highlight of our TURF VIP experience were the shower curtain like mats that were kept in the tented area at VIP.  After the first day at TURF, I left my woolly blanket at home and used the mat provided by TURF VIP for whenever we needed to rest our tootsies under a shaded tree.  Best idea ever!  Thank you, for whoever thought that up!

I also like the fact that the trees did indeed save us thanks to the TURF VIP area.  Gosh – it was hot yesterday.  To be able to see your band and still not feel like you were sweating buckets was helpful.  As we sat on our mats and relaxed it felt really enjoyable to listen to music and people watch.

Then there was the ‘facilities’ issue. If you have to go, you have to go.  We never waited once to use the ‘facilities’.  In some of the toilets there was even a sink with running water to wash your hands.  Oh yes, when you have been to Lollapalooza in Chicago like me and seen the debauchery after a 3 day music festival – things get a tad messy.

Have we had fun at TURF VIP?  Oh yes.  Were we comfortable at TURF VIP?  Oh yes.  Would we do TURF VIP again?  OUI!

Today is TURF Day 3, if you were thinking of going – it’s time!

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


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.


Review: Arts & Crafts ‘Field Trip’ 2014

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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.