Friday, July 27th, 2007
There’s an interesting editorial piece in this week’s eye, wondering what it would take for Toronto to host a really world-class music festival, something perennial and world-renowned, along the lines of Coachella or Glastonbury. They’re talking, of course, about the big one-off outdoor types that are as much about the locale as the event and not the touring types like Ozzfest or Warped, nor the club crawlers of which we’ve got plenty (NxNE, CMW, OTT, etc).
The timing of the piece is intended to coincide with this weekend, which finds three major fests taking place in and around the city. Wakestock out on the Islands, the Rogers Picnic downtown at Historic Fort York and Hillside a little ways outside of town in Guelph. Wakestock bills itself as “world’s largest wakeboarding event” (though admittedly, the music is ancillary to the sports), the Rogers Picnic – which may or may not be a renamed Dog Day Afternoon from last year (the Metric-headlined event, not the Sadies hoe-down outside Guelph) – boasts a solid lineup that is geared both to urban and indie rock audiences (though the fact that you can’t bring drinks of any kind puts lie to the “picnic” part of their name) and celebrating something like its 24th year, Hillside is world-renowned though its reputation is still more as a folk fest than the far less genre-specific event its become in recent years. Guelph is not Toronto but are you telling me that people from less than an hour outside Chicago don’t feel that Lollapalooza is theirs?
But the event that most closely resembles what the article says it wishes to see is Virgin Fest though the piece seems to dismiss it because… what, you can’t camp there? Granted, it’s easy to dislike V Fest if you’re so inclined – last year’s event went off with many hitches and left a sour taste in peoples mouths (one year on, still no make-up date for The Flaming Lips) and there’s also the matter of selling advertising on every available surface. The UK edition has been around long enough that the event has an identity separate from the title sponsor but here, it still smells to some like a giant cellphone ad.
But putting that aside, the V Fest lineup stands up against many of the US fests that the piece extols – maybe fewer in total, but still top caliber. Bjork, Smashing Pumpkins and The Killers are headliners wherever they’d play (don’t take this as an endorsement from me, just a statement of fact). If this year goes well and the name starts to carry more (positive) cachet, that can only help the talent draw for future editions and before you know it, you’ve got a festival that gives Toronto the “world-class” music fest the piece yearns for. As for the no-logo aspect, I do wonder why Montreal is able to put on the Osheaga fest (this year on the same weekend as V Fest) with many/most of the same artists as V Fest but without the saturation branding…?
But I’ll never argue against more excellent music fests within walking distance – seeing what Ottawa’s Bluesfest has become makes me sad that ours died a few years ago – so the suggestions that there are some new, festival-worthy venues in development is exciting though I can’t imagine where they’d be. I hope to god that taking Molson Park/Park Place in Barrie out of mothballs isn’t in the offing – anyone who’s sat in traffic for hours and hours on the 400 trying to get up there knows what it is to be in hell. Better/more frequently utilizing the Islands also has its appeal, but the ferryboat logistics and hard curfew are somewhat limiting factors. As for the Downsview site, well it’s been some years since I’ve had cause to hang out on a decomissioned air force base, but isn’t that place mostly just concrete? Not especially appealing though neither is a desert or mudpit, yet those settings seem to draw the kids in anyways.
Anyways. Much rumination over nothing. I’m off to Hillside tomorrow so this place will be pretty quiet till Monday, when I will hopefully have a coherent wrap up of the first day’s action. So without further ado, let’s clear out some content.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs talk to Billboard about how things are going on their third full-length album. Their just-released Is Is EP wasn’t new material, but older recordings that didn’t make either of the first two records. The Associated Press also has an interview with Karen O.