Edgefest -Toronto’s premiere alternative rock music festival - took place on Saturday and for the second time in two summers I have been fortunate enough to be able to attend.
Despite not being blown away by this year’s lineup (as compared to last year anyway when the Arkells, Hollerado, Monkingbird Wish Me Luck, Rise Against, The Weakerthans, and Tokyo Police Club graced the show) Edgefest is an event I simply could not miss. It is the biggest festival of its kind that my “home town” of Toronto gets (which is a shame in it’s own right) and the entire festival is an experience which I, as an avid alternative music geek (I like to think of myself more as an “aficionado”), indulge in. As such, I have some thoughts I’d like to share on the day.
First off; the heat. It is mid-July and with global warming and such yesterday’s event was hot as All Hell. Almost unbearably hot at times with temperatures surely reaching beyond the 35 degree (celcius) mark, not complemented by the big empty open space that is Downsview Park (some shade, natural or otherwise, was a hot commodity yesterday - almost as sought after as the free water which had lines that seemed to stretch forever). I probably lost 5 lbs in sweat yesterday so I that’s a good thing I guess. After a couple $8 beers the heat simply becomes something you deal with, which lets you focus on what matters: the day itself.
There were really only two acts I was eager to see at this year’s show: The Darcys and the Silversun Pickups. After having to go back to the car to return the blanket I had brought with me (apparently you couldn’t bring a blanket into the event, with no indication of such a rule on Edgefest’s online “festival guide”, resulting in having to make an extra 15 minute trek to my car, and back, again in that horrible, horrible heat) my girlfriend and I made it into Edgefest 2012. We initially hit up some merch tables (we figured it would be smart to buy some stuff early-on before the crowds got too big) and I bought a sweet Silversun Pickups “U.S. 2012 Tour” shirt (which interestingly has 3 Canadian stops on it). We then moved onto the side stage where we would spend the majority of our day.
The Darcys played the stage at 2:20 PM and I was quite impressed with their set (my girlfriend and a friend whom we had met up with were less so). The Darcys have a very melodramatic, moody sound which I totally dig. They’re making waves in the indie music scene and this band is going places, I’m sure.
After The Darcys I wandered the grounds a bit, getting a better take of what was in store. The layout of the event had been altered from last summer, with the main stage more excluded from the rest of the venue (or was it that the side stage and newly added electronic tent which were more separated? Guess it doesn’t really matter). In our wandering we came in and out the Indian Handcrafts and The Apache Relay sets. However it wasn’t until about 4 o’clock when I would get really re-invested in a band at the show. It was at this time when the band Whale Tooth, of whom I had never heard of previously, took to the side stage and impressed me considerably (so much so that I purchased their recently released Search Party). Frontwoman Elise LeGrow brought an infectious excited energy to the stage, a perfect distraction to the blazing heat which was just now beginning to subside as the beginnings of the evening dawned. Reinvigorated, our troope (which had now grown to 6 people) moved on to catch the tail-end of The Sheepdogs’s set (no pun intended) over on the main stage. We then decided to grab some food and get in the aforementioned free-water line, which was long enough for us to enjoy most of Hacienda’s set. We then settled in to catch the beginning of Said The Whale, at which point the girlfriend and I decided to leave our little group to go grab a decent spot for Silversun.
The Pickups did not disappoint in the slightest and finally getting a chance to see them live has only increased my love of the band. Playing tunes spanning all 3 of their albums, their set was pure enjoyment and well worth attending Edgefest for in its own right. They are a band full of likeable (and for me, relatable) seemingly nerdy/geeky individuals who play awesome music. From frontman Brian Aubert’s terrific commentary on rowdy crowd members (which went something along the lines of: “any child can jump around, an adult can jump around and not ruin the experience for other people”) to bassist Nikki Monniger’s cuteness whenever she addressed the thousands of people before her, to Chris Guanlao’s drumming - it was all great. Brian also made a couple references to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on stage - as if my adoration of the band could get any more intense at that point. After Silversun Pickups departed it came to that point in the evening where all I wanted to do was find a patch of ground, claim it for my own, and sit there (which is exactly what I did). I literally sat through Death From Above 1979’s set (but thoroughly enjoyed their commentary in-between songs - plenty of shout-outs and love given to their Toronto roots). Finally the headlining group, Billy Talent, took to the stage. While I have never been a Billy Talent fan - and only know their music off their 2003 self-titled effort - they can put on a live show and it was clear that many of the thousands of people that had endured the day’s heat had done so simply to see them play.
Overall, Edgefest 2012 was an awesome experience. It is literally one of a kind for Toronto - can’t wait ‘til next year.