Despite the insane amounts of rain, it was a wonderful spectacle. Just yesterday I had the great pleasure of attending EdgeFest 2009 in Downsview Park, Toronto. A slew of bands played on two different stages, and with the rain that kept coming the grass quickly became mud. Rather than just give a general overview, I’ll go into detail on each band I saw. I didn’t see every single one of them, so it won’t be infinitely long.
The first band I saw was The Johnstones, who could be called a ska-ish band. I had never heard their music before and it was a lot of fun to listen to. All of the band members were very energetic, but I found myself looking at the keyboard player. Imagine a kind of short guy, slightly overweight, with long hair, rosy cheeks, a tatoo on his beer belly, no shirt and pants that looked like pajamas. That was him. He was awesome to watch. Overall a good set despite the Johnstones being known for being very, very egotistical. Band’s Quote: “I think the saying goes that first is the worst but…” “Ya, first is the best!” “And I believe legend has it that third is the one with the hairy chest.”
Next up was a band called Still Life Still, a band whose music I would call alternative-rock. They were a far more modest band, and though I don’t remember many of their songs they performed very well. Band’s Quote: “Hi, we’re Still Life Still, we’re from an area of Toronto called East York which doesn’t really exist anymore but we like to think it does.”
With not much time left until the first main act, Arkells, I saw a band called Clothes Make the Man. These guys very pleasantly surprised me. They are a rare band that does not put the instruments up way over the singer. I could identify every word the singer was saying. They seemed pretty awesome. Band’s Quote: “Don’t stare at an eclipse/ or you’ll go blind” (from one of their songs)
And with that, Arkells opened up the main stage. Starting the first song with a harmonica solo, everyone was getting pumped. Admittedly I didn’t know many of their songs but I did recognize their song Oh No, The Boss Is Coming and was able to sing a little bit with their closing song, John Lennon. Band’s Quote: “I’m John Lennon, it’s ’67” (from John Lennon)
Next was The Stills and honestly I wasn’t all that impressed with them, especially since I was more looking forward to a band coming up on the second stage. I didn’t see why the Stills needed the main stage- some of the second stage bands were way better. Band’s Quote: “Alright, we’re going to try and conjure some shit. The next song is called Snake Charmer.”
One of the moments I had been waiting for came up next. Beast was playing on the second stage and I was going out of my fucking mind waiting for them to go on. Unfortunately, they were struck with technical difficulties and their set, which was only supposed to be twenty minutes anyways, got cut short. They got in three songs only, but from what they did play, there are no words to describe Betti Bonnifassi’s brilliance on stage. Fucking incredible, nothing else to say. Band’s Quote: “We started late so we can’t play any more songs for you. We love you all.”
Next on the main stage was the only rapper of the event, K-oS. Boy, was he something. Despite the crowd being very white, everyone really got into everything he did. The crowd got really pumped when he sang hits from his past album, songs like Electric Heat: The Seekwill and Sunday Morning. At one point in the show he threw three blow-up dolls into the audience. Don’t ask why. He also surprised everyone when, during his performance of Man I Used to Be he pulled on Dallas Green from Alexisonfire to sing with him. Dallas looked as surprised as we were. Band’s Quote: “Dallas is going to sing the song now…”
Next on the main stage, the amazing Canadian/American fusion that is Metric. They played a really, really awesome set consisting of many new songs from their album “Fantasies” such as Gold Guns Girls, Twilight Galaxy, Satellite Mind, Help I’m Alive and Gimme Sympathy. My general observation was that despite Emily Haines being very talented, she was also a little full of herself. Band’s Quote: “We’re going to need enough love to fill the entire UNIVERSE! Or at least Downsview Park. One or the other.”
Some of my friends went to go see Cancer Bats but I wasn’t all that interested since screamo really isn’ my thing. And so then Alexisonfire took the stage and everyone went fucking nuts. Even though I don’t like listening to screaming, I have to admit I really enjoyed their performances. When they did songs from their new album “Old Crows/Young Cardinals” George (the lead screamer/singer) almost sounded like he was singing. Band’s Quote: “This one’s a barn burner, folks…”
After that is was the only American headliner, AFI‘s turn to take the stage. I didn’t know many of their songs and didn’t even stand up to watch them, but they were okay. Of course they got the best response from their well-known songs such as Girl’s Not Grey, Silver and Cold, Love Like Winter and of course the ever-popular Miss Murder. I was surprised that I was able to sing pretty much every word of that last song considering I hadn’t heard it in a long time. Band’s Quote: “This next song is the first song we ever wrote. So if you guys can sing along you’ll be one of the five who can.”
And finally, finally the biggest headliner of the night came on, that being Billy Talent. Admittedly I am a huge fan of the band, and I could tell when I sang along with pretty much every song from their first two albums. I was even able to sing along with their new single Rusted From the Rain despite having only heard it once. I had the most fun singing along with Devil In a Midnight Mass, This Suffering, The Navy Song and Turn Your Back. Ben Kowalewicz, the lead singer has such an amazing on stage presence that I have to have at least two quotes from him. Quote #1: “Someone threw a chicken! Whatever happened to people throwing bras and panties on the stage? I get a fucking chicken thrown at me.” Quote #2: “You know, I feel too clean. Where’s that mud? (after getting mud thrown at him) “Thank you.”
Overall a very, very, satisfying day. It’s hard to leave with just one band’s video at the end of this, but I think I’ll go with Alexisonfire’s new single, Young Cardinals. That wouldn’t be expected of me.