An (almost) completely Canadian review of Edgefest 2011

Harlan Pepper

by Michael

After a year’s hiatus, 102.1 The Edge put on their (almost) annual music festival, Edgefest. Once again, it was heavy on the Canadian talent, though its two headliners (A Perfect Circle and Rise Against) were American. Oh, and a Japanese band was there too.

To be clear from the get-go: I didn’t see Rise Against or A Perfect Circle.

I spent the day going back and forth between stages but got there later than I had hoped. When I arrived, I literally just missed San Sebastian, a young group with a lot of youthful energy behind them.

Following them was all-girl punk-rock group Red Bacteria Vacuum, all the way from Tokyo, Japan. The girls only managed to get three songs in because the bassist’s instrument/amp failed. Still, the brief show they did put on was very energetic and they got everyone in the slightly-confused crowd to sing “Enso Wa Tanoshi” with them.

I then went over to the main stage to see a half hour set from Dinosaur Bones. The boys played a good show. I never know how to describe their music accurately- it’s kind of ethereal rock. My favourite part was when they sang “Royalty” as it is definitely their most upbeat track.

I wasn’t really into watching The Reason so I instead went and watched Mockingbird Wish Me Luck on the side stage. I had no idea what to expect from the Kitchener, Ont. band, but they ended up putting on a decent set. The scratchy vocals from the two guitarists and bassist were a nice change though I couldn’t really understand anything they said.

I stayed at the second stage as Toronto’s Michou played. Their set was a lot of fun. Particularly fun to watch was their keyboardist/trumpet player who was definitely the most energetic of the bunch.


Back to the main stage, perennial Edgefest performers Arkells were back. It’s obvious that this band has broken through to Edge listeners and music lovers- the large crowd got really into their set as they played songs like “Pullin’ Punches” and “The Ballad of Hugo Chavez.” They ended their set with fan favourite “John Lennon” and the entire crowd sang along for the chorus intro: “I’m so lost, and I live just around the corner.”

In the middle of the Arkells set I raced over to the second stage to see Harlan Pepper. Their set was also hit with technical difficulties, though they managed to squeeze in three songs, ending with “Little Miss Sunshine.” Though the boys put on an impressive performance (considering how young they all are) their folk sound seemed a little at odds with the other more rock-centric acts. A lot of the Arkells sound from the main stage bled into their set.

Once again I returned to the main stage to watch Tokyo Police Club who put on a very impressive set. They played a very even mix of old favourites like “Nature of the Experiment” and new material like “Favourite Colour” and “Breakneck Speed.” Lead singer Dave Monks was very personable and keyboardist Graham Wright was sporting an “I Love R3” t-shirt which put a smile on my face. They ended their set with the catchy “Your English is Good.”

I immediately bolted back to the second stage where The Sheepdogs started to play. I didn’t get great standing room but it didn’t affect my pleasure of seeing them perform. This band probably had one of, if not the best, shows that day. Bands just don’t play like the Sheepdogs do, who have mastered the southern rock sound of the seventies and gave it new life. All kinds of people sang along to “I Don’t Know” and I dug the guitar solos for “Southern Dreaming.”

I then made a very foolish mistake. Rather than watch the Weakerthans, I instead decided to stay at the second stage to get a better view when Hollerado eventually on. I had to stand through the set of KO which was definitely my lowlight of the whole festival. I didn’t remember until the last minute that he’s kind of Toronto’s stoner god. I could go into full detail of why his set was so bad but I’ll just say that he wore an acoustic guitar as a prop.

Finally Hollerado came on and put on a characteristically unpredictable and energetic show. They opened up with “What’s Everybody Running For?” and then played “Juliette” which everyone sang along with. They also played one new song, “Americanarama” and “Got To Lose.” Lead singer Menno Versteeg told a story about being puked on, lots of confetti was fired, and at one point Joel Clifton of Dinosaur Bones joined them on stage and freestyle rapped. They ended, surprisingly, with a cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” and Versteeg crowd surfed toward the end.

Overall it was a very fun day with a lot of great acts. My one regret was not seeing the Weakerthans. But it was still a lot of music all packed into one day and was definitely worth seeing.



  1. Did A perfect Circle and Rise Against actually not show up to the fest or did you just somehow miss out on seeing them or coordinating playing times? It sounded like you knew exactly when and where all the acts were playing so that is just a little hard to believe. It seemed Fearless Fred was pretty bummed out on missing A Perfect Circle also but I didnt hear the entire spiel. Although hearing him was what prompted me to search up on it.

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