Wavelength 12 Festival: Day One

Slim Twig

by Elena Gritzan

The days of Wavelength’s weekly shows were before my time as a Torontonian (they ended in 2010), but I can appreciate how much they have added to the musical landscape of the city that I now call home.  The showcase has brought together a community of musicians and fans, and launched the careers of quite a few bands you might have heard of: Broken Social Scene, the Constantines, the Hidden Cameras, Crystal Castles, and Caribou (I could go on, but I think you get the point: this is kind of a big deal!).  This year marks the twelfth anniversary of Wavelength and, as per tradition, they are hosting a festival packed with an incredible amount of diverse talent.

Four days, four different venues, and twenty bands.  That’s enough to get any music fan excited, and there is definitely something for everyone to fall in love with at this year’s Wavelength.

The first night of the show took place Thursday night at Parts and Labour in Parkdale.  The small basement venue, packed full with a rather diverse crowd, displayed moving projections that looked like paint swirls behind the stage.  They gave an interesting visual element to the performances (though I did overhear some complaints about dizziness throughout the night).

Calypso band Eucalyptus opened the festival, layering trumpet, saxophone and a changing cast of other instruments (mostly flute or keyboard) over a steady groove made up of percussion and bass.  The festival’s cross-genre approach really became apparent between the first and second acts: next up was one-man experimental electronic act Man Made Hill.  He was adorned in silver/black face paint and full of frenetic energy as he created looped synth beats with echo-filled, often shouted lyrics.  I’m not sure what he was singing about (I caught something about the pituitary gland), but it was impossible not to get caught up in the energy of his performance.

Then another genre switch: Slim Twig brought his arty pop to the stage.  I was surprised to notice halfway through that most of the songs’ large sound was created without the help of a guitar, but were based on keyboards and some really fantastic bass lines.  Two words: stage presence.  He shuffled around the stage, keeping everyone’s attention as they bounced along to each song.  I can understand the Elvis comparisons that he has gotten, for sure.

The final two bands, Odonis Odonis and Metz, I unfortunately had to miss (as I’ve said, being a chemistry student during the day tends to get in the way of things!).  Yet I still left the venue just after midnight feeling full musically and extremely excited for the days ahead.  If I learned anything at the first night of Wavelength, it is that Toronto is full of a huge spectrum of music and that this festival is a great way to bring it all together.

I’ll let you know how night number two goes!

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