EdgeFest // Toronto // 31.7.13
Music festivals are a slow burn. There’s an initial feeling of joy and excitement about actually being within twenty feet of some of the most talented and influential people in the music industry, which slowly builds to (often) chaotic levels. Some music festivals flounder and die, never to return, sometimes they receive such positive responses they return year after year. Edgefest is like a less wild, uninhibited, drug-driven version of larger festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachella, and Woodstock (when Woodstock was still Woodstock). Though the hardcore days of music festivals seems destined to remain in the good ol’ US of A, Edgefest is Toronto’s admirable defiance to the contrary.
The concert started with the very loud and very showy performance by July Talk. Leah Fay entered the stage in a full wedding gown, crown of flowers and all. The band thrashed about to their rock in an almost demonic performance. Leah shuffled across the stage on her knees, threw her dress over her head, and only stopped short of stripping and throwing her dress into the crowd, although she later changed outfits after the band’s set and the wedding dress was found on a man, hours later, who had been escorted off Edgefest grounds by the police.
The rock was countered by the Treble’s country on the small stage, hidden behind a few large, intersecting lines, the line for Jager being almost as outrageous as the one for poutine. The band shouted “Follow your dream! Follow it!” to a crowd of several thousand people. As in many music festival, the stages didn’t work in tandem, and while one band played on one stage, another played on the other. The result was slightly less chaotic, without the surges of people trekking from stage A to stage B.
As July Talk’s set ended, Leah screamed at the crowd that Dinosaur Bones was coming on stage. “No one is as excited as I am,” she said. “They’ve got a new album coming out August 6th. I’ve heard it. It’s amazing.” Dinosaur Bones were more mellow than July Talk’s very heavy rock and stage presence, yet still inspired crowd surfing that sent all the security guards into a stern, angry, high alert. Watching from the photo pit, the crowd sent every single crowd surfer to the front of the stage, almost angrily dumping them over the barricade so that security had to scramble to catch them.
The Neighbourhood, spelt with a “u” regardless of their Los Angeles heritage, brought every single girl out of the crowd and stuck them near the stage. Or at least that’s how it seemed. The power that came off the crowd itself was exciting, and Jesse Rutherford milked it, stalking to and fro like a caged animal and working the crowd up to a blissful lather.
Because my life up to a point did not resemble a Hunter S. Thompson novel, it wasn’t always so easy for me to find myself backstage, but my luck had turned and there I was, standing watching the backs of The Neighbourhood bounce to their effervescent alternative-rock.
Later, Mother Mother took the stage with their light show and poppy lyrics, setting the huge crowd alit with their 80s, soaring guitar solos and bass-drum-heavy beats. While on the small stage, Capital Cities was vaguely reminiscent of 90s pop bands. Combining pop, dubstep, and reggae, the band was extremely danceable.
Afterwards, Monster Truck came on the main stage, but I had, once again, snuck myself backstage and was playing bean bag toss with members of Hey Marseilles. The backstage area consisted of a large, tented area surrounded by a veritable barricade of RVs, with a station set up at the rear for countless shots of Jager, complete with impressive Jager-inspired ice sculpture. (Thanks Jager). And that’s when the rain began, hardly noticeable in the Jager-induced blanket of warmth placed over my shoulders, which was bolstered by the invitation to Chicago from Hey Marseilles, which I didn’t take. Instead, I bumped into a photographer and we dashed headlong through the rain to the car park (and we didn’t fall in the mud once!).
Edgefest was a chaotic mash of music, ending in a muddy, wet mess which I’m positive greeted headliners The Lumineers with screams of joy instead of grumpy disappointment. Although I indeed missed the headliners, the concert was wonderful. Spending as much time as possible where you shouldn’t technically be is the beauty of a concert. Pretend you know what you’re doing and stay until they kick you out are cardinal rules of concert-going. Of course, a certain dash of luck never hurt anything. Don’t get too drunk, but if you can make-out with band members that never could hurt either, and it might get you a free trip to Lollapalooza. You never know.