Review: Edgefest Toronto 2015 (Mother Mother, Kongos, Coleman Hell, K.I.D., + BESTiE)

The third and final installment of Edgefest was held on August 15th at TD’s Echo Beach. The location was a welcome change from the usual Downsview Park, with Echo Beach offering more shade, lots of places to take a breather and sit down (giant Muskoka chairs, for instance), and an intimate Emerging Artists Stage that backed onto Brigantine Cove. Gray—a Toronto artist, and a 2014 finalist in the Edge’s Next Big Thing competition—was the first to play on the Emerging stage, following by BESTiE. With songs like “Bubble Bath,” “Pineapple,” and “Asleep on the Bus,” BESTiE kept the crowd entertained, even getting the attention of a couple of kayakers paddling through the cove behind them.

Post show, BESTiE hung around backstage. Edgefest’s stage setup allowed for good band-fan interaction, and BESTiE was kind enough to take a custom group photo for AMBY. Good planning decisions also included having a bar and place to get pizza edged right up against the water, with lots of tables and a direct sightline to the Emerging stage. From there, I watched K.I.D (Kids in Dispair) play their set, inclusive of their best known track, “I wish I was your cigarette.” I was eager to get a sense of K.I.D after reading their bio (which includes the fact that “Cigarettes” was “recorded after a drunken stint in Toronto’s Chinatown where they met a stripper who wanted to hear their music, and followed them back to their studio” (Swagger New York)), and they definitely didn’t disappoint. Their grittier music was a surprising and appealing contrast to the electro-pop, sometimes banjo-infused music of Coleman Hell. Aside from the familiar “2 Heads,” Coleman Hell previewed some new material. “Flower Child” was one of those songs; with a catchy chorus, it’ll surely engage audiences when Coleman Hell tours with Cold War Kids, Robert Delong, Passion Pit, and RAC this fall.

That was it for the Emerging stage. By a quarter to seven, crewmembers were dismantling the set-up and Edgefest goers were migrating over to the main stage for Scott Hellman’s opening set. Hellman played an impressive set of songs, working his way through “That Sweater,” “Cry, Cry, Cry,” “The Lion,” Machine,” “Tikka,” and up to the crowd favourite, “Bungalow.”

Kongos were up next. The four brothers (Dylan, Daniel, Jesse, and Johnny) were nearly overshadowed when a man on a Flyboard—a water jet pack that’s strapped onto both feet and propels you into the air, creating the appearance of one walking on two streams of water—shot out of Brigantine Cove. Everyone turned from the band to the Flyboarder to take photos and gawk at the stunt, even the band stealing quick, over-the-shoulder glances. Kongos reclaimed the audience’s focus, however, when they played “Come With Me Know,” with a few very enthusiastic fans dancing club-style. Other favourites included “Sex on the Radio” and “Hey I Don’t Know.”

The headliners, Mother Mother, were met with a loud roll of cheers. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jasmin Parkin from Mother Mother back in 2013, when they were a supporting act at Edgefest and still thinking through what form and style their next album would take. As they’ve moved from supporting to headlining Edgefest, Ryan, Molly, Jasmin, Jeremy, and Ali had the same charismatic energy and their new songs were met with enthusiasm from the audience. The band rolled through a series of danceable tracks from Very Good Bad Thing (2014), including “Monkey Tree,” “Get Out the Way” and “Modern Love.”

Mother Mother didn’t offer the audience much of a breather, steadily playing through songs to create a continuum of music. Ryan Guldemond, though, did pause before playing “Monkey Tree,” offering an inspirational thank-you pep talk. He said that this song, it was about being free, about freedom. Then he congratulated everyone at Edgefest for getting out of their houses and doing something with their Saturday night, for spending time with friends and supporting local music. He talked about the hundreds of shows Mother Mother has played, but that playing Toronto was still special. He got big claps for that. He grinned and shook his bleach blond mohawk out from in front of his eyes, and continued playing.

Follow updates from Mother Mother here.

Review by Leah Edwards (@leahhedwards)

Leave a Reply

+ 25 = 33