Festival Review: Edgefest Summer Concert Series – July 1st 2014

Edgefest July 1st

Canada Day at Echo Beach was where 102.1 The Edge hosted Edgefest this year. It was a welcome shift in venue—very few can deny being on the waterfront on a hot and humid day with the sexy Toronto skyline in the background! Music lovers arrived early and setup blankets and lawn chairs, while others wandered in a bit later and still managed to dance their way to the front of the crowd. I found the venue very accessible and easy to find anyone that has lost their way. I also found it easy to make my way up to the front of the crowd to see my favorite bands play – everyone seemed to be in a great mood.

Despite the weather forecast calling for thunderstorms all day, there wasn’t a cloud in sight. It brought the perfect opportunity for sunbathing and selfies with strangers and friends alike.

Matt Mays took the stage with his handsome fedora and sexy raspy voice. I had seen him a couple years back and wasn’t familiar with his sound but it seemed fitting that he won me over today, his complex guitar riffs and gentleman bow were all this girl needed to sink into his set. I could not stop dancing to his rhythm, and despite my slight bias, I will tell you this Hamilton-born East Coast crooner certainly knows how to rock.

Following that set was Monster Truck. I have been obsessed with their sound since they released Seven Seas Blues and Righteous Smoke in 2011 with Dine Alone Records. These steel town musicians are single handedly responsible for my desire to learn how to leap across the stage while playing an instrument (any instrument, really, please teach me!) They pulled all the stops with their hot blue lights and smoke show. At one point, Jeremy Wilderman leaped so furiously while playing his solo, it felt like he would jump into the crowd. I was excitedly dancing below as the mosh pit began to brew and I held tightly onto my Canadian flag and went along with it.

What would be Canada Day in Toronto without closing out a festival with The Sheepdogs? This band warms my heart and stirs my Canadian Spirits. No matter how many times I’ve seen them play, it always blows me away that they were once a simple small town Saskatchewan band that made it on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. Ewan, Ryan, Sam and Leot are truly the band that I would take home to meet the family – especially after I met their relatives at the premiere of their Documentary Have At It In 2013 and they were more excited about their hometown cat making a cameo than they were about being interviewed themselves. If you haven’t heard of them by now, you may be living under a rock. Every single one of their songs contains the harmonic nostalgia of the classic artists such as The Guess Who and the forward thinking progression technology of The Black Keys (Patrick Carney produced their self-titled album). I must always sing along, raise my hands, or get my groove on. They closed the night with a beautiful sing-along of Oh Canada as well as calling the other bands on stage to perform a cover of legendary Neil Young’s Southern Man.

My heart was full, like a balloon filling with air too quickly – it might burst. It was a Happy Canada Day indeed.

Review by Stefanie Romano | @stefaloves

It was a soggy start to Canada Day, but by the time the afternoon arrived the sky had softened. The venue change for this years Edgefest meant that instead of the wide expanse of grass at Downsview Park, we the people were now situated by the water, in the semi-abandoned theme park that once was Ontario Place.

On the smaller aka “emerging artists” stage, Teenage Kicks started the evening. Not to be confused with a record of the same name by Irish new wave/punk rock band The Undertones, Teenage Kicks uses more of the heavy rock music that reminds one of those love/hate bands such as Aerosmith or Nickelback, which I believed even with the Helter Skelter cover.

Royal Canoe followed. Their robotic, trance-y vocals made a kid beside me say to his mother “They aren’t very good.” Robots became alien-esque, almost Daft Punk-like. The music became more trance-like, mirroring the EDM from Digital Dreams across the water a few days earlier.

The Zolas sounded familiar, until I realized I’d heard them on the radio, or something. Pretty nice falsetto Zachary. Twangy guitars always remind me of the west coast, or at least what I imagine California would sound like were it an instrument, and combined with a slide and emerging sunlight, one could almost ignore the echo of the cymbal across the water.

Head of the Herd opened after some crowd-pumping hip hop (again, Digital Dreams had happened only days before, and people were still coming down from their various rave highs) and then went in a different direction with an energetic harmonica, which holds the danger of making every song sound incredibly similar. With their Blues Brothers outfits and raging country music, the band cemented the festival as live radio listening.

Matt Mays arrived with more home-grown music. There’s an east coast feel to the music, if you can divide a country by music, which I’d obviously like to think you can. But with powerful guitar melodies ad a Bruce Springsteen vibe in his vocals, matt Mays proves he is so much more than the little Nova Scotia town from which he hails.

The sun was setting and the stage lights turned on for Monster Truck, a band that had played the festival before and one which apparently half the crowd had come to see. Modern, heavy rock, like early Guns n Roses, which is alright because present day Guns n Roses is a shadow of its former self, but interesting to note that people are definitely of the-more-the-merrier mindset when it comes to popular music. This is both amazing and fun to watch, although can lead to a stagnant pool of music from which to listen. Essentially, it was like watching Wolfmother, but not.

The sun had officially sunk below the city and fireworks began to go off before The Sheepdogs went on stage (there were promises of fireworks, which we all later found out were metaphorical fireworks). A Saskatchewan flag and another twangy guitar signaled the bands roots, and they carried on with their well-layered harmonies and melodies, excellent tempo changes mid-song, and complex instrumental arrangements in a way that was celebratory, but not self-congratulatory. Apart from the mosquitoes, (every time the lights went up you could see a cloud of them hanging menacingly over the crowd), the night was probably the complete opposite of the morning.

In a somewhat depressing move, in light of the celebratory mood of the night of their most recent performance, came the departure of Leot Hanson, the band’s lead guitarist, which some fans are hailing as a break-up. In the words of Ewan Curie from their performance at the festival, boogie on. Boogie on indeed. To new and greener pastures.

Review by Emily Fox |

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