July 15, 2008
After 20 consecutive years and one year off, Edgefest came back to Toronto with a vengeance. Although the line-up wasn’t quite as glamorous as some of the previous incarnations of this all day festival, it promised more than the last few years have delivered. A re-united STP, Linkin Park, The Bravery, and a handful of local up and coming talent gave music fans young and old a cross section of musical styles. Here’s a summary of the hits and misses from the day.
First of all my apologies to dark rock outfit Alpha Galates whose set we just missed coming into Downsview park. If their set was anything like the one they played at Canadian Music Week it would have been incredible.
Hamilton rock band Arkells opened the main stage with an impressive dose of their 70’s southern rock meets indie sound. For the most part their music was just background music for those entering the park. Those who caught the set were entertained by a perfect backdrop to a sunny afternoon. These guys would be the perfect soundtrack for any cottage outing. It’s unfortunate they only where able to play for 25 minutes.
Toronto’s The Stereohoax describe themselves as "Honest to God in your face rock and roll for you and your soul." Anyone in attendance would find it hard to argue against them. With their straight ahead, hook infused rock, The Stereohoax kept the crowd entertained with such tracks as “Awesome Without You.”
Nothing could prepare me for what I witnessed while watching USS. Bands of mixed up acoustic guitars and elements of electronica have existed since the rave scene exploded across England in the late eighties and early nineties, but none have done it as well as USS. Not since Weezer has a band made being dorky so cool. For god’s sake, Albert Einstein is almost a third member in this outrageous duo. Highlights included tracks like Hollow Point Sniper Hyperbole and 2 and 15 16ths. These guys burned off too much energy and rocked too hard to be on at 1:30 in the afternoon.
The last time I saw MBMG was during NXNE and it was a bit of a sloppy performance. However, their performance at Edgefest was like night and day. The band was tight and full of energy that we did not see in their performance at The Boat. Whatever problems plagued them and whatever kinks they had to work out were a distant memory after the first riff they played. Finally the garage rock like track MyBabySaysBoyDontYouEverGo sounded the way it is supposed to live.
Attack In Black
Welland outfit Attack In Black seems to be making a name for themselves in Indie circles. For the most part it’s apparent why. They have catchy riffs, good vocal hooks, great musicians and a look that screams too Indie for Indie. However, the set seemed uninspired and despondent. Listening back to their MySpace, they may deserve a second chance.
Montreal band Creature are part punk, part funk, with a splash of Prince and a twist of electro, with just a hint of soul. To sum them up into one word would be "Awesome." Throw this band on at any house party and you will be the official DJ for the night. Definitely catch this band next time they roll through town.
Its easy to see why Ashes Divide are on the Projekt Revolution tour with Linkin Park after their Edgefest appearance. They are a group confused as to whether they want to play Nu Metal or Emo and fail to do either right. At times they were great but then they would just get too soft and sappy.
Toronto’s Sweet Thing are catchy as fuck and have a great sense of humour. Even if you hate powerpop you will have no choice but to clap along or belt out the occasional "Da da da da." Songs like “Change of Seasons” will be your guilty little pleasure and you will hope no one ever finds it on your iPod. They may only have only recorded one EP, but if Sweet Thing keeps writing and performing the way they do they should be making waves in no time.
Dance rock band The Bravery played great tracks of their albums The Sun And The Moon and their self-titled album. Even though they really can’t sing in tune with each other live (reminded me of the scene in Spinal Tap when they visit Elvis’ grave) it really didn’t matter. They would have played a flawless set if it wasn’t for the fact that halfway through it rained like a tropical storm. But really can they be blamed for that.
Toronto band The Coast is a decent enough band. It just seemed like they were a bit of a comedown from the energy of the previous acts. Musically they would make a great soundtrack for a movie montage at the end of an event where the characters are spending their time reflecting back. They are definitely a great chill out band or something you would throw on at the end of a party.
Sam Roberts band
What can I say about Sam Roberts…I didn’t care in 2002 and I care even less in 2008.
My apologies to Toronto Punk band Hostage Life, but we were unable to catch their set due to an interview. However, check out the interview we did with them later in the day which should be up shortly. We’ll have to catch them next time they play. For now check out their MySpace.
Stone Temple Pilots
Anyone who went through the Grunge/Alternative scene of the mid nineties would have been excited as shit to see the reformation of STP. Problematic singer Scott Weiland broke away from Velvet Revolver and his love of Heroin for long enough to bring them on a North American tour and what a better venue then one put on by the radio station that helped break them in Toronto. For an hour and a half STP played crowd favourite after crowd favourite spanning all their singles over a decades worth of albums. Toronto fans got a big "Fuck You" by STP when Scott announced they were going to play a new song they wrote, which turned out to be a bar of kick and snare drum. The performance was really phoned in, but with a band of their caliber, no one seemed to care.
Recorded and in controlled circumstances Toronto Punk band The Flatliners are everything right with Punk music. Live at Edgefest though, they where sloppy, too fast and the sound was too muddy. Perhaps the sound guy on the second stage had given up by this point. Either way I’ll have to give them a second chance and hope they grow on me.
I really had no idea how Linkin Park out billed STP until I saw and heard the crowd when they got on stage. A thousand more people must have shown up only to see Linkin Park and the crowd was out of control. I for one can’t stand them and found it to be a perfect opportunity to sneak out before getting lost in the mass exodus of those leaving after their set.