Last weekend Toronto was taken over by Arts and Crafts second annual Field Trip music festival. What started out as a celebration of a decade of amazing music for the Canadian indie label has turned into an annual affair, to the delight of music industry types and music lovers alike.
The Saturday of Fieldtrip was a picture perfect day for an outdoor music festival. The sun was shining, the grounds were filling with people and there was tons to see, hear, do, drink and eat all around Fort York and Garrison commons. My soundtrack as I entered the grounds was the mind bending and goosebump inducing music of The Darcys, the fading sounds of choice cuts from their Warring album swirling around my head as I entrusted my metal steed (ie my second hand bicycle) with the fine folks of Cycle TO and their free bike valet. My penchant for lateness thwarted my attempt to actually see the stylish Toronto band with my eyes as well as hearing them with my ears, but there was much in the way of music for me to take in as the day went on.
Arts and Crafts has a diverse roster and many friends in music, making the lineup a veritable buffet for music lovers’ ears: there was something for everyone, no matter how your musical tastes run. I spent most of the day discovering new music to love, including the stunning sounds of Toronto’s Austra on the Garrison stage. Characterized by lead singer Katie Stelmanis’s incredible vocals, punctuated by uptempo beats, grounded by deeply soulful yet fun and poppy melodies, it was impossible to keep still while the band was on stage. Over at the Fort York stage I decided to take in the fucking amazing hip hop stylings of Shad. A Toronto treasure, I was thrilled to hear his conscious and humour tinged rhymes, set to fantastic booty shaking beats. My favourite part of Shad’s performance was how visibly he loves his craft. The smile never left his face the entire time he was on stage, which left me and much of the crowd smiling just as wide and for just as long. It’s tragic that this gem of a rapper is still relegated to early set times at festivals and a distinct lack of mainstream radio play, because, to be crude, he is fucking awesome and deserves better. Drake, eat your heart out.
Another band rightfully stealking thunder from their lamer genre mates was Half Moon Run. I’ve heard this band of brothers compared to the likes of Alt J which to me is an absolute travesty. Confident and energetic stage presence, beautiful harmonies, and some great instrumental multitasking make Half Moon Run a joy to watch. From one cute band of boys to another, I moseyed back over to the Fort York stage to catch Australian Vance Joy (aka James Keogh), whose single “Riptide” is one of my favorite songs of the moment. From his sweetly accented voice, his mop of curls and adorable overall demeanor, I couldn’t decide whether to cuddle or crush on him. But of one thing I was certain: his music. Sweet, simple and heartfelt, Vance Joy makes music that the world needs more of. It lifts the spirits, creates smiles and infuses joy in anyone within earshot.
As a fan of fantastic female fronted bands, it was mandatory for me to rush back to the Garrison Stage to catch The Kills set. Allison Mossheart and Jamie Hence just ooze the essence of rock and roll, from the roots of Mossheart’s bleach blonde hair to the heels of Hence’s kickass boots. Rough and rude guitar riffs, powerful and primal vocals and enough raw energy flowing off the stage to power all of Toronto; the Kills were mesmerizing. Add in the cool factor of their stylish chorus of perfectly in sync drummers and how much more awesome Mossheart gets the second she picks up a guitar, and the Kills were right up there as one of the best performances of the day.
The last act I absolutely had to check out was A Tribe Called Red, and HOLY SHIT. I’m not usually one to be thrilled by DJs, though I do recognize their talents, but something about the energy flowing off the stage, the exciting, surprising and SICK combination of beats that DJs Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau, Dan “DJ Shub” General and Bear Witness put together with the power of their Macbooks and the stellar Field trip sound systems completely blew me away. I was dancing up a storm while snapping photos of the crew, so excuse the blurriness below. I will be making it a point to take some time off and dedicate a night of dancing at the next Tribe Called Red show. Juno well earned, and upcoming fame eagerly awaited for these Canadian treasures in the making.
Stay tuned for part two of my Field Trip Festival review soon!
all photos by Nadia Elkharadly