The top 5 spring music festivals in Toronto for 2014
The top spring music festivals in Toronto for 2014 aren't going to let us chill on the whole music-chaos-wtf-should-I-wear are-rainboots-still-in thing until summer rolls in. Upcoming fests include the usual heavy-hitters like mass industry conference CMW and Canada's answer to Austin's SXSW, NXNE. I can gripe about certain bands not getting bookings, recognition, or the humane treatment they deserve as artists at these types of fests but the fact remains that the public, who at times view bands like Starbucks punch cards, are overjoyed just to mark some hot ticket artists off their lists of must-sees without leaving the city.
Then there's the more laid back fests like Foundry and Field Trip, plus adult (does that mean family?) friendly affairs like Luminato and CBC Music Festival.
Here are five can't-miss spring music fests, plus a few more, to mark on your calendars.
On now, Foundry's electronic music series is in its second year in Toronto, bringing together an array of international and homegrown talent for a month of dancefloor ecstasy between March 14th - April 6th. Boasting enough producers and DJs to send one into a weeklong YouTube vortex such as DJ Harvey and Shed (not to, we've picked ten unmissable acts (five Canadian and five international) that you'll want to catch over the course of the festival: check out the preview here and grab the full line up and ticket info here.
Corp-y Toronto music festival Canadian Music Week is entering its 32nd year. Between May 6-10th over 1,000 international bands and musicians of all backgrounds (from the securely established to the naive and hopeless) will perform and hustle at showcases around the city. CMW also hosts panels and conferences, a film fest, a comedy fest, and award shows. If you're career hungry and the words "music industry" don't leave a funny little taste in your mouth, get ready to shmooze. If not, it's still an opportunity to see acts like M.I.A., Tegan and Sara, City and Colour, Tasha the Amazon, and Neko Case (or to troll the city all night for yet undiscovered bands -- not to suggest many people actually do that). Buy tickets or wristbands here.
Massive and dripping with happy-go-lucky corporate ooze (and free-for-all usage of the word "culture," naturally) Luminato does bring a lot of worthy programming to Toronto each spring, and will span from June 6 - 15 this year. Aside from installations, parties, and art, dance, and theatre events the weeks will have a large, if tame, music portion -- last year's performers included Serena Ryder, k-os, and Patrick Watson. This year's line up is TBA.
Of course Field Trip is coming back for year two: Arts & Crafts made tons of people happy last year at Fork York Garrison Common. Field Trip will return to the same sod June 7th & 8th, and Broken Social Scene are playing again - shocking, I know - along with Interpol, The Kills, The Constantines (back together!), Chvches, Shad, Austra, A Tribe Called Red, and more. Field Trip also promises the most free hugs per non-EDM festival in the GTA. Various ticket packages are available here.
North by North East (like SXSW but Canadian, but possibly with the same amount of flannel shirts) will pull a ton of bands into TO from June 13 - 22, including Spoon, St. Vincent, Ryan Hemsworth, Le1f, Swans, Perfect Pussy, Spiritualized, and way more for a week of multi-venue concerts here and the usual big free shows at Yonge and Dundas Square. Festivals of this scale can be a delirious and curious experience (why would anyone book the Pizza Underground? Who are all of these no-name SonicBids bands playing shows without sound engineers?), but that's what alcohol is for. There will also be interactive panels, film, comedy, and art. Learn all about tickets and wristbands here.
- The Queen St Fest is on now (March 19 - 22) and they'll do it all over again in August. Venues like the Horseshoe, the Hideout, Cherry Colas, the Bovine, and Velvet Underground host, which should give you an idea of the sounds you can take in.
- CBC Music Festival will also return (last year they booked Monsters and Men, Sam Roberts Band, Kathleen Edwards, Sloan, and Aidan Knight), and they're promising their Echo Beach fest will be "bigger and better." Dates and line up are TBA.
- Electric Elements will go down on May 18th at Wasaga Beach. It will be like Spring Breakers but without any of the social commentary and the BO smells will be real, not implied. Benny Benassi, Adventure Club and DVBBS are on the line up.
- Kinetik Festival 7.0 promises to cover everything from electro to noise and industrial to hardcore from May 22 - 25. It all goes down at Sound Academy, which is a shame.
- Digifest will be the "World's 1st YouTube tour & music festival" and it his Echo Beach June 14th.
- The Toronto Jazz Fest is a summer affair, but we'll give it a mention for running on the cusp: the fest will span venues across the city from June 19 - 28.
Photo by Roger Cullman