Drone musicians set to rumble in Toronto this weekend
Drone music mania is sweeping our nation's underground as Canada's first National Drone Day takes place this Saturday, May 10. The weekend will see multiple super chill (it's drone, after all) events booked across the country, including three different zones for drones in Toronto. National Drone Day is the love child of the power couple behind the Weird Canada blog and their ambitious Wyrd Arts Initiatives - remember that $50K nationwide distro for indie music? Yup, they did that too.
Thirteen shows in total are confirmed so far for May 10 across Canada, and apparently six more are in the works in locales as far as Yukon and Iqaluit. Each event represents a different historical facet - or dare I say scene - of drone music (itself a very vague blanket definition for a wide spectrum of experimental sounds). The fact that a niche "holiday" like this has already birthed three separate events in Toronto speaks louder than any Canadian Music Week keynote speaker could to our city's diverse music scene.
"I came up with the idea while making soup," said Weird Canada's Marie Flanagan. "I get so nauseous over these empty holidays and thinly veiled consumer-celebrations - I wanted a day that I could get behind." And she's not the only one. Constellation Records' Graham Latham has made a drone mix to commemorate the day, and the hopes are the buzz will spread and more Drone Day events will come about with each passing year. "Drone draws together a community of people who refuse the binary," said Flanagan, "a group who otherwise might have little in common."
Here's how to celebrate the inaugural holiday (grab a pal or attend only the dronely) in Toronto.
In Toronto the sonic explorations are being launched by weathered mainstay promoters The Ambient Ping, who have been promoting ambient music (the older cousin and close personal friend of drone) events since 2000. The Ping's show suitably takes place at experimental haven Array Space during the afternoon and features 20-year ambient veterans dreamSTATE performing a trance inducing two hour set with visual accompaniment. This is the original old school drone, possibly best suited for the chin scratchers. 2:30-4:30pm, Array Space (155 Walnut Avenue).
At the Tranzac in the Annex come evening, Jesse Locke and Colin Fisher have culled together a bill of underground droners that have been taking street-level modern drone to fantastic heights - a good number of which we recently covered in our highly controversial top 5 Toronto drone artists list. The sounds at this event are the ones which gave drone its definitive place outside of not only electronic music, but ambient, new age and noise: bleak and confrontational (Panic Engines), sorrowful and beautiful (Black Walls, Moonwood), drugged and hypnotic (Man Made Hill, Hobo Cubes) or mechanical and architectural (Hoover Party). 6pm, Tranzac Club (292 Brunswick Ave).
Across town at May Cafe the latest school of young drone artists will be cutting its teeth to a more current cybernetic and electronic pulse. Indeed, one performer frAncis is a member of the multi-laptop working Cybernetic Orchestra. It promises to be an event overflowing with post-everything video art (including works by Jubal Brown, Leslie Supnet, and Clint Enns) and installations, as well as a choreographed performance by Cassandra Witteman and TO hype machine and electronic champion Egyptrixx presenting A/B til Infinity. This biggie was curated on the fly by Katie Micak and Laura Dobson. 9pm, Mây (876 Dundas Street West).
The first ever National Drone Day is May 10, 2014.
Editor's note: an early version of this article stated the May show was being curated by Egyptrixx. We apologize for being so zoned out.
Writing by Kevin Hainey. Photo of Egyptrixx