Wavelength Concert Series to Be Revamped After 10th Anniversary Festival
This Sunday, the Garrison will host Wavelength Music Arts Projects' 500th weekly show -- a milestone celebrating the amazing longevity of the series, which will be reformatted after a five-night anniversary festival leading up to the final PWYC concert.
Having provided artist-focused, grassroots promotion for independent musicians in Toronto over the past decade, Wavelength has remained true to its DIY ethos and has fostered the growth of local talent from the ground up. The 10th anniversary of the series represents its rebirth -- making way for the new, as-yet-to-be-determined format that Wavelength will take in the future.
"We didn't want to just keep putting shows on indefinitely and let Wavelength slowly become irrelevant or routine for us," explains series programmer Kevin Parnell.
The PWYC series started at Ted's Wrecking Yard on February 13, 2000 before settling at Sneaky Dee's in May 2002 after a brief stint at Lee's Palace. Since October 2009, the Garrison has played host to the Sunday shows, though Wavelength have thrown several special events at various unconventional venues around the city.
For the Wavelength crew, branching outside of their regular Sunday night shows for special presentations "added a whole new level to what we're doing and really made us think about the types of things we could do beyond a weekly showcase."
Parnell claims the new format "is sort of up in the air. Right now it looks like it'll be special events, which we'll try to make happen each month or so."
Their 2010 calendar is already starting to fill up, with the Images Festival in April, another ALL CAPS! Island show at the Artscape Gibraltar Centre in the works and a Theremin focused show similar to 2007's Kalimba Summit coming up this year.
"Having everything open up like this after WL500 is really exciting for all of us," says Parnell. "I think it's almost overwhelming when we start talking about the kinds of shows we want to present now. As programmers we want to see what else we can do with Wavelength now, keep it exciting for us and the audience and the artists."
Evening Hymns - 'Dead Deer' at Wavelength 452 (by Colin Medley)
So what will differentiate Wavelength from the commercial promoters (Collective, REMG, Emerge, etc.) in the city? Co-Founder Jonny Dovercourt asserts that WL "will be more pointedly trying to connect international or touring artists with the local community, either through carefully curated opening acts, or actively encouraging them to collaborate with local artists.
"We want our favourite artists' shows in Toronto to be a special experience for them and their audience, not just another stop on their North American tour."
Parnell also notes that the local scene has flourished in the past decade. "There are now a bunch of really great ground level promoters doing exactly what Wavelength set out to when there was no one. Now there are plenty of amazing opportunities for new bands to play and put on shows."
While the Sunday night tradition calls it quits at 500 shows showcasing well over a thousand artists, it's comforting to know that Toronto has plenty to look forward to from Wavelength.
"Ten years in and the initial inspiration still reigns strong. If Toronto keeps making amazing music, we'll find a way for you to hear it."
Matt Hart of The Russian Futurists will play the second night of the festival, where he believes they'll be debuting new material in an ideal environment. "Wavelength is pretty much the perfect place to unveil new things. Whether it's new songs, new bands or new ideas, Wavelength has always been the place to be on Sunday nights."
The 10th anniversary celebration takes place across five nights at five different venues, with five bands performing at each show. The line-up features a handful of bands that have reunited for the special occasion, including Rockets Red Glare, The Bicycles and From Fiction.
"I think it's a testament to Wavelength's impact on our music community that it must've meant something pretty important for bands who haven't played in seven years to agree to relearn their songs and perform for only one night. That's just really humbling."
Check blogTO throughout the week for daily photo updates from Wavelength 500.
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