12 must-see concerts in Toronto this July
The top Toronto concerts for July begin with some humble music charity and end with a big, decadent rap fest, courtesy of our ever-present city mascot. Despite June's disappointments, from an underwhelming NXNE to frustrating cancellations (At the Drive-In's was to be expected, but Grandmaster Flash? This is your third reschedule!), we have plenty to forge ahead with this month.
Festival-goers still have options this season - stay within city limits to get your EDM fill at Digital Dreams and Veld, or road trip out to WayHome or Osheaga. For one-offs, you can also enjoy a month of "what year is this?" thanks to Duran Duran, Lisa Loeb, Violent Femmes and a Slipknot/Marilyn Manson team-up.
Otherwise, here are my top picks for July's concert schedule.
No Borders Kitchen Benefit (July 1, The Garrison)
Back in January, a bunch of Toronto acts got together to throw a Syrian refugee benefit concert at The Garrison. It looks like its success has inspired a second round for Canada Day, this time sending proceeds to Lifeline Syria and featuring the likes of Sean Nicholas Savage, Cadence Weapon and more.
Queen's Plate (July 3, Woodbine Race Track)
As the oldest thoroughbread horse race in the country, the Queen's Plate is an odd place for a concert, or to find anyone under the age of 60. But new programming for 2016 is bringing in The Strumbellas, Matthew Good and Hedley to perform, so here's your chance to wear an ornate fascinator to a rock show (with fewer weird looks than usual).
Big Business (July 4, Velvet Underground)
The Melvins' rhythm section is readying their fifth LP as stoner-sludge duo Big Business. Command Your Weather comes out officially July 8, but you can see them four days earlier at the intimate Velvet Underground.
Weezer and Panic! at the Disco (July 6, Molson Amphitheatre)
Weezer, the boys you just can't quit no matter how hard you want to, put out their most recent self-titled release this spring, as have Panic! at the Disco. Rivers Cuomo even co-wrote a song with the latter, so in kind, the pair have teamed up for a summer tour.
Nicole Dollanganger (July 7, Smiling Buddha)
After years of making haunting bedroom pop in her childhood Stouffville home, Nicole Dollanganger finally began venturing out to build a wider audience last year, when Grimes helped put out her first studio album and brought her on tour. Catch her headline an eclectic bill with lo-fi suburbanites Chastity and heavy experimentalists Drofnosura.
Noise Against Sexual Assault (July 10, Double Double Land)
Considering the recent rape allegations made against frontman Michael Gira (and him not exactly denying it), it's mystifying that Swans would proceed with a tour right now - doubly so that venues like the Danforth would book it. But thanks to a new Toronto collective, noise fans have a safe-space alternative to the July 10 gig over at Double Double Land, with Baby Cages, Doom Tickler and more.
Life and Death Tour 2016 (July 10, Velvet Underground)
Stuck in the City just unveiled their packed lineup for Not Dead Yet 2016 last week, but if October feels like an eternity away, scratch your hardcore itch with this show for now. Fantastically loud bands such as Terror, Harm's Way and Power Trip will help ruin your eardrums forever at Velvet Underground.
Road to Warped Tour (July 12, Phoenix)
If you're an angsty teen with a dyed uppercut at heart, you're likely devastated at Warped Tour's decision to skip Canada this year. But the next best thing is this "pre-party" at the Phoenix - see Courage My Love and Crystalyne along with battle-of-the-band winners, and buy tickets there to Warped's Buffalo date if you're willing to cross the border for the real thing.
Guns N' Roses (July 16, Rogers Centre)
I know this is the day GNR fans have prayed at least a decade to see, but let's manage expectations; there's been a lot of rioting, unfortunate meming and distracting hair plugs since the OG lineup's heyday. But early reviews have been positive, so as long as they don't show up hours late or cancel the night of the 16th, it should be one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
The Coathangers (July 16, Silver Dollar)
A decade into existence, garage punk trio The Coathangers have been gradually diversifying their musical palette and generating increasingly catchy -- dare I say, sophisticated? -- tunes. Likely an electric set, their upcoming show comes in support of new LP Nosebleed Weekend.
The Julie Ruin (July 18, Lee's Palace)
It's always a good thing when Kathleen Hanna resurfaces. The punk icon's infectiously fun band The Julie Ruin is set to release sophomore album Hit Reset July 8, and the associated tour will bring them by for a night at Lee's.
OVO (July 29, 31 & August 1, Molson Amphitheatre/ACC)
The hottest hip hop ticket this month (sorry, Riff Raff) is Drake's much-anticipated annual bash, which is actually a combo of two hip hop tours this time. First, Snoop and Wiz Khalifa hit the Amphitheatre for "The High Road Tour" (heh); then, Drizzy and Future's "Summer Sixteen" takes over the ACC. As always, expect hella surprise guests, and probably Norm somehow.
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