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Virgin Festival, Day 2

13-Sep-2006 05:30 AM Contributed by: pete Concert Reviews
Virgin Festival, Day 2
September 10, 2006
Toronto Island Park in Toronto, Ontario
Review and Photos by: Pete Nema

Full photo set: Virgin Festival, Day 2
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What happened to Day 1, you ask? Good question! So, anyway, Day 2 of the Virgin Festival was a sunny and slightly cool day. Almost the perfect weather to be spending the day in a very large crowd of people. My friends and I managed to get out to the ferry docks for about 2:30 PM, which is over an hour and a half after the festival started. The bands we completely missed include The Diableros and We Are Wolfs. I'm sure all the bands we missed were excellent, but I was really there to see Wolfmother, Sam Roberts, and The Raconteurs. We arrived on Centre Island close to 3 PM, just in time to hear the last song of the Born Ruffians.

Even though we had just arrived, a short break was in order so we headed over to the beer garden. While we were just polishing off our first beers, Matt Mays & El Torpedo started up on the Future Shop Stage. They played a mere 30 minute set, barely enough to get into them. I've heard of Matt Mays, but wasn't familiar with any of the songs. It was straight on rock and roll, maybe even leaning towards country rock. Definitely a solid performance, but not awe inspiring in any way. Enjoyable. Just what I needed to warm me up for Wolfmother.

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Andy Patil
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Rob Crowell
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Matt Mays


4:10 PM - Wolfmother

Wolfmother was scheduled to start at the Virgin Mobile Stage at 4:35 PM, so when Matt Mays & El Torpedo left the Future Shop stage, we thought we had more than enough time to put back one more beverage and still have time to hike over to the main stage. But after only a few sips, the heavy sound of Wolfmother came blasting through the air from Olympic Island. No kidding, they came on over 20 minutes early. I'm not exactly sure why, but it could've been an attempt to get ahead of schedule so that Saturday's fiasco of cutting the headlining band off after only 4 songs could be avoided.

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Andrew and Chris
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Using The Monitor Speakers
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Chris Attacks His Keyboard

Once on Olympic Island, we politely squeezed our way to the front to get the best view possible of this big-haired band. I got my first taste of Wolfmother when they opened for The Flaming Lips back in April. This trio is both hilarious and amazing all at the same time; one part Black Sabbath, one part Spinal Tap, one part big fat sound. Andrew Stockdale (vocals/guitar) uses the stage well - wandering around, kneeling occasionally, and even lying across the monitor speakers, with his big hair always screaming out his location like a furry beacon. Chris Ross (bass/organ) is the most active keyboard player I've ever seen, swinging his keyboard around with one hand while he plays with the other. At one point, he climbed up onto the drum kit and leapt down, basically attacking his keyboard, just in time to meet his mark. Stunts like that are what make their stage show so great to watch.

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Portrait of Big Hair
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Andrew Plays It Big
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Now It's Really Getting Heavy

A couple of songs after stating that "Toronto is one of our favourite cities", Andrew declared "Now were really going to get heavy". And they did. You can't help but laugh when these guys are on stage. Not in a nasty way, I mean the good kind of laughter from their showmanship and big 70's sound. If you're like me, this band grows on you with every inch Andrew grows his hair.


5:30 PM - Sam Roberts

Next on our schedule was Sam Roberts. And once again the band started about 20 minutes early. Roberts is a jeans-and-white-t-shirt guitar player with passion and seriousness to his act. He showed up at V-Fest relatively clean shaven compared to other appearances I've seen of his. I am familiar with a lot of Sam Roberts' songs and the onstage versions were what you would expect from a band that is so centred around the electric guitar. There was a lot of jumping, soloing, and general rock and roll euphoria.

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Two Lead Guitars
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Sam's Euphoria
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Montreal Passion

As would be expected, Roberts was definitely the one to watch on the stage whether he was singing, preaching, or playing lead guitar. But there are, in fact, two lead guitars and second lead is played by Dave Nugent, who constantly appeared to be in a state of guitar ecstasy. He definitely used the full freedom of the large stage to showcase his obvious life-long relationship with the guitar. This band has the passion of Montreal in their blood, and it comes through with every note.


6:50 PM - The Strokes

The Stokes are an interesting band because they seem to be widely liked and have a sizable fan base, but to me most of their music seems a little too plain. Not bad, just average. I guess it just doesn't hit me right. So, I wasn't in a hurry to get over to the stage when they came on, but we made it over there after the first two or three songs. I don't mind the song that's currently getting radio airplay, so I thought I might enjoy their set. But Julian Casablancas has even less vocal dynamic range on stage than he does in The Stokes' studio recordings.

The band is definitely a team of professionals, but I just couldn't get into it - the monotony of vocals started to get to me. And it seemed that they overstayed their welcome on stage, causing the schedule to shift from being about 15 minutes early to being over 20 minutes late. I would've definitely preferred if Wolfmother had been given this longer slot.


8:40 PM - The Raconteurs

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Jack White
With the main stage now running 20 minutes late, The Raconteurs started up around 8:40 PM with an entrance that caused the crowd to push a little more forward. Visually, Brendan Benson and Jack White provide an interesting contrast; Brendan dressed somewhat country/western, while White wears jet black pants, t-shirt, and messy black hair. But musically, the combination works so well. I have The Raconteurs CD and I enjoy it, so I knew I wanted to see them, but I wasn't prepared for exactly how good they were going to be on stage. They were a powerhouse.

Jack Lawrence played a noticeably heavy and brilliant bass line while Benson and White worked together on the guitars on a string of songs that built up over time. In addition to their hits, they played a few covers including Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down). By the end of the set I was as pumped full of rock as I could take in a 24 hour period, and resigned myself to leaving the grounds before Broken Social Scene came on.


9:50 PM - Broken Social Scene

I saw Broken Social Scene earlier this year and although I'm not an enormous fan of their studio recordings, their concert was one of the best concerts I've ever seen. So I really should've stuck around to see them again. But my endurance isn't what it used to be, and after The Raconteurs I was ready to go. As we boarded the ferry to get back to downtown Toronto, we could hear Broken Social Scene on stage. I'm sure we missed an amazing set. Hopefully I will be able to catch them again some other time.

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Virgin Festival, Day 2
Authored by: Anonymous on 19-Sep-2006 02:39 AM
Apparently one of the bands did not play (or show up?) so the sets were mostly early. Not everyone from the Strokes camp was on the island to start early so the set times went back to the original, poorly planned, slots. BSS got cut off.
Glad I did not brave the marketing assault disguised as a music fest... though it sounds like the Raconteurs were good.
Virgin Festival, Day 2
Authored by: Anonymous on 19-Sep-2006 05:22 PM
Eh Guy...
Sorry to hear that I missed such a debacule of a bull-shat...
Great review though, I would loved to seen raconteurs.
Keep it up
-HATTERe