Virgin Festival 2008, Saturday Afternoon
|11-Sep-2008 12:40 AM||Contributed by: pete||Concert Reviews|
A two day festival, in four parts. This is part one: Saturday Afternoon.
Virgin Festival in Toronto takes place on Toronto Island Park, which is really two separate islands, with the main Virgin Mobile Stage setup on Olympic Island and the two other stages, the TD Music Stage and the Oh Henry! Stage on Centre Island.
This was the third Virgin Festival in Toronto, and my third time attending, although each year I've attended in a different capacity. In 2006, I was a ticket-holding fan-boy that went with friends, took a few photos with my point and shoot, and had a great time. In 2007, I sold my son out for an all-access pass, saw very few bands, but had a great time. This year, I went as media, effectively alone but ran into lots of people I knew, photographed 19 bands, was treated brilliantly by Virgin, and... absolutely had a great time.
I woke up bright and early on the Saturday intending to hop on my bike, ride over to the ferry docks and attend a media pre-festival thing hosted by Virgin. But when I got up, it was raining and I hadn't really planned on that. I didn't want to get my back wet from bike-tire-spray, so I held out until the rain stopped. I still got to the island with plenty of time to spare before the first band, but I did miss the media thing in which Richard Branson made a short appearance. Too bad for me, but at least I didn't get my back wet, right? Riiiight?!?
MardeenMy original plan was to head over to the Oh Henry! Stage and say hello to the band members of We Are The Take before their set at 2 PM, but on the ferry ride over, I met someone from Quarry Records who convinced me to come see one of their artists, Mardeen, on the TD Music Stage starting at 1:45 PM. I figured I could stick around for a few songs and still make it over to We Are The Take for their full set. So I did exactly that. I hung around for three melodic songs, two of which sounded pretty darn good; definitely East-coast indie-rock with some similarity to Two Hours Traffic and maybe a bit of Joel Plaskett.
Info & Connect: Mardeen on MySpace, Facebook
We Are The TakeFortunately, the TD Music Stage and the Oh Henry! Stage were relatively close because as I headed over to see We Are The Take, I could hear them starting their set. They opened with Dreams, which is still my favourite of theirs, especially live, and worked their way through a short but probably their best crafted set list I've heard to date. The searing guitar and power of Dreams drew people over to the stage, and the audience grew to a really good size over the course of the set. We Are The Take are one of my favourite local bands at the moment, and it was great to see so many people there getting into their music, and even a group of fans waiting for autographs afterwards.
Info & Connect: We Are The Take on MySpace, Facebook
The Midway StateI'm not quite sure how it is that I haven't seen or photographed The Midway State until now since they've played multiple concerts with illScarlett, but whatever the reason, that's just the way it is (I double-checked, just in case). They even opened the show when I went to photograph illScarlett with Avril Lavigne, but I didn't see manage to see them perform that night either. I'm so impressed with the number of really good Toronto bands that are surfacing, and these guys did a great job, with a stage presence that is bound to attract a good number of both male and female listeners... but probably skewed a little more toward the females.
Info: The Midway State | Connect: MySpace, Facebook
The Saint Alvia CartelLocal ska-punk rockers The Saint Alvia Cartel always do a decent job tearing up the stage. They have a new CD called Between The Lines that was released yesterday, and although I haven't heard it myself, the rumour is that it is a departure from their first album, overall. I didn't take notes during the set, and I can't remember for sure, but I think they played at least a few new songs. Either way, the set exhibited more pure rock than ska-punk, which worked well for me.
Info: The Saint Alvia Cartel | Connect: MySpace, Facebook
Shudder To ThinkShudder To Think formed in Washington D.C. back in 1986 and disbanded in 1998. Since then guitarist Nathan Larson formed the band Hot One, which also includes the intimidatingly charismatic Emm Gryner. In late 2007, Shudder To Think got back together for a show in New York which seems to have spawned a short reunion tour that included playing at Virgin Festival in both Baltimore and Toronto. I really wasn't sure what to expect from a short-run reunion tour from a band that I didn't really notice the first time around, but it's fair to say that I experienced that moment where my brain switched from apprehension to enjoyment. Clearly skilled musicians playing interesting music made me wonder why I wasn't paying attention to them before. After Shudder To Think, I finally headed over to the main stage for the Constantines... coming soon in part 2.
Info & Connect: Shudder To Think on MySpace, Facebook
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