Virgin Festival '09 Ontario - Sunday (Photos and Reviews)
10-Sep-2009 05:00 am
Contributed by: pete
The Sunday of V-Fest Ontario turned out to be a fairly cool day that turned into a cold evening, but you had to know that there was no way the weather was going to keep away the masses for the last Nine Inch Nails show in Canada. I arrived a little later than I did on Saturday, and given the fullness of the parking lot and bike count outside the gates, I was surprised to find the same level of sparseness to the crowd that I had seen the day before. Honestly, I had expected it to fill in early, but I guess with the designated seating, fans who bought tickets just to see NIN didn't think there was enough incentive to arrive early. They were wrong.
It's not often that you see someone duct taping anything to their head, so there was a bit of noise from the crowd while Darren King (drums) duct taped his headset-style hearing protection to his head while the band was preparing for their set. It's not a gimmick, exactly, since after seeing them play there is no doubt that the headset would have gone flying from his head were it not strapped on, but he did use it as a prop of sorts later in the set.
It wouldn't be right to say the set started out calm, but compared to how the set ended, it did start out relatively normal. MuteMath has a few songs from their last album that I really like, such as Typical, Obsolete, and You Are Mine, and so I was looking forward to seeing them play, but I had no idea exactly what kind of performers they were. It was insane. As they moved from song to song, the band built up more and more energy... it was pretty amazing just at that, but then it went further.
Paul Meany (vocals, piano, keytar) started leaning into his piano while he played, kicking his feet up behind him. He did it a few times, kicking higher and higher, until he actually did a flip right over the piano, landed it, turned around and leapt back over to continue playing. It was wild. The show ended with Darren King ripping his headset off, tape and all, and partially dismantling his drum set, taking a piece and climbing onto said piano to play it while Meany took over on what was left of the kit. The entire band descended on the kit to pound out the ending of the song. The most amazing part of all this was that the band sounded excellent. Incredible set! Remind me to listen to more MuteMath.
Info: MuteMath | Connect: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter
Media: Typical (video), Spotlight (video)
Cold War Kids
I've heard a few songs from the Cold War Kids before, but couldn't really remember what they sounded like. The band was in the undesirable position of having to follow MuteMath, arguably the best non-headliner act of the weekend. Nathan Willett (lead vocals, piano, guitar) makes an appropriate front-man, and the band plays out some decent tunes, but his high pitched semi-screamy vocals started to get to me a little before they were done. Still, one or two songs stood out from the others, explaining their presence in the line-up.
Info: Cold War Kids | Connect: MySpace, Twitter
Media: Hospital Beds (mp3, video), Something Is Not Right With Me (video)
The main stage at the festival was almost entirely filled with rock and alternative acts that I was previously familiar with, so I when I didn't recognize the band name N.E.R.D., I wasn't too surprised to discover they were a hip-hop outfit. Although there was some initial apprehension to participate by a number of people in general admission area, the band worked the crowd and managed to turn a good number of them around. Part of that was a result inviting up a few people on stage, and then more, and then more, turning the stage into a big party.
Info: N.E.R.D. | Connect: MySpace, Twitter
Media: Rock Star (video)
Our Lady Peace
Raine Maida (vocals, guitar) and the rest of Our Lady Peace were looking much more styled and slick than the last few times I've seen them out and about. Although the set included some new songs, including their current hit All You Did Was Save My Life, they made it clear that they weren't there just to promote their new album; the rest of the set was pretty much a string of crowd-pleasing hits, emphasizing just how many of their songs have actually become hits over the years. It's hard not to like Our Lady Peace, they performed like pros, and with Maida meandering out into the crowd during one song, the audience responded strongly to their show.
Info: Our Lady Peace | Connect: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter
Media: All You Did Was Save My Life (video)
Over on the Boardwalk Stage, the Detroit-based Von Bondies were setting up. I've had them on my radar for a while, but haven't managed to get out to any of their Toronto shows. The boardwalk packed up, with people on all sides of the tiny, tent-covered stage. The band had asked the organizers to build a small riser so more people could see, and I'm sure lots of people were glad they did because the band tore it up. It was a fun, energetic, performance of short, tight rock. I'm not even sure that I liked all the music, but it didn't really matter... it was a rock show that was made for being there. I really like that V-Fest has multiple stages, because getting to see bands like this makes it worth it.
Info: Von Bondies | Connect: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter
Media: Pale Bride (mp3)
Pet Shop Boys
Once the 80's ended and the popularity of Nirvana changed the face of music, I honestly thought I wouldn't ever have to hear the Pet Shop Boys again. But the truth is that the music that is popular when you are growing up will end up being played back at you throughout your life. While the Pet Shop Boys played through their first song, lots of adjectives came to mind, but I think I'll keep those to myself right now. Truth is, the show was visually stunning in an [overly] artistic sort of way, and credit should be given for putting together something that is so out of the ordinary. But as the set progressed, with dancing buildings, colorful chorus lines, and interpretive dancers, it started to feel a bit like Broadway to me. I really wondered why Virgin Festival dropped Pet Shop Boys on stage just before Nine Inch Nails, but Alan Cross pointed out that Trent Reznor was a huge techno-pop fan, providing him with inspiration to play synthesizers. So I guess it made sense.
Info: Pet Shop Boys | Connect: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter
Media: West End Girls (video), It's A Sin (video)
Plants and Animals
Back over at the Boardwalk Stage, Plants and Animals were setting up, but not under the small red tent. Instead they had asked the crew to set them up outside, and the people working the stage made their wish come true. This in itself tells you a little about how V-Fest is run; the people that work there try hard to make sure everyone is taken care of and happy. It's one of the reasons I like to be there. Anyway, there they were, setting up outside, and only a couple of lights made it out with them, neither of them shining on Matthew Woodley (drums, vocals) and his fluid actions. The band put on a more spirited show (even if slightly more sloppy) than the last two times I've seen them, but so many of their songs from Parc Avenue have become a part of my regular listening habits that it was satisfying to see them again. I really like that album and love hearing those songs performed live.
Info: Plants and Animals | Connect: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter
Media: Bye Bye Bye (mp3)
Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor has probably saved countless teenage minds with his music, but I was not one of them. Most of the time, I find the lyrics grating and the compositions a little too repetitive, and yet it's hard not to like his vocals and melodies. Over the years it has become clear that Reznor is not just a musician, but also a bit of a music business visionary. The last NIN album, The Slip, has been released for free download under a creative commons license, which legally allows both sharing a remixing of the music, with some conditions applied. Similarly, a portion of the previous album, Ghosts I-IV, was also released for download. To say Reznor is an interesting dude would be an understatement.
Although I wasn't really planning to stick around for the NIN set, I had one remaining beer ticket left, so I cashed it in and took my first sip while Reznor took the stage. I can't tell you how fast I went from mild curiosity to being heavily impressed. Actually, I can tell you... it took just over one song, because it was part way through the second song when Reznor turned up the energy level and pulled the entire mindset of crowd toward him. By the third song, he was smashing instruments. Big lights, big vocals, big energy, and from the portion of the show I saw, it was a huge performance. Would I go see NIN again? Yes, if I was permitted to photograph (which I wasn't this time around). Except too bad for me, since this was apparently the last NIN concert in Canada, ever.
What a great weekend.
Info: Nine Inch Nails | Connect: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter
Media: The Slip (download), Ghosts I-IV (download)