It could be because it's into its 14th year, or maybe because it hinges around Valentine's Day weekend, but this year we're more enamoured of the Wavelength Music Festival, the annual blowout from the Toronto indie music community-builders, than ever.
1. Women who rock
The lineup, one of the fest's best, happens to be dominated by powerhouse women. For example: guitar phenom Marnie Stern; 60s-inspired one-woman show Meghan Remy, aka US Girls; psychedelic songwriter Petra Glynt. And female-fronted acts include Montreal indie soft rockers TOPS (Jane Penny), local sax-fuelled synth-poppers DIANA (Carmen Elle), punky garage/R&B four-piece Weaves (Jasmyn Burke) and one-half of indie electro-pop duo Phèdre (April Aliermo).
2. It's affordable
Sure, you can pick and choose your shows for $10 to $25 apiece. But the best value (if you're around the whole long weekend) is an all-show pass for $49. Covering over 24 acts, that works out to... well, you do the math. For the truly skint: free in-stores at both June Records (662 College) and Sonic Boom (782 Bathurst) on Saturday and Sunday (February 15 and 16) respectively.
3. Locally sourced
Wavelength has reeled in acts from Montreal, Halifax and the United States, but just as many are Toronto artists who live and work here. There's even a discussion on "The Toronto Music Moment" on Sunday (February 16) at Sonic Boom. City councillor Josh Colle, Wavelength founder Jonny Dovercourt, author Dalton Higgins, artistic director Nadine McNulty and singer/songwriter Noah Mintz weigh in, followed by a free show featuring Ark Analog, Mexican Slang and Evelyn Mukwedeya & Memory Makuri.
4. It's weird
Underground music champions Weird Canada are feting the launch of their new online, not-for-profit distribution outlet Wyrd Distro on Saturday (February 15) at June Records - a real win for artists and consumers alike. Founders Marie Claire Flanagan and Aaron Levin talk, and local analog electro master Carl Didur provides the jams.
5. It's more romantic than you'd think
The fest provides a nice alternative to the overplayed flowers-and-chocolates route. And if being packed into intimate, sweaty venues with the city's realest music lovers isn't enough, how about these for alt-romantic tunes?
For a mini sexy-time soundtrack, try out London, Ontario's, ambient pop duo You'll Never Get to Heaven's sweet, muddled ditty You've Got The Sun; indie pop man Alden Penner's ultra-sensuous Precession; and Phèdre's Aphrodite ode Love Ablaze. Plus, a festival with this much sax - yes, sax - thanks to DIANA and Saturday-night headliner Colin Stetson, is bound to get everyone falling in love.