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R. Jeanette Martin
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ALL CAPS! ISLAND FESTIVAL with YAMANTAKA//SONIC TITAN, A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS, TYVEK, LIONESS and many others at Artscape Gibraltar Point (443 Lakeshore, Toronto Island), Saturday and Sunday (August 11 and 12), gates 3 pm. $17, festival pass $30. RT, SS, galleryAC.com. wavelengthtoronto.com. See listing.
What's ALL CAPS! got that no other Toronto outdoor music fest has? Camping on Ward's Island, for starters.
Last year, organizers offered the sleeping-under-the-stars option for the first time, and camping passes sold out in a day. They've sold out this year, too, which is no surprise seeing as the all-ages fest, brought to us by the folks behind long-running live-music series Wavelength, is the only one within city limits that permits it.
Even if you lost your chance at tenting, the fest's unique location at Artscape Gibraltar Point on the Island means that, between taking in performances by over a dozen on-the-rise and diverse independent bands, you can go for a swim, play Frisbee in the park and relax around a bonfire as dusk descends.
But the music, of course, is the major draw. Noh-wave experimentalists and Polaris Prize short-listers Yamantaka//Sonic Titan headline the Saturday show, which is sure to be an extravaganza of Japanese-opera-inspired visuals and homemade props, if their recent engagements are any indication.
Beforehand, local synth-pop trio Triple Gangers, minor-key-lovin' Esther Grey, Iowa City Krautrock duo Wet Hair, Detroit alt punks Tyvek, rafter-raising singing group Choir! Choir! Choir! and exuberant funk-popist Maylee Todd will warm up the crowd in that order. (C!C!C! will also back up Todd for a couple of tunes.)
The festival programmers know it's best to ease into things on Sunday, when hangovers will surely abound. At 1 pm, composer Tod Machover holds the participatory workshop A Toronto Symphony, in which musicians and audience members pool their talents to write a collaborative composition.
Ivy Mairi's exquisitely gentle folk gets the concert portion under way just after 4 pm, followed by Toronto new romantics Lioness, the soulful OG Melody (featuring Isla Craig and Thom Gill), Hamilton hip-hoppers Canadian Winter, ex-DD/MM/YYYY dudes Absolutely Free and psych-punk locals Young Mother.
Bring earplugs for headlining Brooklyn shoegazers A Place to Bury Strangers, known for their volume and intense live show, which they brought to Toronto in June during NXNE. Their recently released album, Worship, meanwhile, is receiving plenty of critical, er, worship.
Last year's fest featured a number of site-specific performances - most notably, Evening Hymns' live score to a 3-D movie and Jennifer Castle and Yuula Benivolski's burning effigy, set to Castle's cover of Fallin' by Alicia Keys. This year's participants have been mum on the topic, though Wavelength founding director Jonathan Bunce says, "There will be performance artists doing short ‘interventions' at some of the sites around the centre."
Each year ALL CAPS! finds ways to grow a bit bigger while never compromising its grass-roots, community-first appeal. This fourth edition also includes 15 visual artists - General Chaos, Cameron Lee, Felix Kalmenson and Sara Tremblay, to name a few - vendors SkyBlueSky Sandwich Co. and Katie Mathieu, and an outdoor beach stage that will help increase capacity. Last year, organizers had to turn away about 100 people on the first day.
To help cover costs associated with the expansion and ensure all artists get paid, Wavelength's launched an inaugural Indiegogo campaign, which you can find at indiegogo.com/allcapsislandfestival.