FAKE PROM featuring DOUGIE BOOM, SHIT LA MERDE and the FORD PREFECTS at Palais Royale, Friday, August 24. Rating: NNN
For 10 years, Fake Prom was an annual freaks-and-geeks-friendly, indie-spirited party complete with DJs, a live band, a Fake Prom king and queen and a fake dating service.
It all came to an end last night with an Enchantment Under The Sea-themed send-off at Palais Royale featuring appearances by Fake Prom's 2004 band, the Ford Prefects, and DJs Dougie Boom and Shit La Merde.
Musically, the night was all about time travel, jumping from 90s Britpop to Be My Baby and Lollipop, to Elvis Costello, Tiffany and Adele. So basically, if you went to high school any time over the past six decades, there was something for you to dance to. (Though most likely your real prom didn't include crabs, mer-people, an oyster and a drowning man; Fake Prom crowds take dressing up seriously.)
But despite the band's messy punk-rock-karaoke vocal delivery and the rising age of some of the crowd (Working For The Weekend seems increasingly appropriate), the final Fake Prom felt more real than fake, an unabashed opportunity for a big crowd to embrace hit songs together on the dance floor.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND, at Rogers Centre, Friday, August 24. Rating: NNNNN
Fans will tell you Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band put on one of the best live rock shows you'll ever see in your life, but it's hard to grasp what they mean until you actually experience it yourself. Springsteen doesn't need lasers, fireworks and elaborate set designs - the peak of his show comes when the venue turns on all the blindingly bright house lights at curfew. Instead of leaving the stage, the band just takes that as a signal to ramp the energy up another notch. And then they continue playing for 45 more minutes (after already playing for three hours non-stop before that).
Other superstars justify playing the exact same set each night because of the need to sync everything up to the video and light show. Springsteen, on the other hand, takes requests and makes every song sound new. At times, the extended jamming felt a bit exhausting, but that's still far more exciting than session musicians lifelessly playing along to backing tracks. Bruce is definitely still the Boss.
MATTHEW DEAR, PAT MAHONEY, LEE FOSS, SOUL CLAP and many more, as part of the WKD BEACH PARTY at Sugar Beach, Saturday, August 25. Rating: NNNN
There's been a lot of talk this summer about the huge numbers of young fans coming out to festival gigs by the new generation of young dance music performers like Skrillex, but the resurgence in popularity of electronic music is also being seen in other demographics. There's a growing crossover between audiences who are part of the younger brostep crowd and the established house and techno scenes, which is making talent-stacked all-day events like Saturday's WKD Beach Party increasingly commonplace.
This mix might mean a few more kids with tacky Jersey Shore-inspired haircuts dancing to LCD Soundsystem's Pat Mahoney's DJ set of obscure disco and soulful house, but the best parties have always drawn diverse crowds of people who wouldn't ordinarily hang out together.
Musically, all the acts dropped some great tunes, but headliner Matthew Dear made the biggest impression. While his albums are increasingly straight-up synth pop, as a DJ he's still got the ability to turn in a stripped-down, raw techno set that walks the line between experimental and sexy.
FIRE ON THE WATER with VENUS X, D/J RUPTURE, POIRIER, MAGA BO, DOS MUNDOS, LUCIE TIC, TORRO TORRO & M.A.M.A. at Sunnyside Pavillion, Sunday, August 26. Rating: NNNN
Fire On The Water, a day-long beach/pool jam at Sunnyside Pavilion, was conceived as a family-friendly, convivial thing with art installations, DJs and the Uma Nota drummers. But it was as much about reclaiming public space as it was about giving us a daytime event in the vein of NYC's hip MoMA PS1 courtyard parties. It was also the perfect way to celebrate the last heady days of summer.
In addition to live performers and artists, the fuss was helped along by a premier lineup of tropical bass DJs: locals M.A.M.A, Lucie Tic, Torro Torro, and Dos Mundos, Montreal's Poirier, and flown-in attendees Maga Bo, D/J Rupture and Venus X. The Uma Nota drummers - who started their samba stomp down below before storming the upstairs dance hall - had revellers peaking, but Venus had them truly beguiled with her Latin-meets-dembow-meets-hardstyle-meets-Rihanna mix.
Booming bass wafted from the dance hall to the packed beach and patio below. Too bad it took until the last weekend in August for the pavilion to host its most hectic event yet. "It's busier today than Canada Day and Caribana combined," our server told us.