Miguel and Joey Bada$$ redeemed Ryerson’s frosh concerts at Sundown Music Festival

Last year's 6 Fest debacle didn't clear the high bar set by Drake's guest appearances at past frosh shows, but this one set a new one


Smaller is better. That was the unspoken philosophy at Ryerson University’s Sundown Music Festival, held in the parking lot next to Rebel.

Joey Bada$$ and Miguel certainly aren’t small headliners, especially for a frosh concert held by a university student union, but ever since Future introduced Drake as a surprise guest in 2015 there’s been a high bar to clear. Drake pulled the same stunt in 2016 and promised that any time Ryerson called him to play, he’d be there. It dominated talk around campus for weeks.

So when the Ryerson Student Union announced 6 Fest at the beginning of the next school year and promised “special guests” some thought they were wise to a coyness that was actually just disorganization. Headliner Big Sean dropped out, ticket confusion plagued the show, the concert was postponed and, still, fans waited in the cold on Thanksgiving for a shot at seeing Drake on the cheap that, this time, didn’t happen.

After that 6 Fest mess, the newly elected Ryerson Student Union (RSU) took a chance and threw a concert without the same cloud of expectation. Sundown Music Festival was held on time, without confusion over ticket access or any mention of a “special guest.”

The show began with Toronto’s all-female rap quartet The Sorority, whose energy and technical prowess shone through over both boom-bap and trap beats. The group gave a hard-hitting performance that pulled no punches. Then Brooklyn band The Skins captured our attention with charisma, despite the slightly awkward transition from old-school hip-hop to new wave rock.

Concert emcee Femi Lawson held a quick survey asking who the crowd was most excited to see. The overwhelming shriek for co-headliner Miguel was proof in the pudding that Toronto rapper Sean Leon has his work cut out for him. Where Miguel has flashy dance moves and a sumptuous voice, Sean Leon’s set was comprised mainly of hunkered down beats and thoughtful lyrics. The crowd didn’t seem too familiar with him at first, but by the time his final song, Steve Harvey/Family Feud, boomed over the speaker system, he’d broken down the barriers.

Then it was time for the first of two headliners, Joey Bada$$. Fresh from his cancelled show at Budweiser Stage with Logic few weeks ago (due to “unforeseen circumstances” after allegedly staring at the solar eclipse without protective eyewear), the Brooklyn rapper got a huge reception for his bravado and increasingly diverse catalogue.

Perhaps he was given slightly less time due to slow changeovers, or maybe he was enjoying himself too much to keep track of time, but Joey and his stage companion, DJ Selector, weren’t ready to leave when their time was up. After arguing with stage hands, they decided to push on for one last song and signed off with the early favourite Survival Tactics, which Joey Bada$$ co-wrote with his late partner, Capital Steez. 

Miguel pulled no punches in his performance either. Singing into a frilly mic stand, the provocative pop star knew his audience well. “Who’s down to smoke with me tonight?” he asked, and large puffs of smoke wafted into the warm night air.

After impressing with extended cuts of hits that showed off his velvet voice and charm, particularly in his live rendition of Do You…, the Los Angeles singer disappeared into the night, thanking fans for their time and energy, only to rush back to the stage a minute later for an encore performance of Sky Walker (whose Director X-helmed video was filmed in Toronto). We rushed with him, everyone sprinting back to the stage to get a better spot than they had before.

Miguel signed off again, thanked his fans and left. There was no anticipation left in the air. Fans got what, and who, they came for.

Check out more photos of the show below:


Anders Marshall

Joey Bada$$ at Sundown Music Festival


Anders Marshall

Joey Bada$$ at Sundown Music Festival


Anders Marshall

Sean Leon at Sundown Music Festival


Anders Marshall

The Sorority at Sundown Music Festival


Anders Marshall

The Sorority at Sundown Music Festival

music@nowtornto.com | @_AndersM

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