Sat, Jun 28
VIVE LA FETE at El Mocambo Rating: NNNN
Kicking off the party, Toronto’s Vaneska spun a great set of remixes du jour before heading back for some filthy-funky Dance Mix 92 goodness as the El Mo’s floor began to fill.
Next up were locals Foxfire, who were tapped at the last minute to fill in for Chromeo’s cancelled DJ set. Led by dual vocalists Hannah Krapivinsky and Neil Rankin, Foxfire are sounding more and more like the new Talking Heads. Based on their tight, energetic set, expect this seven-piece party band to blow up soon.
Belgian fashionista headliners Vive la Fête were the first act of the night to actually take the stage; they apparently insisted that all openers play from the floor through a rented PA. They created a mean dance-punk groove in a dark new-wave atmosphere that was well-suited to Els Pynoo’s Blondie-meets-Duchess-Says vocal attack.
ICE CREAM SUMMER FEST at Molson Amphitheatre Rating: NNN
Ginuwine performed first at the second annual Ice Cream Summer Fest, exploding onstage in a napalm-orange velour jacket, waist-length diamond chain and glittering logo mic stand. With four backup dancers supporting his every move, he had one of the night’s best moments when he pulled out some oversized Jared-from-Subway denim slacks and invited a bootylicious fan onstage for In Them Jeans. When he jumped inside the pants with her and started furiously gyrating, the crowd lost it. Points for creativity had to be given.
Monica wasn’t so lucky. A quiet mic and unsure stage presence detracted from her trek down memory lane, though Angel Of Mine still struck a chord. She waxed philosophical about survival but failed as an entertainer; when two of her hits were met with T-dot detachment, Monica got confused and abruptly walked offstage.
Although Dru Hill’s choreographed steps weren’t as tight as New Edition in 2007, their sparkly energy and crowd-friendly banter were a hit. Sisqo, in his platinum brohawk, strutted across the stage during Thong Song and delivered sturdy choreography.
Next up was Joe, with his two crunk-tastic dancers and verbose DJ. The soothing crooner in the matador tuxedo grabbed his crotch and oozed romance non-stop.
Billed as a surprise guest, a radiant Flavor Flav burst out to introduce headliner LL Cool J, whose extended self-fellating video montage intro almost bored the audience to disconnection.
LL scrambled through the eras, aggressively performing mega-hits like Bad, Boomin System, Doin’ It, Mama Said Knock You Out and I Need Love, plus lesser moments of rap/R&B greatness.
He made dreams come true when he handed out roses and invited male and female audience members onstage to dance, and he comedically avoided one particularly shark-like sexy stalker who interrupted songs to bump and grind all over him. Equal parts embarrassing, erotic and entertaining.
And I promise, you’ve never seen a man lick his lips and fingers so many times in one hour.
DRAGONETTE, PARACHUTE CLUB and FRITZ HELDER & THE PHANTOMS on the Electro Avenue Pride stage Rating: NNN
As the sun slid behind the buildings surrounding the Wellesley and Maitland terrace stage, performers’ set times at what was dubbed Electro Avenue got shorter and shorter.
Cumulative technical difficulties led to a race against time, with that dreaded midnight curfew ominously looming. Locals Fritz Helder & the Phantoms and their Rick James future funk hit the stage 90 minutes late to battle through dead microphones and wonky sound levels.
Most disappointing was how little Dragonette we got. Led by the show-stealing Martina Sorbara, the London-via-Toronto four-piece destroyed their 15 minutes with electro-tweaked visceral rock.
Parachute Club played like pros, skipping the chat so they could fill their dwindling time with as much music as possible. Considering there were close to 20 bodies onstage, it was amazing how clean the mix sounded. And, yes, there was time for Rise Up. Like there was any doubt about that.