The crowd that braved the rain at Toronto Island Sunday still had a much better time at V-Fest than Noel Gallagher.
Thu, Sep 4
PROPOSTEROUS at Sneaky Dee's Rating: NNNN
Stand-up comic Bryan O'Gorman introduced local tongue-in-cheek metal kids Proposterous to their throng of diehard fans, and informed the few not yet in the know that these dudes are serious about not taking shit seriously. Pumped about releasing their first LP, Wicked In Bedlam, the pair have built a solid rep for their ear-shredding, semi-ironic tunes as well as for their hilarious DIY stage show.
To make this release party extra-awesome, singer-guitarist Craig VK and drummer Hunter J introduced two crazy homemade characters: perched next to the drum kit, Puking Chicago Bulls Werewolf, a papier-mâché construction, spewed fountains of fake blood. Later, a giant cardboard robot called Proposterobot crashed the stage, and audience members were encouraged to drink beer flowing out of the ingenuously rigged cyborg's phallus.
Despite the entertaining antics (which also included the Tiger Girls spraying the slam-dancing crowd with whisky and vodka), their solid hooks and killer musicianship lent substance to their joke-metal facade.
Sat, Sep 6
V-FEST DAY 1 at Centre Island Rating: NNN
There's a rush that comes when your ferry is docking at Centre Island for V-Fest and you hear the muffled echo of snare drum blasts and then muted roars from the crowd. For two days, guitar rock is your destiny. This proved to be the Devil's bargain, but we'll get to that later.
It was a bit strange seeing Spiritualized so early in the day, considering this is a band that rivalled Radiohead in the 90s. Playing heavily from his newest, Songs In A&E, leader Jason Pierce slipped between noise romps and fragile mood pieces, and two powerful female backup vocalists gave the set a huge boost. Not a great daylight band, but they delivered nonetheless.
Of the entire V-Fest lineup, arguably the hottest band on the ticket was MGMT. The N.Y. duo (who are actually a four-piece) owned the summer airwaves with their sexed-up funk, contagious electro-y pop tracks and neon headgear. Aside from a mid-set lull of Floydian foolery, they packed hits and raised arms skyward, culminating with the undeniably likeable song Kids.
Bloc Party always gets the coveted sunset slot when they play Toronto Island. Maybe it's a stipulation in their contract, but they seem to be a case of the law of diminishing returns. The sloppy play and apparent inability of these Brit mopers to improve on Silent Alarm could mean the sun is truly setting on them.
As usual, Foo Fighters offered no surprises other than the fact that Dave Grohl now aspires to be James Hetfield. In between macho rants about "playing some fucking new shit, some old fucking shit," we were treated to video screen close-ups of Grohl spitting phlegm balls (he actually horked in mic range at one point, sending a disgusting sound reverberating across the island). The lucky ones on the early ferry back probably didn't hear it.
Sun, Sep 7
Photo By Zach Slootsky
Noel Gallagher, pre-ambush.
V-FEST DAY 2 at Centre Island Rating: NN
The taste of guitar-based rawk was getting a little sour by V-Fest's second day. Would it have killed organizers to add a highly billed female artist, or maybe a Mike Skinner, to bust up the power-chord club?
Fortunately Sebastien Grainger and the Mountains cleansed the palate early in the day. The former DFAer played a charged-up side-stage set of 70s rock with unexpected verve, considering they'd rocked a Queen West loft late the previous night. Grainger is building steam toward their debut release in October. Should be huge.
Back on main, hazy alt-90s throwbacks Silversun Pickups played to an audience politely waiting to hear the one song this band will always be known for: Lazy Eye (they played it last, of course). Oasis clones Stereophonics fared better in terms of reception, boosted in no small part by all those waving Welsh flags.
Whether Paul Weller was the right choice for the pre-Oasis hole will be the subject of some debate. In a perfect world, young concert-goers could connect lines between the iconoclast and all the Brit rock bands he's influenced at this fest. But that didn't happen, and the generation gap was glaringly obvious through the majority of his unfamiliar and often adult-contempo-sounding set list. Jam classics near the end did spark some energy, though.
As soon as their instro-intro Fucking In The Bushes blared, V-Fest officially became an Oasis concert. However, the rousing Wonderwall singalong likely won't be remembered as vividly as the attack on Noel and Liam Gallagher midway through their gem (What's The Story) Morning Glory by an assailant who was quickly dragged backstage, where he probably got a couple of Gallagher brothers autographs in the face.