The best Toronto concerts happening in August 2018

Drake and Migos come to town (but no OVO Fest?), along with David Byrne, Beach House, The National and others plus Manifesto and Caribbean Carnival festivals


1. David Byrne

One of the most unusual and anticipated tours of the year arrives in Toronto this weekend. David Byrne promised his concerts in support of his American Utopia album would be “the most ambitious show I’ve done” since his old band Talking Heads’ seminal concert film Stop Making Sense. Expect something akin to theatre, full of artfully minimal staging, barefoot choreography (by Annie-B Parson), lots of percussion and zero backing tracks.

August 3-4. Sony Centre (1 Front East). Doors 7 pm. $61-$241. ticketmaster.ca.

2. Drake and Migos

Still no official word on whether OVO Fest is happening this year, but Toronto will still be getting its annual Drake show. The whole Aubrey & The Three Migos tour – Drizzy’s joint tour with Migos – has been postponed, so the three Scotiabank Arena shows happen 10 days later than expected, but you can expect the blockbuster hip-hop tour will bring out something special for the 6. Whether that’s special guests, a set design to beat last year’s giant CN Tower, a long-delayed Pusha T response, an onstage welcome to Kawhi Leonard, or some other last-minute surprise, it probably won’t be dull.

August 20-22. Scotiabank Arena (40 Bay). Doors 7 pm. $122-$600. ticketmaster.ca.

3. Manifesto Festival

The festival has been shapeshifting over the last few years, never abandoning its community focus on all aspects of hip-hop in the city. They’ve settled on a good one for this year, with a club-centric Discovery Series featuring artists like Ziibiwan, Staasia Daniels, Haleek Maul and many more, an arts program featuring Hatecopy and a free Nathan Phillips Square concert on August 17 that will bring hometown hero Charlotte Day Wilson alongside Jamaican reggae star Chronixx and English rapper/poet/activist Akala. 

August 9-19. Various venues. mnfsto.com.

4. Jazz Cartier

During an already big summer for Toronto hip-hop, Jazz Cartier has released his major label debut Fleurever and it’s clear he’s got big stage ambitions. So it’s a bit funny his hometown release show is such an undersized room for him. Or maybe that was intentional. The show sold out in approximately 22 seconds (our estimate), and we’re betting you can expect either a bigger venue or some extra dates to be announced soon. Given Jazz Cartier’s ability to incite a crowd and spread his infectious energy, if this show does stay at Velvet Underground you can expect a messy one. In the best way possible. 

August 16. Velvet Underground (508 Queen West). Doors 8 pm. Sold out. 

5. Toronto Caribbean Carnival

This year’s parade marks an interesting chapter in the 51-year-history of the event. The music has always been a major part of the festivities, and this year there’s an exciting group of artists playing at events all over town who represent a shift within the rapidly expanding world of soca, dancehall, baile favela, reggaeton and more. There’s also a strong crop of queer and queer-friendly parties, an important evolution within Carnival. 

6. The National, Father John Misty, Jenny Lewis, Julien Baker, Dan Edmonds

Fort York used to house a handful more festivals than this year’s light season, but this one-day indie rock event is a good almost-fest. The National bring their melancholy tunes back to Toronto ahead of their performance at Osheaga, alongside singer/songwriters Father John Misty, Jenny Lewis, Julien Baker and Dan Edmonds – a solid lineup from beginning to end. The show is in partnership with Partners In Health Canada so $1 from every ticket goes to a good cause.

August 4. Fort York Garrison Common (250 Fort York). Doors 3 pm, all ages. $89.50-$139.50. ticketfly.com.

7. Beach House 

Just in time for winter to wear out its spring-forward welcome, Beach House have announced a show for the twilight of summer – the perfect time to see the Baltimore dream-pop duo. Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally come to Toronto in celebration of their most recent album, 7, which has a darker mood than the dreamy vibe we’re used to. The pair’s hauntingly beautiful vocals and riffs create ethereal melodies will sound great at Sony Centre. Definitely not a show to miss.

August 20. Sony Centre (1 Front East). 7 pm. $42-$59.50, all ages. ticketmaster.ca.

8. Taylor Swift

She’s already determined the old Taylor dead, so is this a posthumous show? Swift will be putting her new self on display at the Rogers Centre and performing from the polarizing new album Reputation. But the newest arena tour has been getting mostly positive reviews, highlighting the pop star’s massive confidence and even more massive production values. Plus, in a throwback to her squad days, there have been a lot of cameos. So expect a lot of cameras up and ready.

August 3-4. Rogers Centre (1 Blue Jays Way). Doors 7 pm, all ages. Tickets from $102. ticketmaster.ca.

9. New Order 

After finally reaching legal settlements with ex-bassist Peter Hook, New Order is back on the road and will be coming to Toronto on the sole Canadian date of their short tour. The 80s post-punk cult classics’ latest release, 2015’s album Music Complete, is their first in 10 years. Get ready to dance and reminisce with tracks new and old. 

August 30. Budweiser Stage (909 Lake Shore West). 6:30 pm, all ages. $39.50-$99.50. ticketmaster.ca.

10. TOronto TOgether 

Billy Talent are throwing a benefit concert during the Taste of the Danforth festival for the victims of the Danforth shooting. Joining them will be fellow Toronto artists City and Colour, PUP and more still to be announced. All proceeds will be donated to #TORONTOSTRONG via the Toronto Foundation in direct support of the victims. “We want to throw a concert to show the world and more importantly our community that Toronto is a place of love, of community, of kindness and compassion,” Billy Talent say. It’s one of many events across the city taking action by coming together as a community. 

August 11 at Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth), doors 7 pm. $TBA. torontotogether.com

11. Future Peers, Witch Prophet, VERSA

In the midst of a music venue crisis in Toronto, one group of artists are fighting back. Indie rock band Future Peers has joined forces with NOW cover star Witch Prophet and VERSA to put on a “multisensory music and art party” at the old Whippersnapper Gallery location, a regular live music venue before it relocated in 2010. “It’s kind of a throwback to when we had that space,” Future Peers’ Luke Correia-Damude, who was one of the founders of Whippersnapper but is not currently affiliated, told NOW in a recent interview.

August 2. The Commons (587a College). Doors 8 pm. $12-$15. eventbrite.ca.

12. Veld Music Festival

Toronto’s most drop-friendly big-stage EDM festival has developed over the years into a half-electronic/half-rap showdown. So this year you get DJ Snake, Marshmello and Martin Garrix, but also A$AP Ferg, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Lil Yachty, Migos a couple of weeks before they come to town with Drake, plus local hip-hop artists Nav, 88Glam and others. 

August 4-5. Downsview Park (70 Canuck). Doors 1 pm, all ages. $110-$259.50. ticketmaster.ca.

13. Godspeed You! Black Emperor

If you haven’t seen these Montreal instrumental post-rock legends, you should be first in line for this one. Experiencing their dynamic heavy drones and riffs is a visceral experience, one that says more than most music with words (the projections and visuals don’t hurt, either). 

August 6-7. Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne). Doors 7 pm. $29.50. ticketfly.com, rotate.com, soundscapesmusic.com.

14. Smashing Pumpkins

It will be a night of 90s nostalgia with the Smashing Pumpkins on their Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour, which marks 30 years since the band’s formation in 1988. It’s a reunion of the original classic lineup except for D’arcy Wretzky, whose war of words with the increasingly erratic Billy Corgan has overshadowed the tour (but hey, that never stopped them originally, did it?). The teased set list features Pumpkins classics plus many covers, including of songs by Bowie and Zeppelin. 

August 8. Scotiabank Arena (40 Bay). 6 pm, all ages. $49.50-$150. ticketmaster.ca.

15. Jeremih, Teyana Taylor

The last time Jeremih was supposed to come through town, things went sideways. In 2016, the R&B singer was removed from a tour with PARTYNEXTDOOR after storming off stage at one gig and reportedly sending out a body double to perform in Houston (a charge he’s never confirmed or denied). This time around, he’s got a new EP out and is hitting the road with another R&B cult favourite of late, Teyana Taylor, who just released her Kanye-produced, Janet-approved second LP K.T.S.E. (Keep That Same Energy). She is an incredible dancer and has a tendency to steal the show – safe to say she’s going to be a huge draw.

August 16. Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne). Doors 7 pm, all ages. $50.50-$153.69. ticketweb.ca.

16. Camp Wavelength

This year’s Camp Wavelength festival was already going to feel different from most, reconfiguring from a camping festival on the island to a two-day event at Fort York Garrison Common. Then Wavelength’s artistic director Jonny Dovercourt was accused of abuse by a former employee, and artists were urged by some people in the local scene to drop out of the festival. Instead, Dovercourt has stepped down while the board conducts an investigation. So Camp Wavelength will go ahead as planned, with a strong lineup of Canadian artists that includes Suuns, Zaki Ibrahim, Maylee Todd, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, Chad VanGaalen, Nate Husser, Frigs and more.

August 18-19. Fort York Garrison Common (250 Fort York). Doors 1 pm, all ages. $48 festival pass. campwavelength.com.

17. Miguel, DVSN

Reverb-loving Los Angeles-based pop impresario Miguel is a regular presence on Toronto stages and now he’s on the road with a local favourite: R&B duo and former NOW cover stars DVSN. As a performer, Miguel is full of Prince-esque flamboyance, sex positivity and confidence, often doing extended renditions of his hits and diving into the pit. His latest album War & Leisure has more overt social consciousness, so expect a bit of politics mixed in with the pleasure.

August 26. Echo Beach (909 Lake Shore West). Doors 7 pm, all ages. $52.50. ticketmaster.ca.

18. Rico Nasty 

Rico Nasty is about to blow up. If it’s not the rising hip-hop star’s self-described “sugar trap” style that makes her stand out, then it’s her variety of different wigs and personas she brings with her. In support of her latest album Nasty, with viral hits like Smack A Bitch and Rage, this show will definitely be an experience.

August 7. Mod Club (722 College). Doors 7 pm, all ages. $22.50. ticketmaster.ca.

19. Arctic Monkeys

The Arctic Monkeys haven’t performed together since November 2014, but the British rock band are making a comeback and bringing their lush, almost loungey new psych-pop sound from their latest LP Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino with them. And for those who still think of them as 00s indie rock poster boys, this is an arena show. 

August 4. Scotiabank Arena (40 Bay). Doors 7:30 pm, all ages. $49-$80. ticketmaster.ca.

20. G-Eazy, Lil Uzi Vert, Ty Dolla $ign, YBN Nahmir, Murda Beatz

Whether or not you’re into G-Eazy’s greased-hair leather-jacket pop-rap, you have to respect the lineup of openers he’s got for this show. You’ve got buzzy Soundcloud rap of Lil Uzi Vert, go-to hook singer Ty Dolla $ign, viral teen YBN Nahmir, Ontario producer Murda Beatz and more. If you’re into hip-hop, there’s something for you there. 

August 22. Budweiser Stage (909 Lake Shore West). Doors 5:30 pm, all ages. $54.60-$222.30. ticketmaster.ca.

music@nowtoronto.com | @nowtoronto

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