WAVELENGTH 12TH ANNIVERSARY FESTIVAL with FUCKED UP, NO JOY, PS I LOVE YOU, SANDRO PERRI, OFF THE INTERNATIONAL RADAR, ODONIS ODONIS, CATL, BONJAY and others, Thursday to Sunday (February 16 to 19), various venues. $10-$20, $36 for festival pass. wavelengthtoronto.com. See listings.
We couldn't fit all of the Wavelength anecdotes into the print version of our feature on the indie institution's 12th Anniversary Festival (plus Friday night's headliners Fucked Up were apparently on a cruise in the Bahamas), so here's some additional memories of one of the most important artist-run non-profits of the past decade in Toronto's music scene.
Jonah Falco (Fucked Up):
You'll have to excuse our tardiness - we were busy bobbing around the Atlantic Ocean on the 'Funship' Carnival Imagination, to and from the Bahamas in a very real void of wireless accessibility (pricewise) and an inescapable black hole of neon-gold excess. That's right, instead of recounting our great debut at Wavelength in time for this to publish to pulp and ink, we were eyes-deep in buffets, Pina Colada Yards, and cherry-less Old Fashioneds. While my colon may never forgive or forget the cheeseburgers I ate past midnight on board, all of my new memories will never release the flashes of our first Wavelength from the grips of the mind.
Wavelength extended their invitation to us on a weekend where Halloween was going to fall. A very wise choice of soundtrack for such an otherwise normally hellish night. We deliberated on costumes for ages, eventually settling on our own spooky choices via Ichabod Crane. That's right: We carved out 5 (Our extra limbs, aka 6th member, had yet to evolve at this point) massive jack-o-lanterns with personalized curves and cuts, all with the right proportions to be laid on our precious craniums. Once fashioned, we set them on my parents' porch to dry out before the show so that the least amount of pumpkin guts got in our hair.
I dressed as a mummy, Josh as an 'enemy combatant from Guantanamo Bay, Damian as himself in a vintage INTEGRITY shirt, Sandy as a milk maid (?), and Mike as some sort of agrarian-propaganda-poster male-form. Now, people had heard about what we were doing, and of course that breeds a fair bit of contemplation as to what might transpire throughout the night. I can't speak to what anyone else was thinking, but I can recall a prediction about the show from the Wavelength zine, in which we prophesied a 350 pound prison guard, and Puerto Rican skinheads moshing with chains. I want to say that all such aspirations came true but I'm going to need some ringside eyewitnesses to come forward and confirm if we're going to be sure.
Anyways, what did happen was that the five of us stormed on stage (lagged across the platform at Sneaky Dees trying desperately to keep the gourds in place) and played a grand total of about one minute and fifteen seconds of music as a cohesive pumpkin patch before the lids started to come off. It was an absolutely titanic visual. Contrary to a lot of our local shows back then, and given the high profile of Wavelength at the time (and now too, of course), it meant a higher attendance and a much broader cross section of audience members. The punks and hardcores were mixing it up with the Wavelength regulars with dynamic results that would perhaps foreshadow our eventual toxification of indie-rock via our plucky little chords. Other highlights included a fictitious interdisciplinary brawl between Dave Steib and the walking corpse of John Kordic, the complete vaporization of all but one of our pumpkins, and some memorable stage dives in what can only be considered one of the great ‘Pits of Unity.'
Happy Anniversary Wavelength.
Don Kennedy (Off the International Radar):
I'm not entirely sure where the pay-what-you-can idea originated, but my first encounter with it was through Wavelength Sunday nights at Ted's Wrecking Yard. I always liked this all-inclusive approach and the type of environment it inspired at these nights. At its heart, community is what drives culture, and no one understands this better than the Wavelength Crew.
Jonathan Bunce (Founding Director, Wavelength Music Series):
Even though this weekend's Anniversary Weekend celebrates Wavelength's 12th birthday - and of course I will never forget rushing from Kinko's to Ted's Wrecking Yard (RIP) with the first copies of the first issue of the black-and-white photocopied Wavelength ‘zine on that cold night of February 13th, 2000 - the most meaningful memory is one that defines who we are right now. Two years ago, we concluded our weekly Sunday night series and redefined Wavelength as a monthly, mobile live arts platform with a more ambitious mandate. We will always be committed to championing new talent and fostering a sense of community within the local scene. But we also want to challenge our artists to push their limits and create new music and experiences.
For that reason, my current favourite Wavelength memory is witnessing Fucked Up performing live along to the 1928 silent film West of Zanzibar on April 9, 2011 at the Images Festival, our sixth annual co-presentation with Toronto's longest-running festival of independent film and video. We had invited FU to compose an original score for Zanzibar - a daunting task given the film's 80+ minute running time and the short time-frame in which they had to write and rehearse it. And they totally hit it out the park. Sitting in the dark at Toronto Underground cinema, experiencing this music for the first time was chillingly intense. The music was not only awesome and LOUD, but it also showed yet another side of this multi-faceted band, with intricate, interlocking riffs that reminded me of Television (the band) at times, and also hit the emotional cues of the film in perfect sync.
Now that I've made a shift in my own career and I'm a full-time staff member at the Images Festival, this achievement seems even more significant. It's also timely, as Fucked Up will be performing a similar set at our TWELVE fest this Friday at Steam Whistle, only in reverse - we've asked a local video artist, Suedath, to create a visual soundtrack to the 17-minute A-side of their new Year of the Tiger EP. This is just a taste of something even bigger that Wavelength and Images are cooking up for next year. Wavelength has evolved so far beyond our roots as a PWYC Sunday night music series - and we'll always stay true to that spirit of accessibility and discovery - but we're excited to aim higher and bring Toronto audiences things they'd never to get to see or hear otherwise.