OVER THE TOP FESTIVAL at various venues, tonight (Thursday, May 3) to Sunday (May 6). Individual shows $8-$20. Full schedule and complete details and info at www.overthetopfest.com. Rating: NNNNN
Trying to pull off your own full-on music festival when you're an indie promoter up against corporate-backed powers is an ambitious feat by itself. Throw in a mandate to make every event all-ages (a challenge in a city where most music venues serve booze) and you're flirting with insanity. The fact that Thornhill-bred wonderboy Eric Warner has been doing this - successfully - since launching his Over The Top Fest (then called the Toronto Indie Pop Festival) in 02 should cement his local hero status.
But that's not enough for Warner.
Whether he's a crazed overachiever or simply gets bored easily, the promoter/student/musician/indie label operator (who celebrates his 24th birthday in August) has expanded this year's Over The Top bonanza to include film, theatre and dance - in addition, of course, to programming a diverse slate of fantastic indie music capped off by a rare T.O. appearance by cult legend Daniel Johnston (see feature below).
On top (over the top?) of his usual fest-related stress and the challenges of embracing new mediums, Warner's likely developed a few premature grey hairs in 07 due to an absurd battle with an unlikely rival: the CFL. To make a long story short, the helmet-heads decided to run an entertainment slate during this year's Grey Cup (in Toronto) under the Over The Top banner - the name Warner's been using since 03.
Despite the fact that most hardcore Argos fans probably won't give a shit about, say, Mt. Eerie (and vice versa), the tenacious, media-savvy dude issued a cease-and-desist order. The battle's now in the hands of lawyers, and all Warner will say is that no formal agreement is yet in place regarding the "name situation."
"It's still ongoing," he says. "Right now the focus is on making my Over The Top Fest the best to date."
Based on this year's lineup and expanded content, it's quite possible Warner's hopes will be realized. Here's a handful of the festival's highlights:
DD/MM/YYYY?s Matt King (left), Mike Claxton, Tomas del Balso, Moshe Rozenberg and Jordan Holmes make noise at Sneaky Dee?s May 3.
WHO Brain-twisting local raucous post-punk experimentalists with a warped sense of humour honed by inventing their own fun in the wilds of suburbia.
SEE THEM with angular, percussive Baltimore duo Ecstatic Sunshine and foreign-tongued, flute-buoyed shouters Rozasia at Sneaky Dee's (431 College) tonight (Thursday, May 3). $8.
CASIOTONE FOR THE PAINFULLY ALONE
WHO Originally the battery-powered keyboard heartbeat of Owen Ashworth, whose indietronic confessions have taken on added layers of pathos since he started incorporating a broader range of instruments.
SEE HIM with NYC indie rockers Vague Angels (aka the Leo who's not Ted) and P:ano's Nick Krgovich at the Tranzac (292 Brunswick), Friday (May 4). $12.
Phil ?Mt. Eerie? Elverum goes Over The Top twice this weekend.
WHO The latest incarnation of Microphones main man Phil Elverum, who concocts rough-hewn, wobbly, plaintive exercises in musical solipsism.
SEE HIM With intimate folk freaks Ghost Hands and girl-versus-viola Anni Rossi at St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Church (103 Bellevue), Saturday (May 5). $15.