Olympic Island, June 24
Though it may have begun as a homey summertime celebration of Canadian indie rock, Broken Social Scene 's annual outdoor popstravaganza on Olympic Island -- now in its third year -- has the potential to be T.O.'s answer to the Glastonbury or Reading fests. But there's one big problem. As the scope of the event has exponentially increased along with BSS's popularity (last Saturday's crowd reached 10,000), the logistics of transporting that many fans across the lake -- and handling hungry, thirsty masses throughout the day -- have become a nightmare.
If you wanted to catch J. Mascis 's 4:15 pm set and figured arriving at the downtown docks at around 2:30 for the 10-minute trip would give you plenty of leeway, you were royally screwed. Each ferry has a capacity of 1,000, and when you factored in Pride, Dragon Boat competitions and happy families on day trips, anxious music fans ended up waiting close to two hours for their ride. At the other end, security at the gates was efficient, but lineups for beer, pizza and toilets were brutal. You were better off peeing on a tree.
The show itself was spectacular. Parisian fashionista Feist broke away from her customary la-la-loungey sets in favour of raspy, amped-up field-rocking versions of When I Was A Young Girl and One Evening, and a bouncy organ-driven whirl through Secret Heart (complete with a shoutout to Ron Sexsmith).
Bloc Party were a shockingly humble highlight. Though the Broken kids hand-crafted the solid roster and had top billing, the UK buzz kids were the clear headliners. For such a hyped band, the rock romantics radiated low-key humility, with frontman Kele Okereke repeatedly big-upping Toronto as one of the Bloc's fave cities worldwide (and not in a "Hello... Toronto!" sorta way) and dedicating one tune to an ardent local fan who'd knit them scarves.
Though hits like This Modern Love incited lighter-hoisting and mega-cheers, even Bloc Party's fresh-from-the-studio new material (for their forthcoming disc) was met with rapt adoration. (With good reason -- it sounds awesome.) Despite the massive venue and even huger crowd, the Brits made it feel like you were watching them in a tiny, intimate setting.
Too bad it took close to four hours for the round trip.