The curtain comes down this weekend on the glorious summer activity that is outdoor music. And what better way than with a folksy little festival at Toronto Island.
A first glance Virgin Festival, or V-Fest as they've dubbed it to avoid any confusion with Roger Corman movies, looks like an anglophile field day designed to draw the broadest demographic of rock radio listeners. And I wouldn't argue that charge. But dig through the schedule a little deeper and there's actually some desirable stuff worth checking out.
But before we get into the music, just a few tips for those who want to avoid as much human cattle herding as possible. Unless you arrive really early or late, you're going to be met by a disgustingly-long snake of bodies starting at the ferry dock and stretching down Queens Quay. Keep in mind this will be the easiest line you'll ever cut in your life, if you so choose such a tactic (keep Karma in mind, always).
When boarding the ferry, don't grab the first vacant seat like a chump. Make sure to position yourself at the opposite end of the boat, that way you're first off and beating the pack.
And lastly, and most importantly, ask yourself just how much you wanna see those headliners. Or better put, how much of the headliners to you need to see because, say, ditching half way through Foo Fighters could mean smooth passage back to shore, as opposed to the brutal death march that occurs when the entire island evacuates simultaneously.
Saturday's lineup is arguably stronger and worth getting to at a reasonably early time. The Constantines, once regular fixtures on the local live scene, haven't played their hometown in months. Check their daytime slot on the main stage cuz it might be awhile before they play again. However, if you're a Spiritualized fan you won't be able to give the Cons full attention, as the two sets clash. Jason Pierce isn't much of daytime guy, in fact he might be just waking up for their 4 pm set. This could be iffy.
MGMT are Saturday's dark horse. They're huge right now, though they probably shouldn't be playing before Against Me!, who follow right after. But keep in mind Bloc Party's twilight set at Broken Social Scene's Island fest two years ago won many hearts. Their 7pm set positions them for a dusky repeat.
And don't forget the over-marketed confines of the Bacardi B-Live tent. Ed Banger all-star Sebastian will be spinning buzzsaw house before the mysterious DJ known as Switch closes it out. (Switch produced most of the MIA's latest joint in case ya didn't know.)
Don't feel too guilty about sleeping in on Sunday, Spiral Beach and Danko Jones won't take it personally. However, Sebastian Granger on the side stage should be a definite, as the ex-DFAer is just embarking on his long-awaited coming out party with some very hot tunes. This is where the schedule gets a bit dubious. Silversun Pickups, Matt Costa, Stereophonics, Pigeon Detectives, and a few other skippables might be a good time to wait hours in line to pay 10 bucks for a soggy slice of pizza.
And as for the closer: if summer has to end, it might as well end with a mass singalong to Wonderwall. Admittedly, that's not a bad way to go out.
Check next week's issue of NOW for full coverage of V-Fest.