The sounds of summer in Toronto include tons of vintage and future soul, chart-topping rappers, local-focused festivals and a few potentially last-chance performances
Whether or not you like the title, Hug Of Thunder by Broken Social Scene is one of the most anticipated albums of the year. And you can hear it a month earlier than everybody else when they headline the Arts & Crafts takeover this week at Fort York Garrison Common. Besides seeing the collective in all their sprawling glory (the June 3 show is part of their first full U.S. tour since 2011), you can also catch sets by our glorious recent cover girl Feist, Thundercat, Phoenix, A Tribe Called Red and many others.
June 3-4 at Fort York Garrison Common (250 Fort York), $80-$200, fieldtriplife.com
Summer 17 couldn’t be better for R&B fans. A range of artists spanning generations, styles and influences have concerts scheduled, beginning with newcomer Kehlani on Sunday (June 4) at Rebel, continuing with acclaimed Los Angeles trio King at Yonge-Dundas Square as part of Pride on June 25 and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin at Sony Centre on July 1.
Versatile powerhouse Jill Scott hits Massey Hall on July 18, electronic-pop weirdo Dawn Richard performs at the Drake on July 15, 90s stalwart Brandy makes her second appearance in town this year as part of Throw Back Fest at Echo Beach on July 30, and none other than the elusive chanteuse herself, Mariah Carey, rounds out summer at the Air Canada Centre on August 24.
Prices vary, torontojazz.com
Princess Nokia, born Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, is one of the freshest, most empowered rapper/singers in hip-hop and R&B. The New York City musician balances assertiveness and fun in her music, aims for her shows to be safe spaces for marginalized folx and has a DIY approach to the biz that means she’s calling the shots. She played Toronto as recently as February, but with her fan base growing daily, this June show will likely be rammed.
June 9 at the Velvet Underground (508 Queen West), $21, ticketweb.ca
Warehouse parties tend to be surreptitious affairs, but Manifesto is taking over one following its signature event (with Majid Jordan and The Internet at Echo Beach) on June 10. The hip-hop festival’s popular High Power dance party – featuring DJs Vashtie Kola, Nino Brown and Dre Ngozi spinning dancehall, soca, hip-hop, Afrobeat and more – is the concert’s official after-party.
June 10 at 500 Keele, $10, mnfsto.com
She made one of the best pop albums of 2016, but Carly Rae Jepsen hasn’t really delivered a proper live performance of the catchy 80s-inspired tracks to her Toronto fans (aside from a very brief opening set supporting Hedley at the ACC last spring). It will be rewarding to finally see these masterful songs get their due – and be reimagined and arranged by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, too.
June 17 at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe), $27-$89, tso.ca
Queer dance parties in Toronto are generally known for dance, pop and hip-hop, but Steers & Queers has been holding it down for the country fans for 10 years. To mark the milestone, the event is taking over the Great Hall on Pride weekend with Night Of 1000 Dollys, aka “the biggest Dolly Parton party this town has ever seen.” Dolly drag is obviously encouraged.
June 22 at the Great Hall (1087 Queen West), $15-$20, fb.com/SnQparty
Fans go, er, bananas for Gorillaz. Especially when the Damon Albarn-led virtual reality project makes a surprise return after seven years away. Fifth album Humanz was released to much acclaim at the end of April, and the accompanying tour features Albarn, co-creator Jamie Hewlett‘s characters, and surprise guests who might include Danny Brown, Mavis Staples, Popcaan, Kelela, Jehnny Beth, D.R.A.M. or the many other album contributors.
July 10 at the Air Canada Centre (40 Bay), $53.75-$103.75, ticketmaster.ca
Despite having an ardent Toronto fan base that can rap along to the deepest of deep cuts, a proper full-length headlining Kendrick Lamar concert has somehow eluded the city for four years. That changes when the hip-hop heavyweight brings his DAMN. tour to the ACC.
July 25 and August 23 at Air Canada Centre (40 Bay), $49.50-$149.50, ticketmaster.ca
Blondie are proving that you can still rock pretty hard in your 70s. Their recent album, Pollinator, relies heavily on guest songwriters (Charli XCX, Sia, Dave Sitek, Johnny Marr, Dev Hynes), but the NYC new wave-punk band, Debbie Harry in particular, still sound as charismatic and confident as ever. With Harry now 71, Clem Burke 61 and Chris Stein 67, this might be your final chance to hear Heart Of Glass and Dreaming by the real deal. Also doesn’t hurt to have Garbage on the bill.
July 26 at the Sony Centre (1 Front East), $50.50-$138.50, ticketmaster.ca
Camp Wavelength gives us the warm fuzzies. How could it not, happening during sweltering August? But its Island locale catches cool breezes, its interactive group activities are the cutest, and its music programming – Dilly Dally, Jessy Lanza, Ice Cream, Un Blonde, Witch Prophet, the Luyas – pumps up the Canadian scene while also sending non-local headliners – Deerhoof! – across the water on the ferry. Plus, where else can you camp within city limits?
August 18-20 at Artscape Gibraltar Point (443 Lakeshore, Toronto Island), $64.99-$529.99, wavelengthmusic.ca
When case/lang/veirs came through the Danforth Music Hall last year, we were overcome with gratitude every time k.d. lang opened her mouth to sing. The power, the control, the sensitivity, the playfulness, the joy. It’ll all be on display at the Sony Centre, where she’ll celebrate the 25th anniversary of her breakthrough album, Ingenue. Expect some covers by Canada’s greatest songwriters, too. It’s a show fans won’t want to miss.
August 30 at the Sony Centre (1 Front East), $42.89-$122.89, ticketmaster.ca
Don’t miss the rest of this year’s Hot Summer Guide!