The Cure overcame at Bestival, and Tame Impala realized it gets hot in Canada

BESTIVAL with TAME IMPALA, GRIMES, THE CURE, PORTER ROBINSON and others at Woodbine Park, Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12..


BESTIVAL with TAME IMPALA, GRIMES, THE CURE, PORTER ROBINSON and others at Woodbine Park, Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12. Rating: NNN

Bestival brought out distinctly different crowds on Saturday and Sunday. Blame the headliners, or the weather. 

The first day of the second-ever Toronto version of the zany UK festival was hella hot. The grounds teemed with sweaty, barely clothed young people who threaded between the various stages and attractions: an inflatable church that blasted MJ and the Littlest Hobo theme song between “marriage ceremonies,” the gorgeous Bollywood stage, a colourful parade, vintage clothes kiosks, thumping techno blasting from the Big Top tent. (Porter Robinson’s set was especially notable.) The theme was Summer Of Love, so hippie kitsch as interpreted by 20-somethings was everywhere.

“I didn’t know Canada could get this hot,” remarked Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker during the band’s knockout Saturday night headlining set, launched skyward by falsetto-driven Currents material, psychedelic projections and Lonerism and Innerspeaker cuts. (Elephant provided the heaviest moment.) The sound was pristine and full-bodied, and though the Aussie band didn’t stray far from album versions, they unfurled a few incredible instrumental psych jam-outs and extended the drop in Let It Happen to create huge tension that was then released in time with column blasts of pyro. (Even they looked pleased about that bit of flash.) 

Sunday was decidedly more chill – thank you, cool breezes and old-school goths on hand for the Cure. But first was Grimes, who initially seemed like an odd choice to warm up the stage for the new wave legends but whose performance turned out to be complementary: energetic dancers in black flailed around to her unusual electronic productions and incredibly high vocals, and you could imagine some of her eccentrically dressed fans getting turned onto the headliners’ less abrasive but similarly outsider sounds.

Technical glitches, a mediocre turnout and generally not great sound threatened the Cure’s two-and-a-half-hour set – the volume completely disappeared three times – but the English five-piece (which currently includes long-time bassist and keyboardist Simon Gallup and Roger O’Donnell) seemed fairly good-humoured. Robert Smith’s voice was in fine shape, and a batch of bittersweet hits early on – In Between Days, Lovesong, Just Like Heaven, etc – kept us happily, nostalgically melancholy. 

But it wasn’t until after a slow patch (The Perfect Girl, Sleep When I’m Dead) that things really came alive, perhaps due to darkness having fallen and the sound issues having been solved. Suddenly the stage lights grew dramatic, the projections more arresting and the band more dynamic as they sailed through three encores that included A Forest, Let’s Go To Bed, Close To Me, and, sigh, Boys Don’t Cry.       

carlag@nowtoronto.com | @carlagillis

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