Concerts Concerts Toronto Urban Roots Festival: Day One

Toronto Urban Roots Festival: Day One

Toronto Urban Roots Fest
She & Him
Joel Plaskett, Camera Obscura, The Barr Brothers
Fort York in Toronto, ON
July 4, 2013
Review by: Melissa Adamson

The rain mercifully held off for the first evening of TURF and the warm summer evening helped create the perfect start for the four day music festival.


It has been a busy summer for Toronto music fans. Between festival, Field Trip Music & Arts Festival, NXNE and Luminato we haven’t had a chance to put away our festival gear or rest our feet and vocal chords. So when Toronto Urban Roots Festival creator Jeff Cohen welcomed everyone to day one of TURF, we were in full agreement when he said that Toronto is and should be one of the most popular music cities in North America.

Day one of TURF started on Thursday evening with beautiful clear sky and warm weather. First to take the two stages were Montreal-based The Barr Brothers and Camera Obscura from Glasgow, Scotland. The temperature was muggy, so both bands opted for mellow sets that didn’t call for much movement. Camera Obscura playfully joked that they aren't used to such sunny skies and seemed to be happy to keep things low key in the heat. The most excitement seen from the crowd was for popular songs “I’m Ready to be Heartbroken” and “French Navy.”

As the sun began to set, Joel Plaskett glided across the stage, in his typical fashion. He covered a variety of songs from his vast catalogue, including “Extraordinary” and “Through, Through, Through” before slowing things down with a mid-set acoustic break, which included the beautiful “Face of the Earth.” In true Plaskett style, he played for as long as possible, ending his set just as She & Him were scheduled to take the stage.

Plaskett has an undeniable draw for most Canadian music lovers, so his presence on the line-up was the perfect choice for the first day of the inaugural festival. The evening might have even been better for most if it was Plaksett who was scheduled to end the night. Though there was significant buzz and excitement for She & Him, their strict no photography or cellphone policy put a damper on the crowd’s upbeat mood. It seemed rather hypocritical of the band to request that fans enjoy the show without the use of technology and then send out security guards to shine flashlights into the eyes of cellphone- wielders. Nonetheless, the strict demands of the band can’t be blamed on TURF organizers or take away from the more than enjoyable first night of the festival. And despit their their unfair demands She & Him put on a performance well-suited for the crowd.

Zooey Deschanel seemed content to keep the spotlight on herself for the majority of the set, and it wasn't until a duet of "You Really Got a Hold on Me," about a quarter of the way through the set, that the crowd was able to clearly hear M. Ward's warm smokey voice for the first time. Though you can't deny the retro-charm of Deschanel's voice, it would have been nice to hear more of M. Ward. "Magic Trick," was snuck into the middle of the set, but the majority was focused on She & Him songs and covers the featured Deschanel.