Concerts Concerts Pavement Owns The Toronto Island Concert

Pavement Owns The Toronto Island Concert

Pavement at Toronto Island
Pavement, Broken Social Scene, Band Of Horses
Beach House
Toronto Island Park in Toronto, Ontario
June 19, 2010

Photos and Review by: Pete Nema

Despite the looming forecast of thunder showers, I rode my bike to the Toronto Island ferry docks, with camera and raincoat in hand, to make my way over to the Toronto Island Concert, featuring a headlining set by Pavement, an almost co-headline set by Toronto's Broken Social Scene, as well as Band Of Horses, and Beach House. Unfortunately, I didn't get myself out of bed early enough to catch either Timbre Timber or the Toronto Review (The Beauties, Flash Lightnin', and Zeus).

The weather, however, flipped the bird to the meteorologists. The clouds cleared, and the sun was out in full-force on the crowd of this sold-out island show. Security and EMS personnel were amazing — my unexpected need for sunscreen was fulfilled by the staff at the EMS tent, and I saw more than one security guard sharing their personal stash of sunscreen with concert goers. One security guard told me "I'd rather see this entire bottle get emptied than see people get burned unnecessarily." Lots of great people working there that day.

For food and drinks, the line-ups were insanely long. It's possible the beer parks were purposefully limited in capacity to reduce alcohol intake, I can't say, but I took one look at the line and realized that I wouldn't be drinking until I returned to the mainland. And although it was so very cool that all the food was supplied by independent vendors, the serving capacity was definitely lower than it needed to be. But since water was available from fountains (after waiting in a much shorter line-up), none of this really bothered me. Besides, the real reason for me to be there was to see Pavement and the other bands.

Pavement

Both Pavement and the solo work of Stephen Malkmus (vocals, guitar) have had a significant influence on my current musical tastes. With a combined 151 tracks in my iTunes library, these are songs that show up regularly in my playlists. But even more importantly is the influence that Pavement has had on current bands, and even Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene) and Ben Bridewell (of Band Of Horses) admitted as much during their own sets.

When Pavement disbanded in 1999, I hadn't yet seen the band perform, and for years I had long accepted the fact that I never would. However, late in 2009 news spread that Pavement was reuniting, and the eventual announcement that they were coming to Toronto to meant an opportunity not only to see the band, but also (the potential) to actually photograph them.

There was no shortage of good performances earlier in the day, but Pavement was definitely the main attraction for me. By the time they hit the stage, the sun had set and the hot and humid weather of the day was replaced by a beautifully warm summer night. The band sounded surprisingly tight, opening with "Cut Your Hair", and continued through a set that included wide range of songs from their catalogue of albums, including some of my favourites such as "Silence Kit", "Spit On A Stranger", "Shady Lane", "Stereo", "Summer Babe", as well as many other songs that didn't begin with an 'S'. Kevin Drew and Ben Bridewell even joined Pavement on stage for "Kennel District".

For the most part, they played the songs incredibly well, and there was more visual antics than I expected, including Malkmus occasionally swinging his guitar up and over his back or around in circles while playing. There may have been a bit of a lull in the level of excitement in the middle, but with such a strong start and finish, I can barely remember. I started to walk to the ferry at the beginning of their encore, for which I could hear (and occasionally see) them play "Date With IKEA" and heard the last song of the night "Stop Breathing" from the top deck of the ferry.

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Broken Social Scene

Given that this was a major hometown show for Broken Social Scene, there definitely was some expectation that we would have a full stage for this set, and that expectation was met. The band started out the evening with "World Sick", a track from their newest album, Forgiveness Rock Record, but immediately dropped back a few years with "Stars and Sons." When Leslie Feist joined the band onstage for "7/4 (Shoreline)", the crowd cheered like mad, but no gasps of surprise at least from where I was standing. Still, there's something about her performance that brings the fans together, and even though by this point I was far back in the crowd, I could still sense a bit of her strong stage presence. Feist and Emily Haines (of Metric) joined forces on stage later in the set, which was another source of cheering, and could possibly be considered the epicentre of the bands performance.

I suspect Broken Social Scene was the main event for some portion of the crowd, with some people leaving afterwards, possibly to get back to the mainland for NXNE and/or Iggy And The Stooges. I've seen them a few times over the years, and none of the more recent shows has equalled the one performance I saw back in 2006, although I'll admit that I missed the Harbourfront show last year (people are still using that one as a measuring stick). I suspect that if you were up near the stage for this one, it may have been a close second, but I just couldn't absorb the same amount of rock energy from the distance at which I watched.

However, the lengthy set did give me time ponder a theory I have about Broken Social Scene. Every time I see them, it seems as though they may have an internal competition between band members to see who can leave the stage last. I'm thinking the last person to pack it in wins. In 2008 I saw BSS perform at The Verge XM Music Awards, and Brendan Canning was still up on stage plucking at a bass even as the closing remarks were being made by the host of the show. Not sure who won at the Toronto Island Concert, I was too far away and distracted to see, but they did seem to keep the show rolling a little longer than initially intended.

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Band Of Horses

Band Of Horses were in Toronto not too long ago and played a surprise show at the Horseshoe Tavern. It was intimate, casual, musically a little loose, but overall a serious amount of fun. The fun continued at the Toronto Island Concert, but this time the band was in a different mode. Starting out with "Islands On The Coast" from their 2007 album Cease To Begin, it was clear the band wasn't there on a whim (obviously), they were there to play a crowd-pleasing daytime set. The band members sweated it out in the direct sunlight, which resulted in a few comments about the insane heat on stage. I certainly had a great time seeing them at the Horseshoe, but the performance on the Island was bigger, brighter, and just had that extra something. Lots of earlier songs, a few new ones, but all played brilliantly. Truly excellent, thanks Band Of Horses.

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Beach House

As easy as their recordings are to take, Beach House was a little too easy to take in a live setting. It was still early in the day, fair enough, but visually there wasn't much happening on stage. Alex Scally (guitar) remained seated while playing, at least for the portion I saw. They did, however, dress up the stage with large tinsel-covered shapes. From an auditory perspective, I suppose it was appropriate background music for standing in line, which many people did for hours.

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