Downsview Park in Toronto, ON
July 14, 2012
Review by: Colton Eddy
Photos by: Jeff Budgell
EdgeFest 2012 had everyone feeling dirty and thirsty, but a satisfying smorgasbord of Edge-friendly artists kept us pleasantly distracted.
While we baked in the sweltering Saturday afternoon, caught some radio-friendly acts and complained about the limited beverage selection (Bud or Bud Light), we were reminded of why we fell in love with the radio. It was a nostalgic adventure that could've been exaggerated by dehydration under the cloudless skies. And the festival's only water-refill station was conveniently located beside the side-stage, offering exposure to some of the best Canadian talent including The Darcys, Said The Whale and Yukon Blonde. With no disrespect to talent on the main stage, but the side-stage performers were far more interesting and diverse. A real shame that their sets were limited to 20-minutes. Anyway, let's get to it.
To kick-off the festivities, USS blended genres and had me confused. There was an acoustic guitar that wasn't properly amplified, and hypeman/disc-jockey/gymnast Jason "Human Kebab" Parsons spent most of his time bolting around the stage with headstands and stagedives. It was like Sublime met Skrillex and they had no idea why either were in the same place.
These fellas are one of the finest bands around. With coordinated outfits, they humbly glistened the air with "House Built Around Your Voice", "Shaking Down The Old Bones" and "Edmonton To Purgatory". Dedicating an atmospheric cover of Steely Dan's "Peg" to all the parents - immediately the ranging demographics became more visible. One father was doing things right, with his 8-year-old on his shoulders stricken with a toothless grin. Unfortunately, the small stage restricted their sound that is deserving of main-stage amplification.
Young The Giant
These California gentlemen provided a safe and satisfying set that built to their most popular song, "My Body". Once we reached that desired climax, something shifted and Young The Giant's melodies collapsed. What made this enjoyable, like during USS, was admiring the fresh-faced audience of youngsters that were soaking in what would have probably been their first live music experience. It was a community, and if your nose wasn't perched high-enough, it was comforting.
Although a written account isn't available for The Sheepdogs' Edgefest set, our photographer was able to catch the action through his lens.
While lead singer Brian Aubert's belligerent drunk rambling and sometimes sloppy picking could have done the opposite, it worked in the band's favour at EdgeFest. At this point in the day, the crowd had loosened up like a Catholic girl on prom night and his behaviour was quite alright. Several songs in, he introduced the band Sex Bob-Omb, a clever reference to Michael Cera's band in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. "We're here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff," he declared, to a charmed Toronto crowd. And of course, Silversun Pickups went on to slay expectations on "Lazy Eye", a staple of Edge content.
Reverb. Shaggy hair. Harmony. These Kelowna-bred boys have groomed their sound into a refreshing dose of 60's surf and 70's Camaro rock. With an audience that included half of the festival's performers, they were a highlight of the day and the crowd quickly gathered in an ideal moment of discovery. Yukon Blonde was what USS could not be - their set was reeking with the love of music and the thrill of losing yourself in it. Keep your eyes peeled on Sticky Magazine for an interview with Jeff Innes and Brandon Scott to talk about the tour life and the happiness of Charlie Brown.
Death From Above 1979
Most of the crowd left as their distortion growled after their set of trademarked garage-rock. Even though bassist Jesse Keeler spent most of the time admiring the specs on his equipment, his reunited chemistry with Sebastien Grainger sounded delightfully raw. Other than delivering infectious jams from their only album, 2004's You're A Woman, I'm A Machine, Grainger took time to riff on Rob Ford and other Toronto mayors, calling them "fucking pigs." While their tunes might be more suited for a grungy club, the crowd tossed eachother around in a satisfied fit. And there might have been a new song or two, though there has not been any official announcement of another release.
In their sixth appearance at the festival, Billy Talent's leader Ben Kowalewicz sprinted onto stage and fueled each track with well-balanced joy and grit. It's good to note that he was also the only artist I noticed that acknowledged the recent death of Radiohead's drum tech Scott Johnson at this Downsview venue.
A decade into their career, Billy Talent's success story is cemented in this radio station. From the nostalgic plucks of "Try Honesty" to the hellish groove that drives "Devil In A Midnight Mass" through your spine. Best part of it all, they are alive and they are still hungry.