Photograph by Jan Kucic-Riker

The Toronto Island Concert had many things working against it. Torontonians were busy constructing fake lakes for the G20 summit, thunderstorms were expected to figuratively and literally rain on our parade, and finally the past two years saw our beloved island at the mercy of public services and scheduling conflicts. But not this year, the show was scheduled, bands announced, and we at Ca Va Cool began planning pancake/beer brunches in anticipation of festival day. We faced hordes of security, eager fans, and sound checks on Queen Street as we thought to ourselves that the crowds must have started heading down to the water early – we soon found that the clamour was instead centered on Miley Cyrus’s recital for the upcoming MMVA’s. So we did what any self-deprecating music-lover would – bought crêpes and stood next to the mass of shrieking tweens to take in the glory that was Ms. Cyrus. Arriving at the waterfront we armed ourselves with SPF 60 sunblock, wristbands, and contempt for those that managed to snag a better spot on the ferry than ourselves.

There we stood in a sea of Converse, Keds, and Wayfarers, each person cooler than the next; we were on our way to hipster heaven. Upon reaching the gates we were greeted by security barking the seemingly endless list of items not permitted – coincidentally they were not wearing Converse, Keds, or Wayfarers and thus labeled pejoratively as “the man”. Determined not to be denied, we downed the contents of our unsealed water bottles, smuggled in chocolate chip granola bars, and argued for blankets as a staple of outdoor festivals rather than fire hazards. We had arrived with good karma; the sun shone brightly, concession stands challenged vast rows of Porta Potties, toddlers sported over-sized ear protection, and concert-goers shared in the joy of brilliant music. We can’t thank Collective Concerts enough for making this event possible, our lovely friends both old and new for stationary head-bobbing along with us, and all the music fans in Toronto for sharing in the sights and sounds of the Toronto Island Concert 2010. – Jan Kucic-Riker

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— , June 28, 2010    3 Comments

Photograph by Sam Javanrouh

There’s a day in June that occupies a special place in Torontonians hearts every year. Originally known as the Olympic Island Festival, the recently re-named Toronto Island Concert, is what many of my friends call their “favourite day of the summer”. Curated by Broken Social Scene and their label Arts&Crafts, the day-long mini-fest takes place South of the city, just a few kilometres off-shore from Toronto’s modest and un-scenic harbourfront, on one of the city’s most heavily protected natural gems, Olympic Island. With only a community in the hundreds that inhabits the Toronto Islands, their parks are some of the city’s most beautiful, their few domiciles are some of the city’s most demanded and their concert is one of the city’s most memorable.

After a two-year break from any performances on the island, one because of an unfortunate scheduling conflict last year, and the other unexplained the year previous, the memories of the day are starting to get fuzzy. Remember the year when Feist opened and played all of ‘The Reminder’ before anyone knew that ‘1,2,3,4’ would be a Sesame Street jam? Or how about that year when Canada’s music scene was finally en vogue internationally, after over a decade of indie rock triumphs domestically? Remember how this celebration was marked by Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene being on the same bill, collectively shouting back at the world “the kings are taking back their throne,” a phrase which packed so much punch, years before it found its home on Neon Bible’s ‘Intervention’? Oh, and then there was the time that J. Mascis joined a stage ramshackled-full of 8 electric guitarists and three drummers, spilling out into the audience, and played a song to close the night called ‘Guitar Symphony’ which has never seen the light of day, but was perhaps the strongest reminder of the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll the city has ever seen.

Indeed, the day-long festival has been home to some of the most memorable and important moments in Toronto’s music history. It’s also been home to some of the most memorable and important moments for this writer, personally. One way or another, the Island Concert marks a moment in the Summer around which old friends plan trips back to the city and everyone finds each other, ready to celebrate anything they can. The reunions start early in the day over beers and hugs, and end with the back-drop of a lit-up city, slow-dancing as long as you can before running to make the last ferry back to mainland.

Pavement – Cut Your Hair
Broken Social Scene – Cause = Time
Band of Horses – Our Swords
Beach House – Zebra

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— , June 18, 2010    5 Comments