The Garrison at Fort York has become the go-to festival grounds in Toronto this summer, and with good reason. Avoiding the annoyance of getting to either Downsview Park or the ferry to Toronto Island, Arts&Crafts’ inaugural Field Trip provided a great showcase for the label’s roster and the treat of seeing You Forgot It in People performed in its entirety by Broken Social Scene.  Add the multitude of food options, great beer provided by Amsterdam Brewery, and other events, and it proved the grounds could be used with great success. The Toronto Urban Roots Festival was a different beast, stretched over four days, but it managed to weather a torrential downpour on the final day, ending with a triumphant set by Belle & Sebastian. So when the Grove Music Festival was forced to evacuate its original location in Niagara-on-the-Lake (while losing acts like Bob Mould and Macklemore), it seemed the infrastructure for a successful day was already in place.

However, the Grove Music Festival proved to be a poor facsimile of previous events, suffering from several disappointing developments. The set times for Palma Violets and Wavves were swapped with zero notice. Drinks were available for the ridiculous price of $11 a can, while the only water available was some sort of strange brand of “sport water.” The Jagermeister tent in the middle of the crowd served to block sightlines, and was complete with staff obnoxiously squirting passersby with super soakers on a rather mild day. There was a lack of merch from any of the headliners, to the point where the tent was selling discounted Edgefest shirts from a few days before. The forty minute set times for the likes of Hot Chip, Girl Talk and the Gaslight Anthem were ludicrously short. Earl Sweatshirt’s 20 minute set was its own joke. But most damning of all was the atrocious sound mix. The vocals were muffled and at times inaudible, particularly during Hot Chip’s otherwise stellar set. These issues seemed to be fixed by the time Phoenix hit the stage, but it cast a pall over the day. The other gripes could have been forgiven had the sound not been an issue.

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— , August 9, 2013    Comments Off on The Grove Music Festival

Since last year’s release of Night Ripper, Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) has gained gushing praise from all over the blogosphere (read: Pitchfork blogs on him daily.  Oh Pitchfork, how one dimensional you are).  In an effort to bring moderation to coverage of this laptop pirate from my hometown, I submit the following points.

1) Night Ripper is an absolute triumph.  The record spans 40 minutes, includes over 150 sample sources, and thus plays like a pixie-stick powered romp through top 40 radio, your mother’s oldies station, dirty south rap, indie dance rock, and literally everything else that you can think of.  I’ve been listening to the record for over 9 months now, long enough for any novelty factor to leave, and I still absolutely lose my mind on ‘Smash Your Head’ when Biggie Smalls raps over Tiny Dancer.

2) Gillis’ other work is spotty, at best.  Unstoppable, which preceded Night Ripper, is largely a hit and miss affair.  As well, Girl Talk’s remix work varies widely – His remix of Grizzly Bear’s “Knife” is perfectly executed (thanks to a heavy handed use of Clipse), whereas his take on “Let’s Call it Off” by Peter Bjorn and John dumbs down an excellent original to a pseudo-steel drum / music box failure.

I don’t know whether Girl Talk will have longevity as an artist.  It’s unlikely that another record like Night Ripper could work just as well given the basic premise of his music – hyperactive mashup.  I feel that, even though the novelty factor of Night Ripper doesn’t leave after multiple listens, it could leave with multiple records.  However, if Gillis continues his success, I am excited to hear what’s next.

Grizzly Bear – Knife (Girl Talk Remix)


— , November 11, 2007    1 Comment