Local music lovers celebrated the end of an era over the weekend as the fifth and final edition of Wavelength’sALL CAPS! Island Festival took place at Artscape Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island.
The festival featured 12 bands over two days, as well as art exhibitions, a giant game of Jenga, a late-night dance party on Saturday, and endless trips to the beach. Roughly 300 people attended, more than half of whom camped out on the island on Saturday night. The bands were primarily local, although Saturday was headlined by Brooklyn-based electronic weirdos The Blow, while Sunday’s main attraction was a high-energy set from Halifax’s Rich Aucoin.
ALL CAPS! and Wavelength programmer Ryan McLaren said he felt the festival had run its course, and that both he and Wavelength were ready to move on to new things.
“Wavelength is constantly trying to reinvent itself,” he explained. “We have a lot of really ambitious and interesting stuff coming up over the next year. Ending this festival frees us up to explore other ideas, and I want to be able to do some other things creatively myself.”
He said that when he started the festival, the goal was to provide Torontonian music lovers with something different.
“I feel like a lot of festivals are really focused on the idea of consumption. I wanted to create something that was really focused on experience. I wanted to create something with less of a barrier between audience and performer.”
He certainly succeeded this weekend. Festivalgoers were treated to the raucous, rockabilly howl of Catl. and the airy, post-R&B of Bizzarh. Rich Aucoin, who closed the weekend, was received with particular enthusiasm. The crowd managed to match his almost-manic energy, which wasn’t easy, considering the fact he played part of his set in the middle of the crowd, under a giant parachute, and kept hitting the audience with confetti cannons.
“He’s amazing,” said Magneta Lane frontwoman Lexi Valentine, whose band played on Sunday afternoon. “It’s like you’re joining this cult of fun and you can’t resist.”
Valentine said her band was thrilled to be part of the final ALL CAPS!. She added that while playing Wavelength shows was a crucial part of the group’s development, Magenta Lane had never managed to play, or go to, ALL CAPS! before.
“We’re always on tour or away when it’s happening,” she said. “It’s awesome to be part of it.”
Wavelength co-founder Jonny Dovercourt said that he and the rest of the Wavelength braintrust were particularly careful in selecting bands for the final festival. Some acts, like Catl. and The Blow, were repeats from pervious years, and others were newcomers. Plus, there were some environmental factors to consider.
“It’s the island,” Dovercourt said, “so we wanted to have a little bit of island soul, but with our own irreverent indie-rock take…plus you have to think about what’s going to play at sunset and things like that.”
He adds that while this is the final ALL CAPS!, he’s not ruling out having Wavelength do something else on the island in future.
“I can’t say either way,” he said. “I can’t promise that anything else will happen, but we definitely want to leave that door open.”