Photo by Frank Yang/Chromewaves.
Everyone seems to agree; V-Fest was (approximately) a gabillion times better this year than last year, with less last-minute cancellations, cantankerous islanders cutting short headliners’ sets (that, plus the noise bylaw), and a generally more buoyant mood to the whole affair. While Torontoist missed Day One due to familial obligations (everyone loves a wedding!), the less-sunny Day Two provided a lot more in big-name fun than its sunnier Saturday cousin.
Toronto’s own Postage Stamps were one of the first bands to kick the day off, and overcame unforeseen technical difficulties to produce one of the tightest sets they’ve performed in awhile. Their intricate, prog-y indie rock sounded great over the ample amplification of the mighty Budweiser Stage, and during the aforementioned-difficulties, bassist and vocalist Keith Hamilton treated the crowd to some beautiful impromptu “dancing.”
DD/MM/YYYY followed, and once again benefited from the crispness of sound provided by the stage’s monster sound rig. While the lyrical and thematic core of the band can easily go unnoticed in the wall-to-wall noise of a typical bar, the sonic separation provided by the outdoor setting allowed all the elements of the band’s sound to shine through clearly, and none benefited more than the vocals. An energetic set that saw one of the best side-stage turnouts of the day, DD/MM/YYYY really earned the crowd that developed to watch them.
While some might have predicated Explosions in the Sky to take home to award for most monstrous wall of sound, the coveted prize will more likely go to Scotland’s Biffy Clyro, whose massive row of amps made for a rib-crushing blast sound that betrayed the fact that the band only has three dudes. Playing a short but sweet set, the band announced their planned return later in the year with Queens of Stone Age. If you like rock ‘n’ roll music, for the love of God, go see this band.
Jamie-T, who is apparently shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, was either utter crap or unbelievably brilliant. This video, featuring Bob Hoskins for some reason, only confuses the situation further.
There’s no denying that Tokyo Police Club are really, really awesome. It’s impressive enough that this band went from playing Rancho Relaxo to performing for thousands of people on Centre Island in about a year, but when you consider that they’re probably younger than you are, it really puts life in perspective. Their set was a blast of frantic energy and was the first main stage performance to elicit a genuinely ecstatic reaction from the audience, one that continued for the rest of the day.
Across the island, Blonde Redhead offered up what was easily the day’s best performance; a mesmerizing meld of aggressive guitar work, lilting keyboard melodies, haunting vocals, and a strong percussive backbone, the band’s sonic intricacies were made all the more fascinating by their visual aesthetic. Two identical male twins a beautiful female––it doesn’t get much stranger or awesomer than that.
Performing to a surprisingly small crowd, the Constantines were amazing, as the Constantines generally are. Performing a new song and announcing Arts and Crafts as the home for their upcoming new record, the band appeared a little tired, but none the less performed with all the fury that their music is made of.
Metric sounded like Metric. If cocaine and dancing are your bag, this was probably awesome.
Explosions in the Sky came as close to anyone that day to touching the power of Blonde Redhead. As the (already dark) sky began to darken (further), the band’s explosive instrumentals provided a perfect soundtrack, and the accompanying cheesy light show offered an extra element of magic to the performance.
The Smashing Pumpkins played some new songs, then they played some old songs, then they played some new songs. All sounded terrible. The thirteen year-old post-grunge fan that lives inside Torontoist died a little. But then the ferry back to the mainland was beautiful, and everything was a little more okay. Next year will probably be even better.
All photos by Frank Yang/chromewaves.