Urban Planner is Torontoist’s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email all of its details—as well as images, if you’ve got any—to [email protected].
Laugh Sabbath celebrates its fourth anniversary this weekend. Photo by Joe Fuda.
This weekend in Toronto, check out revenge of the nerds at Fan Expo, a reading festival for kids, the Toronto Chinatown Festival, a green street party at DuSpa, Lou Barlow and Wye Oak at the Horseshoe, an interview with curmudgeon Ken Russell, and Laugh Sabbath celebrating its fourth anniversary.
FESTIVAL: The nerds are back in town for Fan Expo Canada, the annual summit for all things fandom. The convention was first held in 1995, where it was devoted only to comic books, but it soon expanded its mandate to include five genres: comic, anime, sci-fi, horror, and gaming. During this year’s festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday, over six hundred exhibitors and fifty-nine thousand fans (
some most in costume) will pour into the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Joining them will be this year’s roster of celebrity guests, including Stan Lee, William Shatner, Batman (Adam West), Robin (Burt Ward), Catwoman (Julie Newmar), James Marsters (Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), David Cronenberg, and many, many more. Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front Street West); Saturday 10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–6 p.m.; adults: Saturday $35, Sunday $29; kids: $10.
MUSIC: Summer’s wrapping up, and opportunities for outdoor music enjoyment are becoming fewer and farther between. So Lexus is sponsoring a series of outdoor concerts this weekend in the Distillery District, featuring performances by velvet-voiced songstress Lily Frost and piano-based pop-rockers The Midway State on Saturday, followed by Charlottetown’s exuberant indie outfit The Paper Lions on Sunday. (It’s all in honour of the new CT200h.) Distillery District (55 Mill Street), Saturday (Frost at 12 p.m., The Midway State at 5 p.m.) and Sunday (Paper Lions at 3 p.m.), FREE.
WORDS: So, the kids go back to school soon, and chances are that in the heat of their summer shenanigans, they’ve forgotten how to read. To refresh their memories, the Toronto Public Library has organized a Book Bash. The bash will be packed with a line-up of children’s authors like Kenneth Oppel, Eric Walters, Barbara Reid, and Barbara Nichol. The party doesn’t stop there—there will also be a plethora of fun activities, including crafts, storytelling, puppet shows, and face-painting. North York Central Library (5120 Yonge Street) and Mel Lastman Square (5100 Yonge Street), Saturday 11 a.m.–4 p.m., FREE.
FESTIVAL: There are six Chinatowns in the GTA, but you’re probably most familiar with the flagship location at Dundas and Spadina, which will be holding a festival on Saturday and Sunday. There will be Chinese opera performances, folk art, calligraphy exhibits, and sports such as cuju (Chinese football) and featherball. The biggest draw will be a food carnival, where delectable treats like Mongolian barbecue, dim sum, Chiu Chow fish balls, and Shanghai pot stickers will be available, along with Taiwanese bubble tea and Hong Kong–style egg puffs. Chinatown (Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West); Saturday 12–8 p.m., Sunday 12–6 p.m.; FREE.
PARTY: Back for its second year, Light Up Our Alley is a project organized by the Duspa Corner Collective, a group pushing for green cultural development in the Dupont and Spadina neighbourhood. The all-day street party will include a number of family-friendly attractions, like a recording booth, bouncy castle, mural painting, hula-hooping, face-painting, a clothing swap, bike repair, and services from local vendors. Bands like Run With the Kittens, Barn Owl, and Honest I’s are scheduled to perform, and there will be DIY workshops on subjects including henna, dance, massage, yoga, and build-your-own-instrument. Alley at southwest corner of Dupont and Spadina avenues, Saturday 1–9 p.m., FREE.
MUSIC: Lou Barlow likes to invent genres. His first big success came with Dinosaur Jr., the influential ’80s and ’90s alt-rock trio that made waves with their innovative use of distortion and feedback. Sebadoh, an indie rock outfit, was originally formed as Barlow’s side project, but eventually emerged as a pioneering influence in the advent of the lo-fi subgenre. Barlow, also a renowned solo artist, will be taking time out of his busy schedule this weekend to perform alongside punk rock trio The Missingmen. Also on the bill are indie-pop duo Wye Oak and alternative four-piece band The Caraways. The Horseshoe Tavern (368 Queen Street West); Saturday 9:45 p.m.; $13.50/advance, $15/door.
FILM: Ken Russell‘s The Devils thrust the British filmmaker into the spotlight in the ’70s, shocking audiences with its graphic horror, sexuality, and church-bashing. Sounds awesome, right? Lucky for you, the Bloor is screening an uncut version of the film this Sunday as part of Rue Morgue‘s Festival of Fear. Even better, the evening will feature a live interview between Richard Crouse and Russell, a notorious curmudgeon known for his frustrating interviews (see his monosyllabic exchange with Philip Brown from this week’s issue of Eye Weekly). The Bloor Cinema (506 Bloor Street West), Sunday 9 p.m., $15.
COMEDY: Since the ’80s, The Rivoli has been one of Toronto’s best-known hubs for live comedy. It’s famous for giving The Kids in the Hall their big break, and other famous performers have included Lewis Black, Janeane Garofalo, and even Robin Williams. One of the Rivoli’s more recent traditions is Laugh Sabbath, a weekly Sunday-night show that brings together a group of Toronto’s leading alternative stand-up and sketch comics. Laugh Sabbath celebrates its fourth anniversary this weekend with performances by Nick Flanagan, Sara Hennessey, Tim Gilbert, and more. If uproarious entertainment isn’t enough to lure you away from your Sunday night TV schedule, early birds get free food with admission. The Rivoli (332 Queen Street West); doors (and food) Sunday at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m.; $5.