Edgefest, presented by 102.1 The Edge, made its reappearance in Toronto after the 2010 hiatus. While the event was not nearly as packed as I’ve seen Downsview Park (or other Edgefests, for that matter), it was still a great turnout and the vibe was wonderful. On top of all the great music, the sun was shining and music lovers were getting their tan/burn on (quite the opposite from 2009’s rainy festival with mudslides throughout the Park). With the exception of the last two acts on the main stage (A Perfect Circle, Rise Against) and one other band (Red Bacteria Vacuum), the day was focused on Canadian talent. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day.
Sandman Viper Command (XM Side Stage)
While Dinosaur Bones was opening up the main stage and totally making Toronto proud, Burlington’s Sandman Viper Command was absolutely owning the side stage. Notably, the band had given out free t-shirts asking “What is a Sandman Viper Command?” Nearly everyone watching was proudly wearing their shirt (and those shirts were spotted everywhere throughout the day!). It was early, so the crowd was still small, but the guys certainly rocked out enough to win over their new shirt-bearing fans.
Next up on the main stage was The Reason. Opening up with “Come and Go,” it was great to see these Hamilton rockers on the big stage. A particular highlight of the set happened to be a cover of Sloan’s “Underwhelmed”, but throughout the set guitarist James “Cubby” Nelan’s rambunctious energy was fascinating to watch. The crowd, feeding off of the band’s energy, aided frontman Adam White in an “Edgefest” chant, as the band headed off stage. Though their set was done, the band made appearances on stage throughout the day to support their friends, definitely making the most out of the Festival experience.
Mockingbird Wish Me Luck (XM Side Stage)
While I was watching The Reason on the main stage, Rachel got some great photos of Mockingbird Wish Me Luck over at the side stage.
Arkells (Main Stage)
By the time Arkells, who opened up with new single “Whistleblower,” hit the stage, the Park was filling up quite nicely. If there was any doubt how many Arkells fans were present, it became obvious by the crowd’s response when frontman Max Kerman asked, “Do you think in 2016 we’ll be headlining this motherfucker?” As a treat, Arkells brought out members of The Reason and Dinosaur Bones for a cover of Bryan Adams’ “Run To You”. As if that wasn’t enough of a treat for their fans, their big set closer was “John Lennon” featuring Tokyo Police Club’s David Monks on guitar and Dinosaur Bones’ Dave Wickland on saxophone. What a great party on stage!
Harlan Pepper (XM Side Stage)
While Arkells were still on stage, Rachel checked out Harlan Pepper.
Tokyo Police Club (Main Stage)
There is something so fresh about Tokyo Police Club. Perhaps it’s frontman David Monks’ cool stage presence or keyboardist Graham Wright’s “I <3 R3” shirt that had all the indie kids smiling. While the crowd was singing along to newer songs from Champ (including personal favourite “Not Sick”), the older tunes really had fans belting out along with the band. The band ended their set with an old favourite – “Your English is Good.”
The Sheepdogs (XM Side Stage)
The Sheepdogs’ fans were so incredibly loud with the crowd yelling and cheering for these mid-70s style rockers. A lot of attention has come their way recently, as they have the chance to be on the cover of Rolling Stone (stay tuned to Jimmy Fallon on August – to find out if they won!). “I Don’t Know” was the absolute highlight of the set, with loud fans singing along.
The Weakerthans (Main Stage)
While The Weakerthans represent some of the greatness in Canadian music, it was clear that much of the crowd wasn’t there for them. Still, songs like “Aside” and “The Reasons” are smile-inducing and “One Great City” was a captivating performance. It’s a shame that so much of the crowd was simply waiting for A Perfect Circle and Rise Against at this point, but the loyal fans were singing along anyway.
Hollerado (XM Side Stage)
Hollerado closed out the side stage and it was an absolute party! Throughout their set, they had friends jump on stage, including members of The Reason, Dinosaur Bones, and Sandman Viper Command. Dinosaur Bones’ Branko Scekic even joined Hollerado on stage to freestyle during “Americanarama.” They had their signature confetti launched numerous times and I caught a few people twirling around in silly string. The highlight of set was their cover of “Rockin’ in the Free World” that they always do so well. Amazing!
A Perfect Circle (Main Stage)
Fans of A Perfect Circle had been waiting a long time to see the band again, as it’s been seven years since they’ve toured. While Maynard Keenan stayed toward the back of the stage, his voice still infiltrated the park clearly. One of the highlights of A Perfect Circle’s set was a cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine”. The set was relatively short with no banter. After a quick thanks, the band was gone.
Rise Against (Main Stage)
Although I certainly watched many fans leave after A Perfect Circle, the draw that Rise Against had for their set was overwhelming. Rise Against is no stranger to an Edgefest show, so it wasn’t surprising that frontman Tim McIlrath expressed a lot of love for Canada and Canadian bands, despite the patriotic backdrop with a fist against an American flag. The set was dominated by newer songs, which encouraged fans to wait for older favourites like “Swing Life Away.” For those who hung around all day just to see Rise Against, they made it worth the wait.