Living that Field Trip Life: Day 2

Sunday, June 8, 2014

In stark contrast to the previous day, there was the promise of rain in the low-hanging clouds as Day 2 of Field Trip got underway on the Fort York stage. Flanked by a couple of backup singers and with just a laptop providing backing tracks behind her, 2013 Polaris Prize short-lister Zaki Ibrahim exuded a mighty sense of confidence in both her lyrics and stage presence. The tribalesque grooves portrayed her South African roots and songs like “Kids are Talking” and “Draw the Line” had that uplifting effect that made your heart feel like you too would “find [your] way.” It was great to finally have the opportunity to see and understand what the Polaris buzz had been about – Ibrahim’s enthusiasm just to be a part of the festival was also most refreshing.

Toronto’s River Tiber took the Fort York stage next. The locals had a large contingency of fans sporting their merch out for them. While the band’s ambient rock relied a little too heavily on expanses of hazy distortion for my personal tastes, multi-instrumentalist frontman Tommy Paxton-Beesley sure knew how to work the crowd. The perogies I snacked on during their set were also sadly a bit of a disappointment.

Hip hop-inspired jazz trio BADBADNOTGOOD stimulates all of your senses while simultaneously blowing your mind with just the means of piano, bass, and drums. Adding some sax to their instrumental cover of Flying Lotus’ “Putty Boy Strut” had the growing Fort York stage crowd fully becoming putty in their hands. They also brought out two of the members of River Tiber to add some brass to the already utterly epic “Kaleidoscope” from III. If that wasn’t climactic enough, there soon appeared a crowdsurfing lion (well, someone dressed as a lion) to further rile up the audience. Running out of set time they made a final request of the crowd “If you’ve got it in you, go as hard as you can, as fast as you can,” resulting in a positive eruption of dancing in response to “Bastard / Lemonade,” further cementing the fact that this band’s true genius is not to be missed.

Still coming down from the high provided by BBNG, it was time to relocate to the Garrison Stage and secure a spot front and center for the much anticipated return of the Constantines. My entire review could be a series of puns, but I’ll just say there weren’t any “hard feelings” or hateful songs being sung from the crowd. Because “time can be overcome.” And those Cons-less years slipped effortlessly away as the band launched into “Nighttime/Anytime.” It was like they had never been gone. And as our reward for enduring those years on hiatus, time stood still and our youth was restored. Pretty backup vocals supplied by Jennifer Castle and Tamara Lindeman (The Weather Station) on “Soon Enough” had emotions running high, bringing tears to even my eyes. Frontman Bry Webb started a movement, and soon all arms were held up high for a full moment during “Shine a Light,” while a collective exhale was exuded during “Young Lions.” This was Cons’ kingdom and not even the rain could dampen a single mood. While they didn’t play ”Poison,” the lyric “when we dance the night belongs to us” rang in my thoughts long after their set ended. Because for that time they spent on stage, it was true. The Constantines were back and all was right in the world.

There was more than a slightly obvious switch-over in the crowd at Garrison Stage for Scottish trio Chvrches. The group’s brightly trance-like electronica from The Bones of What You Believe managed to break through the drizzly skies and sounded near perfect as compared to the tracks’ recorded counterparts. Knowing Lauren Mayberry’s voice would carry well across the far-reaches of the fields, it was time to go in search of further sustenance, this time in the form of a Kanga Australian meat pie and more Boreal gelato!

Toronto’s Fucked Up always know how to provoke a crowd (in a good way). Closing out the Fort York stage, frontman Damian Abraham didn’t waste any time, quickly hopping down off the stage to assail the audience from the photo pit – creating a mad media frenzy for the perfect photo op in the process of course. He also took advantage of the number of red beach balls making the rounds, tearing them apart to find new life as head pieces for himself and a number of lucky individuals up front. Antics aside, there is something positively powerful about Abraham’s aggression to remind you what it means to be alive. By far the loudest band of the weekend lineup, the power of punk rock also managed to bring out the sun for the first time all day. Introducing the audience to their new album Glass Boys, a number of special guests joined the band on stage, including George Pettit (Alexisonfire) and Gord Downie (Tragically Hip), though none was sweeter than the moment with Abraham’s son Holden on his shoulders, singing along to “The Other Shoe.”

There will never exist a better or more appropriate finale to Field Trip than Toronto darlings Broken Social Scene who once again reunited for the festival. The collective proclaimed their love for their city “We’re from Toronto, and we’ll always be from Toronto” to the backdrop of a picture perfect sunset. Surrounded by old and new friends, it was a perfect ending to the weekend, and a reminder of “Toronto the Good” and all there is to love about our city.

Just two years old, Field Trip has quickly become a most enjoyable way to welcome the summer festival season – I’ve already got my backpack packed and am eagerly anticipating next year’s event!

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Categories: Field Trip 2014


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