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Event Review

Field Trip Festival – Fort York and Garrison Common, June 4 – 5, 2016



Review and Photos by Andrew Horan

The 2016 edition of Toronto’s Field Trip was a bit like the weather; the good far outweighed the bad.

A sudden downpour on the second day of the festival forced the event to shut down for three hours. Guests who were evacuated to Fort York’s visitor’s center were treated to impromptu acoustic sets by Dear Rouge and Kevin Drew.

The first day of the event started out promisingly with Toronto electronic quartet Kilimanjaro playing their Junior Boys-influenced songs for the growing crowd. Over on the mainstage, Montreal’s Heartsteets entertained the audience that was trickling in with their laidback brand of hip-hop, providing the perfect soundtrack to the sunny afternoon.

Field Trip may have had a stellar line-up but moving between the two stages proved to be a bit of a juggling act. New York’s Tor Miller joked that he had played Toronto so many times he wondered when he was going to receive his honorary citizenship. His songs varied from a heartfelt ode to “crust punks” (Upper-class kids in NYC slumming it) to his current single ‘Carter and Cash’.

On the second stage, Most People kept the audience entertained with their dance rock, tossing flowers into the crowd at the end. The party atmosphere continued on the second stage with Toronto’s The Beaches. There’s a definite 90’s feel to the band’s tune and singer Jordan Miller has a great stage presence.

Australian singer Meg Mac proved to be one of the highlights of the weekend with her powerful voice and R ‘n B/Soul songs. Her set at Field Trip was her first Canadian performance. Hopefully, it won’t be her last!

Toronto brother/sister duo Brave Shores kept up a good between-song banter, sharing stories about the dagger King Tut was buried with being made of metal from a meteor. The band’s catchy indie pop songs were yet another good fit for the sunny weather. They wrapped things up with their hit’ Never Come Down’.

This was Australia’s Boy and Bear`s first Canadian visit during the summer, they joked that they didn’t know that Canada had summers. The band had good energy and their earnest country-rock/roots song were well received with the audience cheering at the start of several songs.

It was easy to play spot the influence during Bully‘s set, which they wore a bit too plainly, but they did joke with the audience and shared several amusing anecdotes between their grungy tunes.

Santigold had an elaborate stage set-up that necessitated several wardrobe changes. Her electro songs and set seemed to be making a commentary on modern consumerist culture. She doubtlessly annoyed security when she invited several audience members on stage and gushed that one dancer was “adorable”.

Holy Fuck showcased several songs from their new release Congrats, kicking off their set with the album’s first track ‘Chimes Broken’.

Toronto’s July Talk showed how much a relentless touring schedule has benefitted them. The band kicked off their set with their new single ‘Push and Pull’ and showcased several new songs as well as old favorites such as ‘Guns and Ammunition’ and ‘Paper Girl’.

Jazz Cartier took to the stage nearly 20 minutes late and admittedly, his overuse of a hip-hop air horn and a sampled vocal purring “Jacuzzi” proved to be a bit grating. He still did a good job getting the crowd on their feet and kept up a good but awkward banter while dealing with technical difficulties.

The National were introduced by Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and took to the stage to The Tragically Hip’s ‘Courage’. Frontman Matt Berninger was either hunched over the mic or moved restlessly around the stage, belting out the tunes. A long time fan of Toronto singer Hayden, Berninger invited him on stage for ‘I Need My Girl’.

The band trotted out several new songs as well as playing old favorites, ‘Trouble Will Find Me’, ‘Sometimes I Don’t Think’ and more.

Day two dawned promisingly enough and the sun remained out for Kalle Mattson and Charlotte Day Wilson‘s sets’ Mattson started out the day on the second stage with his well-played indie rock tunes, capping off his set with his hit ‘Avalanche’ while Wilson brought a jazzy feel to the mainstage.

Halfway through Jason Collett‘s second stage set, he was ordered to pull the plug when the dark clouds that blew in unleashed torrential rain moments later. After a three hour delay, the audience was allowed back and Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires kicked the second half of the day off with their soul, R ‘n B and Motown-influenced songs. Bradley was a veritable dynamo, showcasing his strong vocals and great dance moves.

Elliot Sumner played her distorted, shoegaze-influenced songs to a small crowd. Back on the mainstage, DIIV‘s Z. Cole Smith wondered how they would follow Charles Bradley before launching into distorted pop tunes. Ra Ra Riot‘s energy level proved to be infectious and by the end of their set, most of the audience was dancing along to their indie rock songs. Of Montreal brought a showy and weird feel to their set with elaborate costumes and an introduction that called to mind a preacher at a tent revival.

Basia Bulat‘s set was an equal mix of songs from her new album Good Advice and her older material. At one point, she jokingly asked if she could play some folk songs. Secret City labelmates Plants and Animals wrapped up the day on the second stage.

Robyn brought a rave-like atmosphere to the mainstage. One song led into the next, lending a mixtape feel to the first part of her set. The second half had more of a structured feel with the music running the gamut from 80’s style synth-pop to the electronic and house she’s known for.

The elaborate stage set-up featuring spinning mirrors, which at one point she was involved in a tug of war with a dancer. Throughout the set, she was joined by other dancers.

It was a satisfying conclusion to a day that had a disappointing start.

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