by Elena Gritzan
The past few days have been a whirlwind of concerts: twenty bands, four venues and four nights of Wavelength’s 12th Anniversary festival. Diversity is the main strength of the festival: this weekend I have seen everything from a calypso jazz band to an energetic electronic two-piece to bands that brought a lot of noise with their guitars. Toronto really does have something special going on, in the wide array of music available here and the dedicated community around to support it. No, we do not have a “scene” or a definitive sound, but that is exactly the strength of Toronto’s music, there is a lot of talent in pretty much every genre.
The final night of the festival took place at the current home of the Wavelength music series (they now put on shows monthly, keep an eye out for it!), the Garrison at Dundas and Ossington. The venue was rather packed for a Sunday night (although, in fairness, today is a holiday). I saw the first three bands play. The usual excuses: PS I Love You played too late in the night for my TTC-dependent self, and I’ll be honest in that hardcore rockers Burning Love were not really my thing (though the crowd was definitely loving it). I am actually going to do this one in reverse order because that is how excited I am about the opening band.
Two-piece band Army Girls excited the crowd with garage-style rock built with guitar and drums. I instantly recognized singer Carmen Elle (I saw her play with Donlands & Mortimer just two weeks ago), and she brought a lot of the charisma that she brings to that band on the stage here.
Before was Guelph rapper Motёm, who played a set composed entirely of debut songs. He brought fake candles onto the stage (apparently something he only did for Wavelength – lucky us?) and when his beats started, he started dancing. There was a brief moment where I wondered what exactly was happening – most concerts do not involve watching the performer dance around to their pre-recorded music for ten minutes. But then I started to get into it. Like, really into it. There is no hesitation in Motёm’s performance. He’s confident, quirky and full of hooks.
The first band of the night, two-piece Most People, was a very pleasant surprise for me. They loop guitar, bass and percussion, as well as playing sounds from a laptop, to create dreamy pop. The set both began and ended with some “oohs” and was catchy as anything. They were giving away free demos at the show (you can download the same demo for free at their bandcamp page), and it has been on repeat for me all morning. Their psychedelic pop translates well in the studio, although a lot of the fun is watching them build the layers and see how two people can create such a sound. They are definitely my favourite discovery from the past four days.
I was trying to think of what my favourite performance of the festival was, but honestly I am hitting a wall with the question. I fell in love with Slim Twig on the first night, Bonjay blew me away on the second, and Sandro Perri had me entranced (predictably, his Impossible Spaces was one of my favourite albums last year). That is definitely the sign of a good festival. After four days of finding new venues all over downtown, listening to a disparate group of bands, I can firmly say that Toronto’s music community is alive and well. Great things are happening musically, and there are people out there gobbling it right up. Wavelength’s long run as a curator and supporter probably has a lot to do with that.