Aaaaaand we’re back! The Edgefest Summer Concert Series took over TD Echo Beach yesterday in a ridiculously awesome second part that channeled the best of 1990s alternative metal and new indie rock. The ground shook as Incubus, Deftones, The Bots, and the many fantastic emerging artists rocked Toronto Wednesday night. Those who missed out should be kicking themselves right about now, but fear not, for Edgefest 3 is right around the corner. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though. First, let’s talk about the awesome events that went down at Edgefest 2.
Moments after the gates opened, the snappily-dressed Niagara Falls pop-rockers, XPRIME, kicked the whole event off with their smooth, catchy tunes. It was a challenge not to tap a foot or nod a head to their contagiously fun songs while entering TD Echo Beach. What stands out most about XPRIME are the strong vocal harmonies between all the band members. Each member has a strong, unique voice that blends together with the rest of a band for one swirling, ear-pleasing sound. A solid selection of the best from both of their releases, “PM” and “The Album”, topped off their setlist and proved that they have the potential to be one of Ontario’s best new indie artists.
If rock n’ roll is what you were craving, then Brothers of North surely satisfied that need. Their balanced fusion of classic rock and new alternative turned many heads towards their stage. The four-piece Newmarket outfit has a lot of great things going for them: A very strong vocalist, shreddin’ guitar solos, and driving basslines. Their set consisted mainly of the stellar songs off of their recent EP, Stolen Cars. I personally enjoyed their hit song, “1990s”, a bit better live. It had some real punch to it. Overall, Brothers of North aren’t a band you want to sleep on. They have already put out some amazing music, and there is, undoubtedly, much more to come.
Gay Nineties, a chilled-out indie rock band from Vancouver followed up. The band has seen considerable success over the past few years with singles like “Letterman” and “Coming Together” hitting Canadian radio airwaves. Their performance was a mostly mellow one, with the exception of a few songs that kicked things up a notch, like “Hold Your Fire”. Though their stage presence may not have been the mightiest, their songs are undeniably catchy and well-written.
Playing over on the main stage were The Bots. These two Californian brothers brought raw, noisy garage punk and funk-inspired indie rock to the table, making them one of the most unique acts of the evening. Though only two musicians were on stage, the versatility and skill of both band members made up for the amount of empty space on stage. The Bots showed off their diversity as they bounced seamlessly between the blistering punk feel of “Northern Lights” to the Arctic Monkeys-esque hit “Blinded”. Frontman Mikaiah Lei makes prominent use of his many pedals, looping guitar riffs, and creating huge, heavy tones. The Bots are a band that still feel like they need to develop, even seeming a bit goofy at times during their set, but nonetheless a charming, talented duo with the weight to kick the Edgefest door off its hinges.
Deftones kicked off their set in the same way they kicked off their 1997 album Around the Fur : with the iconic riff of “My Own Summer (Shove It)”. If there is a song to get fans on their feet in a split second, this song is it. At this point, TD Echo Beach was filled with die-hard fans of the alt-metal legends, itching for the electrifying performance that they have come to expect. The thing is, Deftones have been a band for over 25 years now, and the constant touring has surely taken its toll on the members, right? Wrong. While some of the band members may have slowed down a bit over the years, frontman Chino Moreno still hits every note with soaring, melodic vocals, and nails every shout and scream of their most brutal songs. All of this while remaining the most energetic and fascinating member on stage. How he does it is beyond me. A deal with the devil, perhaps? Quite possibly. Second to Chino, drummer Abe Cunningham practically stole the show at times, banging out some incredible beats with unrelenting ferocity. As the set went on, you could see some of the members sweating it out, but they kept up their intensity throughout their hour-long set, an impressive feat to say the least.
The setlist was jam-packed with some of the finest songs by Deftones, as well as some pleasant surprises. “Rocket Skates” was an essential choice for the setlist. Having an entire crowd screaming “Guns, razors, knives” got the adrenaline going. “When Girls Call Boys” and “Lhabia” got many of the dedicated fans excited, as they aren’t frequent songs on Deftones’ setlists. The most memorable moment of the night came when Chino brought a guest up on stage to sing the part of Maynard James Keenan in “Passenger”. It was both heartwarming and awesome to watch a dedicated fan take the stage and live out his dream in front of thousands of people. Kudos to Deftones for giving a fan this opportunity and congratulations to you, random guy.
As the sun set on Echo Beach, Incubus began their long-awaited set with a gloriously epic intro into “Nice to Know You”. An energetic first few songs accompanied by an impressive light show helped maintain the momentum from the previous set. Right from the start, the first thing that hit me was how freakin’ good Brandon Boyd sounds live. Throughout the lengthy 19-song set, he didn’t falter once. Similar to the Deftones, Incubus’s drummer was an absolute machine, and was hard to keep your eyes off of. Aside from the musical performance, there was some memorable showmanship reminiscent of that of The Flaming Lips. A massive curved screen displaying atmospheric images or video went hand-in-hand with the light show. At one point, Boyd dawned a glowing robo-viking helmet for a few songs. Pretty damn cool.
Incubus performed the best of their discography, new and old, along with a few unexpected covers. A nice touch were several impressive extended instrumental versions of songs like “I Miss You” and “Vitamin”. The two most surprising and exciting moments of the set were a couple of great covers. A verse from Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” was incorporated into “Megalomaniac”. Incubus ended the show with a cover of The Beatles’ “She’s So Heavy”, which they fused with their own “A Crow Left of a Murder”.
And just like that, Edgefest 2 came to an end. Seven fantastic hours of talented musical acts made it one for the books. If you went, what did you think? Can Edgefest 3 top it? We’ll have to wait and see…