The hot summer weather had returned to Toronto just in time for Edgefest 3, warming the sand that makes TD Echo Beach such a great venue for a summer festival. While happy toes reveled in the freedom of sinking into sand, a cool breeze from the lake provided relief from the August sun, resulting in perfect conditions for the third installment of this year’s Edgefest.
As the gates opened, smiling concert-goers were rushing towards the main stage, where a double or triple line quickly formed at the fence. With or without camping chairs, these dedicated fans made sure get as close as possible to their favourite bands that were still hours away.
Across from the Emerging Artist Stage, a cozy area with sand and Muskoka chairs provided an excellent vantage point for the start of the performances, that is, until dancing fans obscured the view, encouraging everyone to stand and dance along. The oversized chairs were the most popular, but plenty of smaller ones gave fans the option of enjoying great rock music in a relaxed and unique manner.
One of last year’s finalists at The Edge’s Next Big Thing, Gray and her band braved the heat and brought upbeat and infectious tunes to eager music lovers: “Our songs just got fried, so we’re going to have to do this organically,” which elicited cheers from the growing crowd.
BESTiE continued to energize the audience with indie pop songs and quirky song names, such as “Sriracha”, an ode to the good kind of burning sensation an intense kiss can bring to the lips.
K.I.D. (Kids In Despair ) wrapped up their “I Still Live With My Mom” summer tour with a dedicated yet laid-back performance of solid garage pop-rock. They drew laughs from the audience with stage banter such as “Have you ever been so high you couldn’t get up to pee?” and ended their set with their highly popular song “I Wish I Was Your Cigarette.”
Toronto native Coleman Hell continued firing up the audience with his unique genre-blending of hip-hop, electronic and pop music. The drummer was playing while standing and was raising his sticks in the air, forcing the audience to mirror the energy on stage. Hell made sure to engage the crowd throughout the performance and reminded them to take advantage of non-working days by having another beer. The concert-goers that rushed to the main stage to catch a good spot for the next artist, Scott Helman, missed out on an excellent rendition of Hell’s catchy summer hit “2 Heads” which concluded what had been outstanding performances by promising emerging artists.
The food trucks, by now a staple at every music festival, provided a range of tasty options, from vegetarian burgers to the famous Smoke’s Poutinery, as well as an ice-cream truck offering cool treats.
Scott Helman commanded the imposing main stage, constantly moving from one end to the other, in order to reach audiences on all sides. His performance was dynamic and lively and he further showcased his talent and powerhouse voice with his seemingly effortless singing. The Toronto native was feeding off the energy of the crowd as genuine happiness shone from the stage as a testament to his humble side and his love of performing. Fan favourites, such as “That Sweater” and, of course, “Bungalow”, easily blended with the rest of the set, leading the audience to raise their arms up high and at one point I even spotted someone holding up their baby, in true “Lion King” fashion. Although touring with the likes of Walk Off The Earth, Helman still gets excited every time he performs, so it came as no surprise when he asked the audience to raise their arms again so he can take a picture, thus immortalizing us as the amazing Edgefest 3 crowd.
Originally from South Africa, but currently calling Arizona their home, the Kongos reminded of a trusty diesel engine that may be a tad slow at first but that can be counted on to deliver consistent and reliable power. The crowd was enthralled by their percussion heavy, foot-stomping sound and sent waves of energy towards the stage, as they created concert ripples in the sand beneath their feet. The artists were focused on delivering a tight instrumental performance, yet still looked like they were having as much fun as the audience, with some members whipping their hair consistently yet never missing a beat. While usually hidden at the back, the drum set was at the front of the stage, showcasing drummer Jesse’s skills, in sync with the rest of the Kongos brothers, Dylan playing the bass guitar, Daniel on guitar, and Johnny adding a folky spin with his accordion. At the end of their set, the audience members were wearing their best picture faces, as yet another proud band treated us like celebrities by insisting on taking a picture.
The highly anticipated headliners, Canada’s own Mother Mother had secured a large and excited crowd, ready to be blown away. The vocal harmonies of the 5-piece band complemented their alternative indie rock musical style and surprised by raising the energy level of the audience even more, if that were possible. The band has been consistently churning up hits for almost a decade, providing fans with ample sing-along opportunities. Whether rushing for a drink refill or towards the little blue boxes, Edgefest attendees never stopped chanting the anthem-like tunes, as they turned every step into a funky dance move. People let their hair down and connected with fellow festival goers, whether dancing together or bonding over their favourite Mother Mother songs.
The magnificent light show added another layer of sensory stimulation, as spotlights seemed to blur the line between fans and performers. At times, fog enveloped the band members, only to reveal them during peaks in their songs, teasing the audience like a game of peek-a-boo. Frontman Ryan Guldemond reminisced about older times, when they played smaller venues, like Sneaky Dee’s, while thanking the audience not just for showing up and supporting them, but also for knowing how to give back.
The third and last installment of 2015’s Edgefest left smiles left and right, as powerful performances by emerging artists created a united and fun atmosphere that was only solidified by the expert delivery of the musicians on the main stage. A hot sunny day, filled with cool drinks, great food and excellent music, what a great way to celebrate summer!