With summer on the horizon, the music festival scene is about to come into full swing. Get ready for some serious FOMO feels.
Years ago there were one or two festivals in total over the summer in Ontario, and odds were you went to both. It felt more like a pilgrimage, with costumes and drum circles… wait, that’s still just Hillside. Now there are about a dozen just in Toronto and GTA alone. Do I go to all of them? If I go to only one, which one?! I’m getting hives just thinking about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE MUSIC, I WANT ALL THE MUSIC. But you guys, this is getting a bit out of hand. Even the internet agrees. Honest Music Festival Commercial is a spot on video (it’s funny because it’s true) done by College Humor. The Onion piece on another upcoming festival is a parody, but not that far off. Music man Jack White even has a bit of a love/hate relationship with festivals. Is this festival epidemic healthy?
Let’s consider what’s on the musical smorgasbord for this spring/summer:
- Field Trip June 6–7
- Bestival June 12–13 (check out our preview)
- Digital Dreams June 27–28
- WayHome July 24–26
- Hillside July 24–26
- Veld Aug 1–2
- Riverfest Aug 14–16
- Riotfest Sept 19–20
- Turf Sept 16–21
Now these might not appeal to every palate. Some may inspire an instant #hellno for you and that’s cool; I appreciate refined tastes. Some of you may be all “where’s my country music festivals, y’all?” Instant #hellno from me – I have my musical limits. Let’s just all agree there are plenty of options.
This plethora of musical acts can’t be all bad, right? Great acts are coming through Toronto; some that in the past would not have even come to Canada, scared away by our ice flows and polar bears. The increase in festivals highlights our thriving music scene. You can expand your musical horizons by losing your event map and going to the wrong stage. There’s an even greater chance that you can say you met the love of your life at a music festival. You’ll become an expert island ferry-goer, without the temptation to throw any bros overboard. You don’t have far to fly/drive/hitchhike to stand in a huge field. Your Instagram photos can include the #CNTower. You might actually recognize some of the food vendors. You can spend the money saved by living a crowded TTC ride away from the venue on extra (like maybe 2 more) beers. There is a decent chance there will be good Toronto craft beer there – one can only hope, anyway.
But… [holds up one finger and sips beer] this musical excess can’t be all good either. A 45 minute festival set just isn’t the same as an intimate hour and a half set at a great venue. The acts you usually want to see are the “small font” acts with 30 minute sets in the early afternoon.You may have to choose between brunch and your favourite unknown artist.
Festival themes no longer seem to be a thing. Is this festival rock, punk, electronic, or easy listening? Maybe festival organizers are more about getting as many recognizable names as possible. Or maybe it is a systemic issue with the blurred lines that are music genres. And let’s not forget poor Mother Nature. Yes, we call her names sometimes, but these festivals take their toll. Some communities have even tried to kill the WayHome festival. Also… sometimes too much choice is just not fun. Well, maybe not for beer, one can only drink so much of the crappy domestic varieties.
If this summer is a sign of things to come, get ready to decide which weekend not to go to a festival. As ridiculous as that honest music festival commercial is, festivals are a cash cow. The organizers know this; people love music (crazy, I know!) Expect some hard choices in the years to come.