Review by Marisa Martel and Winnie Surya. Edited by Savana Ogburn. The first weekend of July held some exciting and busy days for Toronto as they hosted the second annual Toronto Urban Roots Festival at the Garrison Commons at Fort York. Over the course of three days, people got to the chance to see many popular musical acts, most of which hailing from our very own city. Ranging from country, to indie, to jazz, to rock, there was something to be enjoyed by nearly every music fan in Toronto at this three-stage, weekend-long festival.

We kicked off day one of TURF with Mississippi-based band, The Weeks, who played a great opening set at the West Stage with their slightly Southern, but very rock-based sound. Ten minutes after, over at the East Stage, came Born Ruffians, an indie band based from Toronto. The band performed songs from their debut album Red, Yellow, and Blue as well as some from their recent release of Birthmarks, all of which were well-received by the crowd. A funny and memorable moment from Born Ruffians‘ set was when frontman Luke Lalonde asked for sunscreen from the crowd, and the sound guy ended up applying some sunscreen to bassist Mitch DeRosier; I mean, gotta stay protected under the sun, right?!

Local Natives were another crowd favourite; beach balls were flying over the crowd as the band performed their hits, as well as a cover of the Talking Heads‘, “Warning Sign”. The biggest act of the night was definitely Beirut, who captured everyone’s interest when they started off the set with their song, “Nantes”. Beirut‘s fusion of many genres and sounds kept the audience excited for their hour and a half set, making it a great way to end off the first day of TURF.

Day two was kicked off with one of my personal favourites, Andrew Jackson Jihad, who had played the previous night at Lee’s Palace as a part of the Club Bonus Series. Next, over at the East Stage were the Drive-By Truckers, followed by veteran punk band, Violent Femmes, over at the West Stage. The Gaslight Anthem were up next, followed by The Strumbellas down at the South Stage. As 8:00 approached, a large crowd gathered for Newfoundland band, Hey Rosetta!, and not long after, fans crossed the grounds to catch Sam Roberts Band (with only ten minutes to spare in-between sets!). The last band to play that night was Joyce Manor, who put on a great set, and even treated the crowd to two of their latest releases off of their upcoming album, Never Hungover Again, accompanied by a group of dedicated fans who didn’t hesitate to yell along with them.

TURF was coming to an end, but not before we caught July Talk, who put on quite an eventful show that Sunday afternoon. Jenny Lewis was up next, but the act that really caught my attention that day was Gogol Bordello. Despite having so many people onstage, they kept things entertaining with their constant movement and ability to bring pure energy and excitement to match their their equally interesting music- their performance was one not to be missed. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco (and previously of Uncle Tupelo) was an act that I heard much anticipation for throughout the day; and their set definitely did not disappoint- they even featured Tweedy’s eighteen year old son on drums. Tweedy played much more than his solo work; he even included some of Wilco’s music as well, such as “Hummingbird”.

Finally, and arguably the largest act of that day (possibly even of the weekend), Neutral Milk Hotel, took the East Stage at 8:30. While playing fan favourites from their renowned album In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, they politely asked all fans to put away all cameras and cellphones during their performance. While many complied, those who did not were reprimanded by fans around them, and it certainly didn’t stop the band from playing a 90-minute set. Hearing fans collectively belt out the lyrics to Neutral Milk Hotel’s “King of Carrot Flowers” (Pts. 2 & 3) was one of the highlights of that weekend. Hollerado, who took the smaller South Stage 30 minutes after Neutral Milk Hotel started playing, expressed their surprise and gratitude at those who came to their set rather than Neutral Milk Hotel’s. The band played an energetic set to dancing fans. As their set came to a close, they asked a fan to get on stage and play Menno Versteeg‘s guitar during “Do The Doot Da Doot Doo” to allow Versteeg to get closer to the crowd. Fans were chanting at the band for an encore, but sadly they weren’t allowed to perform more songs. Luckily, to the crowd’s amusement, they were able to come back and sing Canada’s national anthem together to end the perfect night.

Because it featured so many great artists, Toronto Urban Roots Festival provided an exciting weekend to many Toronto music fans; the festival was carefully planned and executed, with wonderful music, food and even weather. TURF is one of the best music festivals in Toronto, and we’re already looking forward to the announcement of  next year’s line-up, coming this fall!

PHOTO GALLERY

DAY 1
The Weeks by Marisa Martel

Born Ruffians by Winnie Surya

Local Natives by Winnie Surya

Deertick by Marisa Martel

Beirut by Marisa Martel

DAY 2 by Marisa Martel
Andrew Jackson Jihad

Drive-By Truckers

Violent Femmes

The Gaslight Anthem

The Strumbellas

Hey Rosetta!

Sam Roberts Band

Joyce Manor

DAY 3
July Talk by Marisa Martel

Jenny Lewis by Marisa Martel

Gogol Bordello by Marisa Martel

Jeff Tweedy by Winnie Surya

Hollerado by Winnie Surya

Check out our review and photos from @turfto - p://wp.me/p2L82O-1Ff Review by Marisa Martel and Winnie Surya. Edited by Savana Ogburn. The first weekend of July held some exciting and busy days for Toronto as they hosted the second annual…
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  • #andrew jackson jihad #beirut #born ruffians #drive-by truckers #festival #gogol bordello #hey rosetta! #hollerado #jeff tweedy #Jenny Lewis #joyce manor #july talk #local natives #neutral milk hotel #sam roberts band #the gaslight anthem #the strumbellas #the weeks #toronto #toronto urban roots festival #turf #violent femmes #wilco
  • 3 days ago

INTERVIEW: Born Ruffians @ CMW

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By Winnie Surya. The four-piece, Toronto-based, indie rock band, Born Ruffians, was nominated for “Group of the Year” and “Must-Follow Artist of the Year” at the IndiesXM Awards during Canadian Music Week 2014. Vocalist Luke Lalonde and bassist Mitch DeRosier chatted with us about their expanded deluxe edition of Birthmarks, recording a new album, twitter, karaoke and much more.

I was wondering…

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  • #birthmarks #born ruffians #canadian music week #cmw #indiesxm award #luke lalonde #mitch derosier #toronto
  • 1 week ago
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Who: Nightmare and the Cat, Smallpools, and Neon Trees
Where: House of Blues, Boston, MA
When: July 8th, 2014
By Kaleb Hart

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Smallpools

Neon Trees

PHOTOS: Neon Trees - Boston, MA Who: Nightmare and the Cat, Smallpools, and Neon Trees Where: House of Blues, Boston, MA…
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  • #Boston #house of blues #neon trees #nightmare and the cat #smallpools
  • 1 week ago
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_MG_4882Who: Daughtry and Goo Goo Dolls
When: July 3rd, 2014
Where: Molson Amphitheater, Toronto, ON
By Winnie Surya

PHOTOS: Daughtry & Goo Goo Dolls - Toronto, ON Who: Daughtry and Goo Goo Dolls When: July 3rd, 2014 Where: Molson Amphitheater, Toronto, ON By Winnie Surya
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  • #daughtry #goo goo dolls #molson amphitheater #toronto
  • 1 week ago

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When: June 29
Where: St. Catherines, ON
By Daniel Hadfield

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Lights

Marianas Trench

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Arkells

FESTIVAL GALLERY: Scene Fest - Day 2 When: June 29 Where: St. Catherines, ON By Daniel Hadfield Crystalyne Lights Marianas Trench SHAD Arkells
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  • #Arkells #crystalyne #lights #mariana trench #scene fest #SHAD
  • 2 weeks ago

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When: June 28
Where: St. Catherines, ON
By Daniel Hadfield

Abandon All Ships

Boy & Bear

Cardinals

Current Swell

Matthew Good

Monster Truck

Partycat

The Glorious Sons

The Kerouacs

The Sheepdogs

FESTIVAL GALLERY: Scene Fest - Day 1 When: June 28 Where: St. Catherines, ON By Daniel Hadfield Abandon All Ships Boy & Bear…
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  • #abandon all ships #boy & bear #cardinals #current swell #matthew good #monster truck #partycat #scene fest #st catherines #the glorious sons #the kerouacs #the sheepdogs
  • 2 weeks ago
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Digital Day 1

By Erin Holdbeck 

Over the Canada Day long weekend, Toronto played host to four stages and nearly 80,000 ravers in what has turned into the premier electronic music festival in Canada.  Digital Dreams Music Festival, while only its third year, has managed to once again provide a line-up more diverse and coveted than any other in the nation.  Whether you prefer big room house, heavy techno, dubstep, or trance the line-up never failed to deliver.

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Saturday kicked off with the likes of Carnage, Keys N Krates, and Arnej on the various stages.  For techno fans, however, Echo Beach was the place to be.  Nicole Moudaber defended her title as “The Queen of Techno” and laid down some of the heaviest techno and easily one of the best sets of the weekend.  She then passed off the decks to yet another legend, Danny Tenaglia, who kept people dancing until the headliners took over.

To say deciding between headliners on Saturday was difficult would be an understatement.  With the four stages hosting the likes of the Justice, Deep Dish, Flux Pavilion, and Simon Patterson at the same time, not having a teleporter was probably the biggest downside of the night. I sprinted (literally) to the Dreams stage to catch the opening of Justice, which was just as glorious as I had always imagined as a massive white cross illuminated the stage.  The French duo did not disappoint mixing in their own tracks including favourites PYT and Stress with remixes of Michael Jackson classics.  There aren’t many DJs who can mix in the disco classic “Rasputin” and still have the entire crowd losing their minds but this is why these guys are legends.

I departed from main stage with just enough time to catch the end of what had been the first Deep Dish set in 5 years.  The duo, made up of Dubfire and Sharam, were one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, and from the looks of the crowd they did not disappoint.  While throwing down a more minimal set compared to the previous Echo Beach artists, Deep Dish managed to mesmerize the crowd and left everyone craving more on Sunday.

Due to what seemed like a two-fold increase in attendance on Sunday I unfortunately only managed to catch the end of Destructo’s set.  The producer/DJ/HARD Fest manager/Holy Ship captain extraordinaire threw down the groove and had me dancing from the second I got to Echo Beach.

Sunday saw the waterfront stage transform into “No.19 Social Experiment” hosting the likes of the legendary Green Velvet.  The unique set, enhanced by his distorted vocals and stand-out appearance, was made all the more memorable by a flash rainstorm.  Big ups to Green Velvet for laughing and continuing his entire set under plastic-covered decks despite getting completely drenched with the rest of us.

As I approached the Dreams stage to catch Eric Prydz I could already hear his new progressive track “Liberate” in the distance.  I expected a typical main stage set but I should have known better than to expect mediocrity from one of the best producers in the world.  Prydz might have been trolling the main stage ravers awaiting Tiesto as he took form of his techno-heavy alter ego, Cirez D.  As the stage was illuminated with some of the best production of the weekend the speakers throbbed with a mix of unreleased Pryda and Cirez D tracks teaching the big room fans a much needed lesson in techno.

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I spent the last hour racing between headliners.  Art Department, the Canadian house legends headlined No.19 Social Experiment throwing down a groovy mix of tech house.  Andy C had the entire House of Boom shuffling to his devastating D’n’B set while Luciano shut down Echo Beach with the heaviest techno mix of the weekend.  And, oh yeah, Tiesto was there too.

Aside from such a mind-blowing line-up of talent, Digital Dreams was managed flawlessly.  Due to the abundance of water-stations, food trucks, and washrooms there were never long lines, which meant you never had to miss your favourite acts.  The addition of the fourth stage this year also helped to thin out the crowds at each show making getting up close easier and more stress-free than any event I have ever attended.  Major kudos to everyone who made Digital Dreams 2014 possible and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year.

Top 3 highlights: Eric Prydz, Destructo, Green Velvet

Check out more photos of the weekend below

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Digital Dreams - Toronto (June 28 & 29) By Erin Holdbeck  Over the Canada Day long weekend, Toronto played host to four stages and nearly 80,000 ravers in what has turned into the premier electronic music festival in Canada. 
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  • #Andy C #Arnej #Art Department #Carnage #Danny Tenaglia #Deep Dish #Destructo #digital dreams #digital dreams music festival #echo beach #edm #electro #electronic nation #Eric Prydz #Green Velvet #Justice #Keys N Krates #Luciano #Nicole Moudaber #toronto
  • 3 weeks ago

FESTIVAL: Toronto Urban Roots Festival 2014

FESTIVAL: Toronto Urban Roots Festival 2014

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If you’re in Toronto this weekend, be sure to catch TURF (Toronto Urban Roots Festival), which runs from July 4th to July 6th. The festival features well-known acts such as Neutral Milk Hotel, The Gaslight Anthem, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco); up and coming bands such as Andrew Jackson Jihad, and many local acts like Hollerado, Born Ruffians, and July Talkas well. Taking place at the Garrison Commons…

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  • #festival #toronto #toronto urban roots festival #turf
  • 3 weeks ago
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An Evening With Tyler Ward: A Show for All Ages, Literally.

An Evening With Tyler Ward: A Show for All Ages, Literally.

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By Karmin Yu. You’re ALL invited to Tyler Ward’s tour. When I say all, I mean it: from young prepubescent girls to middle aged fathers – this show can be enjoyed by anyone. Last Thursday night in Montreal, Tyler Ward made sure that everybody (even those who weren’t familiar with his original works) felt included in his musical world.

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The first act to walk on stage was a singer-songwriter of the…

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  • #brynn elliott #mikey wax #montreal #tyler ward
  • 3 weeks ago

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An NXNE highlight…

Who: Wild Leaves (Brooklyn, NY)
Where: The Cameron House – Toronto, ON
When: June 21st, 2014
Photos by Tiffany Lam

Look for our interview with Wild Leaves in our July issue!

For more of our instant festival coverage, follow us on Instagram & Twitter.

PHOTOS: Wild Leaves @ NXNE - Toronto 21/06/14 #wildleaves #nxne2014 @wearewildleaves An NXNE highlight… Who: Wild Leaves (Brooklyn, NY) Where: The Cameron House - Toronto, ON When: June 21st, 2014…