Ignore the pun in the title. Time Festival returned this year to Fort York, and brought along with it a lineup that was eclectic, diverse and extraordinary. But don’t be fooled; just because this festival chose not to stick with one broad style of music, it doesn’t mean that it certainly didn’t perform and deliver. With thousands of fans gathered to the grounds located just near the heart of the city, and conveniently placed right below the Gardiner highway, fans enjoyed a green and luscious view of the city put against the backdrop of cars zooming by and towering condos against the clear blue sky. Sprinkle a little bit of great weather and higher temperatures, and we had a nice summer venue and event lined up right against us.
Walking in to Time Festival, we kept a clear mind. We were ready for whatever was on stage and we were ready to embrace every artist that took the spotlight for the day. Most artists that took the stage that day had previously been to Toronto, either indoors or outdoors, or in winter or summer. That being said, the audience had already given a taste of what they’d experience from their favourite artists and the surprises would be kept to a minimum. Or so we thought. Despite being frequent performers in this beautiful city in the north, every artist that walked up to the stage delivered a performance that was headline-worthy; regardless of crowd size or set time. But neither of the former two factors had anything to do with the essence of this festival; every artist had a packed crowd from the front-rows to the nosebleeds.
No matter what your iPod contained currently, Time Festival brought every kind of genre to every listener. We walked in during Ryan Hemsworth’s electronic set that was beautiful shaped with experimental sounds and even featured artists on top putting in their vocals. And just like a switch, the music switched from electronic to improvised free-flowing rap performance by Freddie Gibbs that was inspiring to the current fans, and educational to bystanders. Keeping his set loose and free, Gibbs switched back and forth between studio songs and improvised rap verses that built and twisted its way into the status quo. Fans were all around trying to get a piece of him and you could see the expectation of every fan being fulfilled to the fullest in the content expressions on their face.
What can Time bring next to the table? Sifting from Electronic Music to Rap, the next artist on stage introduced a new genre for the day to the crowd, improvised jazz. BADBADNOTGOOD, a Toronto local trio brought their A-game to the stage, paying homage and doing covers of artists of the likes of Flying Lotus, Thundercat and other maestros of music; scores that require heavy amount of talent and organization. BADBADNOTGOOD ensured that they always kept the energy levels high and got the crowd involved by asking them to keep rhythm by the process of clapping their hands, effectively being a crowd metronome.
And there’s no better band than BADBADNOTGOOD to segue the crowd into the musical journey of Ariel Pink. Ariel Pink, a controversial artist known for his extraordinary performing styles and music took the stage with his band, and delivered a performance that was left to be interpreted by the audience as they’d like. Some thoroughly enjoyed it, some didn’t move; but yet the crowds still lasted and stood place as they anticipated the next two performances that awaited the night.
As Ariel Pink wrapped up his performance, the crowd started to chant and cheer to speed up the process of getting Mac DeMarco and his band to start performing. As the sound check was done and Mac took the mic, the crowd euphorically cheered on and gave Mac a heartfelt welcome to Toronto. Mac DeMarco, a self proclaimed ‘Jizz/Jazz’ artist, played some of his hits that his fans knew and love, and even took a different approach and played a few cover songs, including but not limited to, The Beatles. The crowd gleefully sang their hearts out and Mac DeMarco, along with his bandmates, would often include words of ‘wisdom’ as we may, in between their tracks, along with light-hearted humour. A psychedelic performance that won’t be forgotten easily, Mac DeMarco left fans with a lasting impression, eager for more.
But the departure of Mac DeMarco didn’t bring about bouts of sadness, as fans rushed towards the stage like light to flies as they awaited the final headlining act, Die Antwoord. The often controversial duo from Cape Town, South Africa delivered an exceptional performance that was appreciated by fans and newcomers both alike. A very high energy performance accompanied by their DJ and various dancers, Die Antwoord often engaged the crowd and played all their charted hits, which was accompanied by the audience singing along. The crowd also caught Ninja crowd-surfing, where he ‘jokingly’ commented that fans were grabbing his penis as he did so. Like metalheads at a metal concert, Die Antwoord fans were packed with energy, jumping around and moving about like they had been giving new life and energy delivered through the 30-feet tall speakers, spewing out beats and melodies every second.
Alas, the night had to come to an end and the journey of musical discovery we went through had finally ceased. That being said, we definitely found the experience mind-opening and enjoyed the various genres, acts, and performances we were exposed to. If you missed Time Festival this year, we strongly recommend you catch the next one, if it returns next year to Toronto.