TURF Day 4: Kurt Vile, Yo La Tengo, Whitehorse, the Food and Footwear (part 1)


The fourth and last day of the Toronto Urban Roots Festival was an epic one. It featured rain, sun, more rain, mud, pools of water and a host of bands that accumulated into the one big love in that was Belle and Sebastian. How amazing was this day? take a look at this:


It was so good that for a fleeting moment, I forgot where I was when instagramming and did my default good times hashtag: #sxsw. You can write all the reviews you want, but that was a subconscious mistake and the truest indication of how fun TURF day 4 was.

But as Chris Martin says, “let’s go back to the staaaaaaaart” (yes, I just quoted Coldplay, probably incorrectly)

One of my greatest decisions of the day was footwear. Potential rain, potential mud, potential regret. I quickly decided on flip flops over shoes because

a) easy to clean
b) lack of shoes will keep me cool if it gets hot
c) if it turns into mud pit, feet is always easier to clean then shoes
d) I had no shoes I was willing to sacrifice to the mud lords.
e) I basically hate wearing socks

As it turned out, it was a great decision. However, this whole process took me awhile, so I missed the opening Sadies set. I arrived on the grounds just in time for Kurt Vile, whose new album Wakin on a Pretty Daze has been both a critical and commercial success. I also found out he is older then me by a full half year. Who would have thought? I thought he was like 21. Maybe I should grow shoulder length hair and start a rock band. The whole band except for the dude on the synthesizer/bass seemed to have long flowing hair and that 70’s rocker look. Which begs the question, why did that other dude not follow the uniform. Is he the real rebel? Speaking of looks,


Is that drummer NOT Andrew WK? Have they ever been spotted at the same place together? Someone investigate this.

If you have never heard Kurt Vile before, the easiest way to explain their music is to ask you to look at their picture, project what you think they would sound like and then tell you that you are exactly correct. Semi lo-fi honest American rock music. One thing I liked about this set was that it got progressive louder and more aggressive as they got closer and closer to the end. Vile’s somewhat muttered vocals might not make for great singalongs but when they go at it with the guitar (and/or sax), it makes for a pretty good head boppin time.


Next up was Hoboken New Jersey legends Yo La Tengo.

Yo La Tengo has always been one of those bands which I think I should know, but I do not. The most amount of time I have spent with this band up before Sunday was the Parking Lot Movie, which featured James McNew. Aside from that, I can’t say I know much about Yo La Tengo except for that little inner feeling that I should know more about them. Kind of like how I feel about some of my relatives. Much like Kurt Vile, the band started off with some really mellow tunes. I think this may have been due to some equipment issues. Either way, the set started off mellow and then become progressively louder with Ira Kaplan getting more and more crazier on a guitar, much like how your uncle seems to be just content with having one can of beer, and the next thing you know, you are doing absinthe at a shady strip joint. It should be noted that Yo La Tengo’s set was the only non-rain set for the day. They also said they missed RA Dickey, which would have been a great crowd pleaser if he hadn’t got lit up the previous day.


Whitehorse are a husband and wife duo who were clearly a little bit country, based on Melissa McClellan’s country boots, but also, still a bit indie rock, based on Luke Doucet’s plaid shirt and fedora combo. I actually don’t know if Doucet’s plaid+fedora combo actually says indie rock, because he wore it with an exposed white tank top underneath, it actually screams “I’m a western tourist coming to a semi poor country, please rob me accordingly” for some reason. Anyways the duo were all full of harmonizing bluesy folksy rock that sounded pleasant, but wasn’t enough to hold me and friends from wandering the grounds in search of food.

Let’s take a look at the food I had during TURF while we are at it.

Big Fat Burrito – the Pulled Pork Burrito (Free)
I was lucky enough to win a free burrito courtesy of TURF and I chose the pulled pork burrito. I was expecting a large burrito, but instead I was handed probably a 5 inch burrito that was already pre-wrapped. This was somewhat disappointing as one of my favorite things to do when ordering burritos is to pick what I want. This way I can have a conversation with the minimum wage worker on the other side, feel like we’ve had a connection and thing, yes, we are humans after all, this isn’t a souless paper transaction. I also usually take that time to ask for more hot sauce. Since the burrito was pre-wrapped, I had no idea how long it had been sitting there and as a result, I felt like it tasted like it had been sitting there awhile and thus not fresh.

Poutine Machine – Medium size poutine
I wasn’t really full from my free burrito, and taking a look at prices for food as well as contemplating the long stretch of time I was there for, I decided the best option was to carb it up. The Poutine Machine offered only a medium and large size poutine. I chose the medium since I have learned that large size poutine is never a good idea. I enjoyed this poutine, there was real cheese curds and the fries were fresh and not overly salted. The gravy was tasty as well. If I was a vegan I would complain that there was no veggie gravy option. I’d also complain that I couldn’t eat meat.

Australian Pies – Canadian Pie
I didn’t really know Aussies liked meat pies until I went to this stand by Kanga. This was probably my favorite meal here. The meat and the gravy inside the pie tasted fresh and the pastry was tasty as well. What would have been better if they had offered kangaroo or koala meat. I don’t know if those are legal here though.

Feng’s Dumplings – Udon and Dumplings.
Feng’s was my chosen carb fill of the night and it was tasty. It’s really hard to screw up udon but their version was good because it was large. The sauce was probably sugar and soy but still tasted nice. The dumplings were nice and crispy on the outside while warm on the inside, which is the right combo you want for a dumpling. I don’t know what’s so Taiwan about udon though. It should of been braised beef noodles, but I’m not complaining. The best value for the buck on the grounds.

Part 2 to come later – Xavier Rudd, Cat Empire and Belle & Sebastian!

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts

About Ricky

Britpop lovin Chinaman, consumer of all things irrelevant. Toronto Raptors fan.