TURF Review – Barenaked Ladies, New Pornographers, Bathrooms, etc

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment


TURF 2016 was once again a weekend filled with good music, chilled vibes and frankly, good execution. It always feels good when people know what they are doing at a music festival and Collective Concerts definitely knows what they are doing. How do I know? Let’s count the ways

  • Plenty of food options
  • Stages with minimum sound interference
  • Plenty of outhouses
  • Relaxed security staff
  • Easy to get in and out

Still, there are some ways to improve:

  • Better beer selection
  • Cheaper beer selection
  • More then one water truck
  • Multiple exits (why wasn’t there an exit on Strachan?)

Still, very well organized festival.

I think there was some music. Let’s look at a few highlights

Barenaked Ladies
A super fun set filled with all the hits you would expect. The Barenaked Ladies are a cheesy, fun and incredibly self aware band, joking that they played their first show at the battle of 1812. Obviously one of the best singalongs of the festival was “If I Had a Million Dollars,” in which someone threw Kraft dinner on stage. “Brian Wilson and “The Old Apartment also brought back memories and I wasn’t missing Stephen Page at all. The set ended with a super odd medley of popular pop songs which was disappointing considering tracks like “Jane or “It’s All Been Done would have easily made a better substitute.

Matthew Good Band
The tracks “Apparitions and “Hello Time Bomb brought me back to my university days. Damn I’m old.

Jimmy Eat World
The kids went craaaaaazy over the band from Arizona. I was rather dismissive of emo music in my 20s so my enthusiasm for the band was muted. Still the group played a powerful set that led in “The Middle,” a glorious track that had everyone fist pumping and singing along. Curiously, the group had a rather strict photo policy that irked a lot of photographers. i don’t even know why they would do that as I doubt many people are looking for Jimmy Eat World 2016 concert photos.

New Pornographers
What’s a music festival without the New Pornographers? Despite the absence of some more famous members (which at this point, is the norm), the group played a steady set in the steady sun. Bands should study these guys, one of the few consistently good bands of the past fifteen years. They are like Mac & Cheese – comfortable and always good, no matter what the ingredients are.

There were three types of bathrooms available at TURF, let’s take a look!

Outhouses (for normal people) – Your standard outhouses, I like the ones with a Purell thing on the inside which theses ones have the one time I used it.

East Side VIP area – Impressively lit with real toilets, the VIP bathrooms this year were great, and these ones had a light on each stall so that I didn’t piss all over the toilet and the seats. They also had functional working sinks on the outside. Highly impressive.

West Side VIP Area The most impressive one of them all, the west side VIP bathroom was inside a trailer-ish building and came with air conditioning and it’s own PA system. I bet a third of people at TURF don’t have air-con at their own apartments but this toilet has it. So VIP.

Anyways, in conclusion, TURF was fun.

TURF Review: The Mekons, September 18, Fort York

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


“We’ve worked out there’s at least 17 people here so you’ve exceeded our expectations,” joked Mekons singer/guitarist Jon Langford as they took to the stage. While the majority of festival goers were taking in Death Cab For Cutie on the main stage, The Mekons played an impressive set, although Langford seemed equally impressed with TURF. “What a festival! You stay at the promoter’s house and he serves you drinks onstage. I’m glad the Americans didn’t invade you in 1812.” Yes, Jeff Cohen, one of the brains behind TURF, was just hanging out and handing drinks to the band throughout the set. Langford was enjoying himself enough that he joked that they should take Cohen on the road with them to continue offering up this “invaluable service” for the duration of their tour.

The band were later joined onstage by Dallas Good of The Sadies, who also played the festival on Saturday afternoon. Midway through, singer Sally Timms announced that Tim (actually it was Jon) had broken a string. “That’s a euphemism. We need a defibrillator. Is anybody a doctor? Not an internet doctor ..” She then asked if there were any Sadies out there who could come onstage and help them out. Dallas came through, taking to the stage and then joining the band on guitar for the duration. This was obviously a good idea – the Mekons are certainly no slouches themselves, but when you’ve got a member of one of the best live bands around onstage, you might as well keep him there.

TURF Review: Lush, September 17, Fort York

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

20160917 Lush
Photo by Frank Yang

As much as they like to tout that the festival brings new music in, this years version of TURF was pretty much a stroll down memory lane for everyone. Even newer acts like Okkervil River have been around for a better part of a decade.

I was pleasantly surprised when Lush, one of the few leftovers from a bygone era that had yet to reunite and cash in on nostalgia, announced their intentions to tour again earlier this year. I was even more pleased when they announced that they were playing TURF. I had already made plans to go to Detroit to see them.

With the Lush logo hanging precariously in the background, a wet and rainy stage welcomed the band. The crowd was a mix of a small group of ecstatic diehard fans and then a much larger group who really just happened to be there.

Maybe I’m biased (I probably am), but the group sounded great, Miki Berenyi’s voice sounded as good as ever. One just needed to hear the opening section of “Light From a Dead Star” (a set highlight) to realize that. When she sounds good, then the rest of Lush just works. Berenyi and Emma Anderson’s guitars weave and dance around the vocals creating a dense layer of sound and that one might lazily characterize as shoegaze.

Through it all, the group kept their charming British humor, commenting frequently about the wet conditions (they claim they brought it from England). A great moment happened when the stagehand went on to mop the stage mid song. That guy’s a hero.

Obviously the biggest receptions came with the groups two biggest hits – “Ladykillers” and “Sweetness and Light.” Reflecting back on “Ladykillers,” it’s amazing how great a pure pop song that is and one might wonder what heights that band might have reached if they had chosen to go in that direction. I was sad they didn’t do “Ciao,” but it’s not like Jarvis Cocker was going to show up. Still, we can all dream a little.

TURF Review: Guided By Voices, Ween, September 17, Fort York

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


At any given time during a multi-day festival with multiple stages, it’s practically inevitable that there will be conflicts. Even if an effort is made to schedule bands as unlike each other as possible, there will be conflicts. And while Guided By Voices and Ween don’t share that much in common musically, both bands came to prominence around the same time and both share a certain cultish devotion from their fans, and so there were some who were definitely disappointed when they were scheduled opposite one another on Saturday night.

Having never seen Guided By Voices before, my choice was clear, although I did still manage to catch the first half hour or so of Ween’s set before Robert Pollard and co. took to the stage and it had a a typical Ween feeling, with the band hopping between musical styles and genres from song to song. Perhaps as a nod to this being nominally a “roots” festival, they played some numbers off of 12 Golden Country Greats, including “Piss Up A Rope.”

As the time approached for Guided By Voices, I made my way towards the Rebellion stage, tucked away in a corner of the festival grounds. After opening with “The Quickers Arrive,” Pollard kept the momentum going, as you have to when you’re planning on plowing through as many songs as possible over the course of an hour and 20 minutes. And they did play a lot of songs, many of them not technically GBV numbers, but songs from Pollard’s seemingly innumerable side projects such as Ricked Wicky, Boston Spaceships, and ESP Ohio. The band played plenty of GBV classics though, including “I Am A Scientist,” “Game Of Pricks,” “Teenage FBI,” “Glad Girls,” and “I Am A Tree,” the latter of which featured Pollard assuming the crane kick stance a couple of times as well as him ceding the microphone to guitarist Doug Gillard as he took over lead vocals for a bit.

Guided By Voices played one of the standout sets of the festival and also were, as far as I know, the only band on the bill over the entire weekend to have a sandwich named for them at one of the food trucks – the “Uncle Bob.” Take that, James Bay!