TURF Review: The Hives, Skinny Lister, Explosions In The Sky, Margo Price, September 16, Fort York

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment


Early on in their 4:00 slot on the first day of the Toronto Urban Roots Festival, Hives singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist thanked all the people without jobs for coming out early. “They say rock n’ roll doesn’t work in the daylight, but they ain’t never seen The Hives before,” he later commented. It’s true, The Hives put on a fantastic show that would probably work well in almost any scenario. The Swedes put on a ridiculously high energy set that was the highlight of the day and one of the highlights of the entire festival. Almqvist himself would gladly tell you so – there’s a lot of swagger in the bands performance, as seen in Almqvist’s constant exhortations of the crowd to scream (“When we’re not making noise, you make noise.”) and his tongue in cheek comments like “I am your favourite rock and roll asshole” and “We will now play a very popular song from our back catalogue.” He joked midway through their set that The Hives had taken the fort after only five or six songs and while it was a joke, there was definitely some truth to it.

While The Hives were the undisputed winners of the day, a few other acts also put on impressive performances. English folk punkers Skinny Lister put on a fun show highlighted by an appearance of the band’s “seventh member,” a giant jug full of what i believe was rum (I didn’t get a chance to partake) and by singer Lorna Thomas jumping off the stage to dance with the crowd for the duration of one song. Austinites Explosions In The Sky put on a typically epic performance, though like The Hives, it seemed to be a bit early in the day for them – they put on a good show, but could have benefited from a bit more of a lightshow to accompany their post-rock instrumentals. But hey, you can’t have it all.


Another act making a strong impression on the first day was Margo Price, who played one of the earliest sets of the day after playing a show the night before at Lee’s Palace. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter has been referred to by some as the next big thing in country music and her set on the West Stage showed that she’s definitely got the goods. She played a mix of songs off her debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter and covers of classic country tunes such as Mickey Newbury’s “Why You Been Gone So Long” and Doug Sahm’s “Give Back The Key To My Heart.” One of the highlights of her set was “Desperate and Depressed,” a song inspired by a particularly bad show in Florida. “We probably won’t be going back there too soon,” she added. Price and her band of talented players closed off their set with “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle),” a song which deserves a place at the bar alongside the great country drinking songs.

TURF Preview

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | 1 Comment


It’s September, that could only mean one thing in 2016 – TURF. The fourth installation of The Toronto Urban Roots Festival will take place this weekend and hopefully it will not rain or my life will be ruined for those few hours. As luck would have it, Riotfest packed their bags and went back to the states this year so TURF will not have any competition this weekend.

Upon first viewing of the TURF lineup, it’s hard not to notice that the lineup’s diversity is a bit … lacking. However, implying that the TURF lineup is mostly full of middle-aged white men would be ludicrously shallow and too easy even for this blog, which mostly takes the easiest way out possible.

Instead, we will take a look at the bands playing and show how they are a diverse bunch.

Here’s some acts we are looking at


Dropkick Murphys – Boston Irish Bros – Always a good time.

Explosions in the Sky – guitar loving bros – For those who actively hang out in guitar shops. New record is solid.

Jake Bugg – British Soul Bro – For those who love their sensitive singer songwriters with a cup of tea and some biscuits

The Hives – Swedish Rock bros – Long overdue in their return, The Hives are awesome live

Margo Price – Not a Bro – Country singer Margo Price has been on a steady rise, so much so she gets one of the first slots of a music festival on a Friday afternoon. Solid stuff if you can make it.

Simone Denny – Not a Bro (pt 2) – Toronto soul singer Simone Denny gets the great opportunity to be the opener for TURF, and those who make it there in time will be awarded with the most diverse artist on the bill. As a bonus, most people can go see Simone during their lunch hour and then go back to work.

James Bay – Hat Bro – How is this guy headlining?


Ween – Real Bro Bros – Reminds me of being in college in the US in the 90s. Although I have never experienced this

Barenaked Ladies – Innocent Canadian Fun bros – This set will just be all sing-alongs. IF I had a milion dollars..I can’t buy a house (in Toronto)

LUSH – NOT BROS – I am so excited to see Lush. If you don’t know them, you are missing out. Listen to this song:


Guided By Voices – DRUNK ASS Bros – They might play through 40 songs and drink a 40 during their set. It’ll be a blast

The Sheepdogs – Long haired bros – 3 out of 4 Sheepdog members have long hair.

Whitehorse – That Bro who brings his wife to bro’s night bro – Say what you want about Whitehorse, but the couple has been on fleek* recently

*Term that kids told me means cool or some shit.


Death Cab For Cutie – Emo Bro – You’ll be singing out loud to “The Sound of Settling” no matter how hard you try to be cool.

Jimmy Eat World – American College Bro – Oh gawd 20 year old me wants scream the chorus to “The Middle” out loud so bad. Bucket list concert sing-along. Everything, everything will be just fine.

Matthew Good – Apparitions Bro, Apparitions – No lie, I saw Matthew Good Band when I was 18 and they signed a free poster in Edmonton and that was an alright night.

The New Pornographers – Where’s Neko Case, Bro, Bro – Where’s Neko Case? Does it Matter? New Pornographers will always put on a good show and this time around will be no exception.

The Belle Game – Asians representing (not a Bro) – The Belle Game put out a beautiful record a few years ago and they are back at it.

As you can see, the lineup is actually quite diverse.

Who are we kidding, diversity aside, this is a helluva festival and I’ll see you there this weekend.

Turf (ish) Concert Review: Lucius, July 4th, Horseshoe Tavern

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 11.41.06 PM

The first time I saw Lucius, they were playing a breakfast in the middle of SXSW at the W Hotel. It was like 9 am in the morning and frankly, everyone was there for the free breakfast tacos. Amongst the glory that is eggs, bacon, chorizo and salsa, we saw this band that was all dressed up in uniforms. It was cute, their harmonies sounded good to a hung-over Ricky and I admired their perseverance and dedication to playing a god damn breakast show.

The time since that morning has been great for the band. Not only did they release a fantastic debut album, but lead vocalist Jessica Wolfe and Holly Laessig were also featured on San Fermin’s indie hit track Sonsick. Playing a TURF after party show at the Horseshoe, I was eager to see how the band was in a non breakfast scenario.

Even though it was their second show of the day (they had an early gig at the TURF festival), Lucius’s show was great. Playing material off their debut album, the group’s live set totally blew the recorded material out of the water. Performed live, the harmonies and vocals by Wolfe and Laessig sounded fantastic. The two singers just scream talent and can go from singing country-like songs to r&b style tunes in a matter of minutes. The band loves percussion and at any given point, there were at least one or two members of the group banging on something, whether it be drums, snares or cowbells. Those two elements gave the show a surging pulse and when you blend that with hook filled choruses that is sprinkled throughout their music, the outcome is an outrageously pleasurable experience.

It should be noted that the band tried ambitiously to sing without microphones for the last part of their set. It was a valiant attempt, but the chatty crowd really diminished the experience. (They also tried this at the breakfast). Still it was an ambitious attempt by the group, and given all the different genres of music their record touched, ambition is not something Lucius is unfamiliar with. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Turf Day 4 Review: Belle & Sebastian, Xavier Rudd, Cat Empire, Fort York, July 7

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | 2 Comments


Continued from Part 1

After Whitehorse finished the set, it was time for Cat Empire. Hailing from Australia, I had initially thought their band name was some sort of gimmick to get attention from the internet, since as we all know, everyone on the internet loves cats. However, upon further research, it appears that Cat Empire have been around since 1999, so maybe they were ahead of their time. Either way, my lunch break was at the same time as Cat Empire and when mother nature brought the pain, me and a few friends were unfortunately stuck underneath an ATM tent.


You know, some people just don’t give a crap about being rained on. I feel like I am not one of those people. I wonder why these people don’t mind being drenched and having to wear wet clothes for the remaining six hours of the festival. Then I wonder why I care so much about not being drenched. Are my levels of comfort too high? Do I need to not give a damn as much? Was I too sheltered as a child? These things you think about as you watch fellow concert goers slip and slide through the mud pits at the festival as you are packed like a sardine underneath an ATM tent.

Once the rain let up, I decided to check out Cat Empire for a few minutes. While their ska-tinged rock might not have been my thing, people were going absolutely nuts for them. Their energy was admirable and you could make an argument that the crowd for Cat Empire had the most fun at Turf. Next up was fellow Aussie Xavier Rudd. The man with the didgeridoo.


Just look at the guy. He’s so damn happy! Dreadlocks were all around. I thought I made a funny tweet:

But nobody retweeted it, so I guess it wasn’t that funny. Maybe I am not as funny as I think I am.

Basically, Xavier Rudd is what he is. He’s got the chill laid back ska-reggae Earth rock down. He’s got his legion of fans who all have left banker jobs to start their own beads business and they all love the world. They are happy. We sneer at their happiness. Who wins? I don’t know.

Next up was Neko Case, who has a voice for the masses. Having never seen her outside of the New Pornographers, I can confirm what many already know – the woman is talented. An outdoor stadium with constant rain is probably not an ideal setting for Neko but her and the band powered through it like champs and seemed genuinely pleased at the people willing to stand in the rain for her show.

For me, the day and the festival was all about seeing Belle & Sebastian.

It’s amazing how much Belle & Sebastian have grown as live performers over the years. Having toured consistently for the past decade or so, it would seem that all the mystery surrounding this band has all but disappeared. What hasn’t disappeared is the level of appreciation a B&S fan has for the band. I mean, when someone likes Belle & Sebastian, they really like Belle & Sebastian. By the time Neko Case had ended, a sizable crowd had already gathered at the east stage, ready to dance their little twee hearts out. It was only fitting the rain had stopped just when B&S came out on stage, with Stuart Murdoch proudly wearing his Fred Perry shirt (Andy Murray had won wimbledon earlier that day). Belle & Sebastian’s 80 minute set a fun filled and dance worthy time. Without a new record to promote, the band was able to dig deep into their discography and tracks like Loneliness Of A Middle Distance Runner and To Be Myself Completely were able to see the light of day. As expected, the show became a highly interactive affair, including

– Inviting a girl up on stage to sing the female part to Dirty Dream #2. As Frank had eluded to in his review, anything is better then that show in 2003 when the girl who went up on stage decided to sing her OWN SONG. Sadly, it became painfully obvious that the person on stage had never heard of this song before, and therefore butchered it. I wish I could submit that moment to the site You Had One Job

– I’ve seen the Lord Anthony/Mascara thing three times now (last Massey Hall show, Primavera and now Turf) and while I remain neutral towards the actual song, You can’t help but feel delighted that some girl had her life made that night

Photo Credit: @curlybecs

– A girl was brought up to play scrabble against the band in what was surely a charming moment for her, but without a projection showing the actual game, was kinda meh for the rest of the crowd. Still she managed to successfully dance on stage when the rest of the band was too busy playing a song, thereby avoiding what could have been an incredibly awkward moment.

– Once again, I had a chance to take the stage during the inevitable invite for Boy with the Arab Strap, but once again, I chickened out. Primarily because I was wearing what was essentially a black garbage bag for rain protection, but that’s a weak excuse. One day. Sadly, one of the people invited up was some drunken dude who to the best of my knowledge, was about three months pregnant. Don’t show your belly man!

Sadly, the band did not play my favorite (Sleep the Clock Around) but we did get a 1-2 punch of Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying and Judy and The Dream of Horses to finish off the set. Belle & Sebastian: great as usual. The set was a huge exclamation mark to end off off TURF. What an incredibly operated festival. Everything except the 9 dollar tall boys was phenomenal and I can’t wait to do it again next year.