Not two weeks past the coldest month of the year and Summer festival announcement season is already upon us. It's time to take that bedside list of Hilarious Rage Stick Ideas into the workshop. Start looking for a hat that will best express your individuality. Practice the words, "Someone's in here."
And most crucially, it's time to begin the deliberation: which concert deserves my dollars? With lineups from WayHome, Sled Island, and FME offshoot Quartiers d'hiver (and a late-breaking announcement from Unsound Toronto), we round up some of the early bloomers below.
On its maiden voyage, the same summer that the GTA truly discovered the summer festival, there was a lot to love about WayHome (in fact, we ranked our reasons). The region could handily support a large scale camping festival, especially one attracting an eclectic mix of for-real stars like Neil Young, Kendrick Lamar, and Sam Smith (though locals may have felt — and likely still feel — that their backyard is not the right place, not even for uncle Neil).
After organizing a 2015 lineup that delivered the goods at every font-size, this year's announcement was hotly anticipated. Who knew there was a wormhole in the Dance Cave, just behind that bench where everybody stashed their coats, that emptied out in Oro-Medonte in 2016? LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, Arcade Fire. I'm sure there's a certain set who "just can't even." Just maybe not for fans of hip-hop headliners...
For everybody else, there's a pretty exciting festival featuring Vince Staples, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Braids, Allie X, White Lung, FKA Twigs, A Tribe Called Red, Dilly Dally and more. We're excited.
Calgary's Sled Island, now in its tenth year, has gained cultish appeal among North America's festival watchers — half-discovery festival/half-Canada's All Tomorrow's Parties. Guest curated by Peaches, the organizers have unveiled the first wave of performers, including Psychic TV, Deafheaven, The Sonics, Angel Olsen, Built to Spill, Tortoise, and — dun da-da-dun — a Guided By Voices reunion (a seasonal business, it seems, like a poolboy or a chairlift operator).
Don't let that snark bury the fact that I'm super excited about this festival. Find the full lineup here. Runs June 22-26.
Operating within Luminato Festival, the Toronto edition of Unsound was our favourite festival last year, bringing Tim Hecker, Stars Of The Lid, and Helena Hauff, to name just a few, to the Hearn Generating Station.
How do you top that? Well, drone darklords Sunn O)))), who were just revealed as a 2016 headliner, shaking at the walls of an abandoned power plant is certainly a terrific start.
Update Feb. 18: Luminato and Unsound have announced that Tim Hecker, collaborating once again with Berlin light artist Marcel Weber, a.k.a. MFO, will return to perform at the Hearn for Unsound Toronto 2016.
FME Presents Quartiers d'hiver
Less a summer festival and more a spring teaser, Quebec's Le Festival de musique émergente or FME is throwing its second Quartiers d'hiver, a mini-festival in Rouyn-Noranda, QC March 10-12 to "overcome the long cold season" and "rekindle musical passions." I think that means there will be beer. The three-day, multi-venue program includes performances by SUUNS, Plants And Animals, BEYRIES, Organ Mood, Loud Lary Ajust, and Sans Pression.