LIVE: V-Fest's Second Day Nearly Erases Day One Disaster Monday September 11, 2006 @ 05:30 PM
By: ChartAttack.com Staff September 9-10, 2006 Olympic and Centre Islands Toronto, ON by Noah Love
Toronto has been yearning for a big festival for a long time. While they seem to be popping up around the U.S. with staggering frequency, the best we've gotten has been Broken Social Scene's now annual June event. That all changed when "rebel billionaire" Richard Branson's Virgin Festival announced it would do two North American shows, one in Baltimore and one on Toronto's islands. The Toronto edition would feature more than 40 acts and be headlined by The Flaming Lips and Massive Attack on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Of course, things didn't go exactly as planned, as Massive Attack pulled out at the last minute, leaving festival organizers to scramble for a new headliner. They found it in their backyard: Broken Social Scene. The hiccup wouldn't be the last for the suddenly beleaguered event. Saturday
By the time I got to the islands on Saturday, the Virgin Mobile stage (or main stage as I'll refer to it from here on) was already 15 minutes behind. Mean Red Spiders
are one of those bands who simply don't work for an outdoor festival. Actually, I think they could work if they chose to avoid their slowest shoegazer material, but that wasn't the case on this cloudy afternoon. I'm sure fest organizers had MRS' brilliant Stars & Sons record on their minds when they booked them to play, but those songs were almost entirely avoided. Not the best performance from a band who are definitely capable of a lot more.
After taking a break to do an interview, it was back to the main stage for Phoenix
. The French band were in excellent form, playing tracks from both of their acclaimed releases, though they hit the stage a good 35 minutes later than expected. Tensions were beginning to creep in, as the island has a strict noise policy where music must typically end by 11 p.m. Delays like this meant someone was likely going to have to be cut from the lineup. It was even more odd when that didn't happen.
At the same time, Buck 65
was doing a minimalist set on the Future Shop Stage (henceforth to be known as the second stage). Buck announced during the set that he has a new album on the way, and played one stellar track from it, "Spread 'Em." He also broke out a countrified version of "Wicked And Weird" as his set closer and received a nice ovation for his excellent efforts.
Knowing that everything was behind on the main stage, I raced back to catch most of the Hidden Cameras
set. The band were in far better form than they were at Harbourfront a few weeks ago, and they made far better set choices. They were also lucky to play during the peak of the day. The weather would soon hit a cold snap and literally suck the life out of the audience.
I heard bits and pieces of Starsailor
, a band whose remote fame I don't understand at all. They rose to popularity during an awful phase in British music (one I don't think they've quite yet escaped) when every band sounded like a ****ty version of The Verve. Simply awful stuff. Only a small crowd attended, meaning these borons might not have much left in the tank.
Thankfully, all of this was erased by Eagles Of Death Metal
, who heated up the chilly, damp night with songs from Peace, Love, Death Metal and Death By Sexy. Paramount was the former's "English Girl," which positively stung the speakers. But that was the end of the good times on V-Fest's first day. The events that followed were truly horrendous.
I had to ditch the Eagles set halfway through in order to catch what I thought would be the start of Gnarls Barkley
's set. By all accounts, the main stage had nearly managed to get back on time. But when I got to the other island, this was clearly not the case. Gnarls' set-up dragged on and on, and now there were serious concerns about how this would affect The Flaming Lips
, to say nothing of the fact that Kid Koala
was inexplicably not allowed to play the first of his two sets during Gnarls' brutally oversized changeover.
When they did hit the stage 45 minutes late, close to the time they were scheduled to finish, they were somehow allowed to perform their entire set. I'm no festival organizer, but I'm not an idiot either — protect your ****ing headliners, people. Considering how little star power this day had in the first place, the maximum effort should have been made to ensure the Lips would get their full set length. I get mad typing about it even now.
I don't want to take too much away from Gnarls Barkley's performance. They did most of St. Elsewhere with more than decent energy, and the crowd was somewhat into it, though mostly deflated by the long delay. "Crazy" didn't have the kind of impact a single of the year should have, but "Who Cares" and a slowed down "Transformer" more than aptly showcased Cee-Lo's marvelous vocals and kept things light.
The Flaming Lips did a good thing by allowing poor Kid Koala, whose boat nearly sank on its way to the island early in the day, to do a short set during the changeover. Closing with his immaculate three-turntable take on "Moon River" he got the crowd back into the proceedings — just before the impending disaster of the festival.
At 10:35 p.m., Wayne Coyne got into his famous vinyl bubble and walked over the crowd before hitting the stage to join the rest of the Lips on their always and forever opener, "Race For The Prize." Coyne's voice was fairly cut up, a stark contrast from his passionate Lollapalooza performance, but nobody seemed to mind.
But after the two parts of "Yoshimi" and a couple of tracks from At War With The Mystics, a stagehand dressed as Captain America whispered something in Coyne's ear and the colour drained from his face.
"Captain America just told me we have to pull the plug," Coyne muttered at about 11:10 p.m. He expressed his disappointment, but said the band had wanted everyone on the main stage to perform, which explained why nobody had been dropped from the lineup or moved to the other stage. But the crowd could hardly believe it. Nobody moved for five minutes. Beyond a couple firings of the confetti cannons, though, that really was the end. Organizers were going to have to pull an elephant out of their hats to make up for this disaster on Sunday.