The Virgin Music Festival – Day 2 Part 2

Photos by Alex Ramon

Alright so like I said before, there was just too much to cover to fit all of Day 2 in one article. I know a lot of people, me included, have the attention span of an A.D.D. adolescent child tripping out on acid. There was just too much talent to cover in one article and with the day over and the afternoon just beginning, there was much more in store for festival goers. Running back and forth between stages (and getting stuck in between at some points) was tough enough, especially getting on a tiny little bridge connecting the two islands (it was like we were cows being herded into the meat plant). But when all was said and done, the organization of the entire festival was amazing. What more could you ask for than a great line-up of gifted musicians and a beautiful scenic backdrop of downtown Toronto?

Matt Costa

Matt CostaSo what do you get when a pro-skater breaks his legs and picks up the guitar? Well you get Matt Costa of course, you silly goose. During his 18 month recovery (holy shit what the fuck did you do Matt?) he picked up the guitar and started playing and writing music. The loss of a pro skater meant a big gain for music, especially with the talent that Matt has. I think I can go by a first name basis with him, we’re that tight (alright we’re not that tight, but I saw him from a distance and we breathed the same air).

When I heard he was playing at Virgin Fest, he was definitely one of my must see picks and he sure did not disappoint. The crowd was slowly gathering in and Matt Costa’s music was perfect for the emerging sunshine. As I was watching him go through his set, I couldn’t help but be amazed at his guitar skills. For a guy who is self taught, he sure has no problem with the hand eye co-ordination. I know every time I try to sing (and bear with me folks…) and play guitar at the same time, I always end up messing either the singing (which is always the case) or the guitar playing (which is always the case). Matt, on the other hand, was pitch perfect with a great tone and a melodic vibe. And coming from Vancouver, I couldn’t help but notice a certain smell that was going on through the crowd, if you know what I mean (I mean weed, ghanja, the hubbly bubbly, lamb’s bread, the wacky terbacky…). I guess people just wanted to mellow out and relax on the last day of the festival, which for a lot of people would be the last day of summer. It was a great way to spend the afternoon and not worry about taking notes and writing, all the while taking notes and writing.

Silversun Pickups

Silversun Pickups These indie rockers from Los Angelas consist of vocalist/guitarist Brian Aubert, bassist Nikki Monniger, dummer Christopher Guanlao, and keyboardist Joe Lester. I first heard of them through a friend, Ryan Thoren, who sent me their hit song “Lazy Eye” and I was hooked right away. At first, I didn’t realize the vocalist was a man, no offence to Brian but he has a really distinct voice (and when I say distinct, I mean really high…). After Ryan sent me the song, I started hearing them consistently being played on various local radio stations. Good job Ryan on the find! I knew at once that I had to see them perform live, and I finally got that chance at Virgin Fest.

Being on the main stage of a festival is a huge accomplishment for any band, and you would expect nothing but the best, but to be honest, the sound quality wasn’t what I expected. During the first few songs of their set, there was some major feedback going on, but the boys and girl in Silversun Pickups persevered over this and continued to play on despite the sound quality. Christopher probably had the most energy out of the bunch, and even though he was tucked away in the back smacking those drums, he provided the necessary oomph to propel the band forward. And going back to Brian, his high voice was unique for sure but as soon as he started to belt and scream he started to shine above the everyday normal front man. The band as a whole was a lot heavier than I had expected, with distortion ranging throughout their songs. With this genre of music, I had expected some sort of mosh pit, but the crowd wasn’t really rowdy today. Don’t get me wrong, they were really receptive and clapped and hollered after every song, but I really expected some more pushing and shoving going on. I guess Toronto is a really peaceful city after all.

Stereophonics

Stereophonics Formed in Wales in 1992, Stereophonics was the first band to sign on to Richard Branson’s V2 Records label, so I guess it really isn’t a surprise that they played at Virgin Fest. They’re huge in the UK, but seldom heard on the radio here in Canada. The first time I saw these guys play was back in the day (I didn’t mean to rhyme there… it sorta just happened), when the opened up for Our Lady Peace. Things sure have changed for them, reaching #1 in the UK Charts with their last five studio albums, and playing huge festivals like Virgin.

Consisting of Kelly Jones on vocals & guitar, Richard Jones on bass guitar, Javier Weyler on drums, and Adam Zindani on guitar & vocals, this 4 piece rocked out and owned the stage in Toronto. The crowd filled up nicely and the weather had made a complete 180 just in time for their set. The sun was setting and what was left of the light was shining down on the band. They are a true rock and roll band as they were all decked out in leather jackets and sunglasses (well I guess they actually did need the sunglasses because of the sunshine…). Kelly had one of the most crisp and clear voices I’ve heard in a long time, and it was really refreshing to hear someone sing with passion and emotion. Not only was the music great, but they were the first band today that really had the motive and energy to interact with the crowd. At one point, Kelly was urging the fans on with fist pumps and clapping. The UK invasion was in full swing and the boys in Stereophonics lived up to the hype and sure didn’t disappoint. They have a new album coming out, so be sure to check that out when it does get released because there is no doubt that they’ll continue to conquer the world, one listener at a time.

The Pigeon Detectives

The Pigeon Detectives Well look who it is, another UK band. Well I guess that’s why they call it the UK invasion. So who are The Pigeon Detectives? Well this indie-rock band was named by NME as a “Band most likely to make the jump to the main stage” so I’m thinking they’re kind of a big deal. They’re gaining a steady following that includes a not so small band by the name of The Kaiser Chiefs. With the support of fans and other bands, The Pigeon Detectives, comprised of Matt Bowman on vocals, Oliver Main and Ryan Wilson on guitar, Dave Best on bass, and Jimmi Naylor on drums, were expected to blow the hypothetical roof off of Virgin Fest.

I didn’t realize it until afterwards, but they were the headliners of the second stage. It really didn’t help that their set coincided with Oasis, but to be frank, I much rather watch TPD instead. As soon as they walked on stage, the five piece didn’t stop moving and shaking. They had great energy and stage presence and were dressed up in their black leather jackets (a Ramones resemblance perhaps?). They had that “I don’t give a shit” attitude and it worked really well for them. Every member in the band is talented beyond belief, but Matt was no doubt the center of attention when it came to photographers. He would not stand still and when he did, it was probably only for a nanosecond. It was a nightmare to shoot, but with the various poses and action shots there was no doubt a “money shot” as Alex put it so nicely. There was a point when Matt took his water bottle, chugged the liquid, and spat it all up in a nice spray formation. I would say that was a very nice choreographed move, but of course his antics weren’t always perfect. For instance, he was swinging his mic and accidentally let it go, causing the mic to fly into the audience. Other than that little mistake, TPD was virtually untouchable. They had a great sense of where they were on stage, and the crowd interaction was phenomenal. There was everything you could ask for, including “sing-a-long” moments and “unison clapping” moments and this is a band that will take over the music scene by storm.

To recap, just re-read all the other articles. But in all seriousness, Virgin Fest was a complete success, from the “green” initiative that they set out to promote to the great line-up of amazing and talented musicians. They have truly set the bar for festivals and it will be interesting to see who they bring on board next year.