Virgin Festival Toronto Day 2 2009 Part 2Photos by Alex Ramon
I ended Part 1 on a lukewarm note (not the weather, but the music), and as the day moved on, so did the people. The wind may have picked up, and sure there were a few droplets of rain, but that didn’t stop people from making their way down to the Molson Amphitheatre to catch some great live music. I guess people like to show up fashionably late, and they may have missed some great opening acts such as Coeur De Pirate, Datarock, and Mew, but there were still some great acts to come.
The second half started with a bang, and when I say bang I mean MuteMath. Comprised of Paul Meany, Darren King, Greg Hill, and Roy Mitchell-Cardenas, MuteMath blew the audience away with their incredible musicality and stage presence. I saw them at Virgin Festival BC, and I was amazed as soon as they stepped out on stage. Darren was incredible on the drums and his energetic personality shined through his happy hands.
Paul Meany had a very powerful and commanding vocal performance, and the song writing was just superb. They had great choruses and melodies that tickled my ear drums and for me, MuteMath’s set solidified them as one of the best rock bands (ever?). Not only did they amaze the audience with their songs, but at the end of their set they treated the crowd with a special tribal percussion outro that included all the band members. As a result, the fans rewarded them with a standing ovation, something you don’t see at a festival (except if you’re the headliner).
All the way from Fullerton, California, Cold War Kids are a straight up rock band with no gimmicks what so ever. Comprised of Nathan Willett, Matt Maust, Jonnie Russell, and Matt Aveiro, this foursome brought the raw energy of a rock band up on that Virgin stage. With their hit single “Something is Not Write With Me,” the boys in CWK got fans to jump and sing and were definite crowd pleasers.
The band had interesting guitar riffs, as well as a unique vocal performance from Nathan, and to be honest it sounded a little weird at moments, but it went well with the rest of the music. It was really hard to follow up after MuteMath’s standing ovation, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it nonetheless especially during songs “Hang Me Up To Dry” and “Relief,” where Nathan went into a beautiful falsetto. Overall, Cold War Kids were no MuteMath, but they did put on an admirable performance.
This band is a little out of the norm for a festival like this, but it was a nice change in pace. Pharrell Williams, with band mates Chad Hugo and Shay Haley, lit up the stage with their energetic personalities. It was also really interesting to see two drummers up on that stage, as they constantly exchanged drum fills so not all of the attention was on the other. It kept the crowd guessing and anticipating what would happen next.
This trio, along with their band, had so much energy that it radiated onto the audience and it was no surprise that the music got all the pretty ladies moving their feet. With such a lively performance, the fans appreciated N.E.R.D’s hard work by putting their hands in the air and jumping around like they just don’t care up on. And in return, Pharrell brought some drunken fools from the dance floor up on stage during their infamous song “Rock Star.” Needless to say, the fans left with a smile on their faces.
All the way from the lovely UK, the Pet Shop Boys headlined Virgin Fest in support of their latest album titled “Yes.” Their musical career started out in the early 80’s and for a band to be still relevant in this day and age is something to marvel at. Their hard work and dedication, along with amazing stage set up, has led them to a long and lasting career that is still going strong.
To close out the Virgin festivities, PSB went all out and had some weird stage set up with white blocks and as soon as the music came on dancers and back up singers came streaming out wearing weird multi-coloured block costumes. Not only that, they also had a black screen in the background that displayed images that went along with the lyrics, sort of like a Windows Media Player (but a little more high-tech of course). No offence to PSB, but I think I was more amazed by the images than I was with the music. With choreographed dancers and some catchy dance tunes, the night dwindled to a close and everyone left summer satisfied.
The entire Virgin Fest was a success, including the cross country venture, and with 29000 fans in attendance at The Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto ended the summer with a bang. Now there is one question that still remains to be answered. Can these Virgins top it next year? We’ll just have to wait and see.