Wondering where the best “Goodbye Summer” party of 2016 was? Well The Xtra Mile is happy to fill you in! #TURFTO also known as the Toronto Urban Roots Festival took place this year from September 16-18, 2016 at Fort York, Garrison Common Grounds in Toronto, ON.
This is their 4th year around and perhaps their most successful one yet. With 44 talented artists and bands in attendance, a variety of food vendors, record labels, clothing, handmade jewelry for sale and a bunch of music lovers all gathered together in one place… yes indeed TURF was the place to be, to officially say goodbye to Summer’16.
Day 1 for us consisted of indulging in all sorts of yummy festival food such as ice cream, veggie hot dogs, healthy quinoa salad, tacos and of course every Canadians favourite dish, poutine! There was so much to see and shop at TURF TO from artist merchandise, to cute handmade urban jewelry to picking up a newly released record from the Dine Alone Records stand.
Day 1 was also filled with great sounds from Jake Bugg, Modern Space, Drive-By Truckers and Drop Kick Murphy’s, but our top 2 favourite bands of day 1 would have to be Explosions in the Sky as well as James Bay. Explosions in the Sky are a powerhouse instrumental quartet from Austin, Texas who you couldn’t help but stop by and listen if walking past the East (main) Stage. The band started playing around midday and into sunset; setting the perfect ambience for TURF attendees. Although the band is almost fully instrumental that didn’t stop them from drawing a big crowd and being able to tell a story through their emotional melodies and captivating use of loop pedals, reverb, sound and light FX.
James Bay was the headliner of day 1 closing out the night under a full moon and yes, it was as magical as it sounds. This was my first time seeing this talented musician from England and he was everything I hoped he would be plus more. James Bay has a captivating way of handling such a large crowd with ease, almost as if he was an orchestra conductor. Although his set consisted of many upbeat songs, jumping around the stage, sing along interactions with crowd and fun guitar solos there was also an overall tranquil calmness to him. He had an absolute full crowd, yet you could hear a pin drop based how quiet and attentive they were until Bay lead them from piano into forte.
Day 2- The energy was high despite the downpour of rain in the beginning of the day. Catching a bunch of great acts while maneuvering through the mud, our top 2 picks for the second day were the Barenaked Ladies and Ween. Again to mention some of the other amazing musicians to take the stages on this day were Whitehorse, Okkervil River and The Sheepdogs. Once the sun came back out and most of the mud had dried it made it a bit easier to quickly move around in a timely manner between all 4 stages.
So first up of our top picks is Toronto’s very own Barenaked Ladies. These guys sure known how to have fun and keep the crowd switching from signing along to laughing out loud to dancing along and keep them guessing what else they have up their sleeve. Talented and old enough to do so well what all performers do and play all their hit songs perfectly and fulfilling the crowd with songs such as Brian Wilson, If I had a million dollars, Pinch me and so much more, but wise and light hearted enough to break all the rules in between. If you have yet to see these guys live I recommend it be a must do as soon as you can! You can’t help but have a smile on your face throughout their performance as it feels like watching your own friends just rocking out in a backyard and having a genuinely fun time. Their set had everything from covering Celine Dion and Drake songs, twerking, synchronized dancing, improvised rapping, guest conga players, to bringing out Darth Vader in full costume saying “I am your father,” exiting stage and absolutely no explanation afterwards and just jumping into the next song. Hilariously entertaining, I think they were the highlight of day 2 that everyone needed after the rainy blues.
Ween- closed out day 2 at Fort York with their colourful changing stage lights to coincidently match the CN tower colours right behind the stage. The crowd rocked out to old favourite hit songs from the 90s while enjoying a Moosehead Beer. A family fun environment despite the damp grass Ween drew out a diverse crowd of young adults, families and children for the end of the night. Everyone enjoyed this band whether they were long-time fans and knew all words or to new listeners who rocked out to the funky keyboard melodies, tambourines and old school guitar licks to keep your toes tapping and your ships shaking. A successful end to day 2.
Day 3 – With the sun shining bright and most of the mud gone all the festival attendees could enjoy the festival without having to worry about getting a shoe stuck or falling in the mud. The warm weather reminded us of early summer thus it really being the middle of September. Day 3, the final day of the festival, brought out a bunch of notable act such as Sun K, The Hold Steady, The New Pornographers, and Matthew Good, but our top two of the day were long time favourites; Jimmy Eat Word and Death Cab for Cutie.
Jimmy Eat World – About a half an hour before they were scheduled to hit the stage many festival goers waited patiently, as time grew closer you could tell that most people were getting anxious and as soon as Jimmy Eat World walked on the stage the crowd exploded with excitement. Their set consisted of hit song, after hit song some of which included “Bleed American”, “Pain”, “My Best Theory”, “Sweetness” and “The Middle”. With a diverse set list of both old and new songs allowed even the youngest fans to sing and dance along.
Having seen this band a couple times before I was curious to see if they could top their past performances and of course they did.
Death Cab for Cutie, the headliners of the third and final day of the festival closed of the summer festival season off with a bang. Having been on tour for a full year I can only imagine how tired and exhausted they would be, that however did not show through during this performance. Every song they played sounded just as good as it sounds recorded, if not even better and the energy of everyone on stage especially lead singer Benjamin Gibbard had everyone in the audience curious to see what song they would play next. Like Jimmy Eat World, Death Cab for Cuties’ set was included some of the best songs they have written such as, “Cath”, “Black Sun”, “I Will Posses Your Heart” and “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”.
Whether you were sitting in the grass cuddling with your significant other, swaying along to the catchy melodies or singing at the top of your lungs in the middle of the crowd I think we can all agree that was a pretty good way to say goodbye to the 2016 summer festival season.