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At some point in time, music festivals transformed from being meeting places for like-minded music lovers to by-products of our binge-happy culture that wants all the things at the same place at the same time. Pitchfork Music Festival began as a gathering for fans of the website and, above all, fans of the bands that the website celebrates, but it has increasingly become a festival where,  instead of artists and fans clashing in awkward and amusing ways, as one would expect at a festival where Yo La Tengo opens for R. Kelly, people simply listen to the music.

It’s a pessimistic observation to make, but it’s the type of thought you have when your eyes wander away from a Yo La Tengo guitar solo and onto the crowd: frowning R. Kelly fans in lawn chairs (not festival-approved, mind you) at the front, young teens in the middle frantically checking the Pitchfork Music Festival app in between glances at Ira Kaplan swinging his guitar like Kurt Cobain, and, in the back, the older clusters of friends that enter and leave the festival as groups, rarely talking to anyone they didn’t come with.

But first, a little further east at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square, was the headline event of NXNE 2013: The National. Finding a spot to park my bike amongst the thousands who’d flocked downtown for the free concert was quite the task, but not nearly as difficult as finding a spot with decent sightlines to catch the band of brothers and the increasingly aged-looking Matt Berninger. Sure, the band’s mix of classics and cuts from their latest, Trouble Will Find Me, was entertaining enough. Yet age has certainly affected this band’s aesthetic, as a hardened realism ends up playing out in tracks like “Graceless”, which sound much more driving than anything they’ve ever done.

by Joshua Kloke

14 Jun 2013


Diana lead singer Carmen Elle. Photos: Adam Kesek

4479, a new initiative is “…being led by a growing coalition of music industry leaders, in conjunction with supporters who work in tourism, municipal government and business,” according to Amy Terrill, Vice President Public Affairs at Music Canada. 4479 is part of an ongoing study comparing Toronto to other great music cities, so with that in mind, there was an effort to check out a few local artists as part of Thursday’s festivities.

Those who failed to witness the event were transfixed by a comparable burst of energy onstage. Gogol Bordello, Thursday night’s headline act, performed with a level of intensity that was exhausting to watch and difficult to imagine sustaining. That the band is booked through September says a lot about its endurance.

There were other reasons to watch the sky during the weekend, as rain and storms threatened and occasionally interrupted the proceedings. But throughout the four days, the bands, fans, organizers and staff once again contributed to an exceptional festival experience. This year’s lineup was particularly well curated.

With the wounds from epic collapse of the city’s beloved Maple Leafs hockey club finally healed, the city became embroil in the now infamous “Crackgate” scandal. A video of already comical Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack has been rumoured to exist, making Toronto the butt of many a joke.

//Blogs

Is Black Widow Still a Hero? Dissecting the Misogynistic Outrage Against the Avengers

// Short Ends and Leader

"Black Widow may very well be the pinnacle of the modern action heroine, so why is there so much backlash about her role in the new Avengers film?

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