Wavelength 1710 March 2017 / by Jennifer Hyc (author)
This winter has been a rough one, to say the least. What most of us could use at this point is some sunshine, some smiling faces, and a cold beer in hand. Saturday’s matinee show at the Monarch Tavern gave us a sweet, sweet taste of the summer months just up ahead. While last year’s instalment of the winter Wavelength Music Festival fell on perhaps the coldest weekend of the year, this year’s 17th anniversary show had us basking in unseasonably beautiful weather. Although the venue change had some of us missing the natural light and space of Mirvish House (R.I.P. Mirvish Village), the setting was just right for the bands that followed that afternoon.
Girls Rock Camp alumni Denim Roses kicked off the afternoon with an impressive set that has us looking towards the future of Toronto’s underground rock scene. Next up were Strands, the experimental mixed media project of Weaves’ Jasmyn Burke and projectionist-extraordinaire Rosalie Maheaux. Burke brought her refined, personal brand of off-kilter vocals with spacey loops and synths, while bathed in abstract and colourful cut-outs splayed out on the curtain behind her. The visuals and sounds that filled the space were captivating, and for the set overall, immediately gratifying.
There to spin Wavelength Festival a complete one-hundred and eighty degrees were noise punkers WLMRT. The band does not like patios (as evidenced from their similarly titled song), and that seemed to work in their favour since everyone packed tightly inside the venue to witness the band’s blistering 15 minute set in lieu of some beers and pizza in the sun. The band has a good sense of humour, which unfortunately was not the easiest to pick up on if you were unfamiliar with them prior to the show, likely given the nature of their sound. Closing the afternoon’s events were Peeling, who recently released their EP Rats in Paradise via Buzz Records. Annabelle Lee’s voice is raspy and sinister, pairing off well with the distorted yet accessible guitar hooks. The fuzzed out melodies have a strong hold on melody, which beckon comparisons to related Toronto bands such as Dilly Dally.
Wavelength head-honcho Jonny Dovercourt took the time between sets to introduce bands throughout the festival. For Saturday evening’s line-up at The Garrison, Dovercourt pointed out the fact that the bands playing that night spanned multiple provinces. The first province up was Quebec, with their generous offering of Helena Deland. Deland’s soothing and airy melodies added another burst of colour into the space, matching Wavelength’s signature collage of stage projections. Next up were Guelph shoegazers Whoop-Szo. Experimental in nature without being overtly alienating, the band is capable of switching between freakish and cathartic to soulful and reflective with enough ease to keep their audience fixated.
Fet.Nat conquered (and confused) the Saturday night crowd with a set that was every bit as odd as they were entertaining. The “POULE MANGE POULE” prop sign MAY have been more warmly received than the “Support Our Cops” sign, just a guess. Most of the band’s offbeat humour hit the nail on the head, while some of it sadly got lost in translation. If anything, salvation was found in the form of a tiny saxophone. Last but not least, and certainly not stopped by some technical glitch at 12:20 AM, was Julie & the Wrong Guys. Certainly not ones to be forgotten since their last performance at the Bloor Ossington Folk Festival this past September, the band debuted a number of new songs. In short, The Garrison and all of its occupants were gloriously annihilated, and a rock n’ roll happily-ever-after ensued.
Day three of Wavelength Music Festival took a turn away from rock and into the realm of electronic music in various forms. In the afternoon the Gladstone Hotel hosted the festival’s Drone Brunch, featuring the ambient likes of North Atlantic Drift and Kat Estacio. The evening’s events at the Garrison continued along a similar, more upbeat vein as it was co-presented by Silent Shout, the Canadian electronic pop blog.
Hush Pup kicked off the night with a sweet and sublime set that had heads bobbing and festival attendees warmed up. FIN turned up the heat several notches thanks to her frank, no-BS political themes and bouncy synths. Rebecca Fin Simonetti has no trouble navigating the stage herself, and she was wholly entertaining to witness alongside her minimalist yet poignant set up and sound.
Emay is a fresh face on the Toronto hip hop scene, with a debut album set to be released in late February. A humble and personable performer; but at the same time hard-hitting and fearless. I suspect that he is due for a larger spotlight.
Next up was Han Han, the Filipino-Canadian rapper, accompanied by the dance troupe Hataw. Han Han broke down language barriers by performing in her native tongue (Tagalog and Cebuano), in an effort to challenge and explore colonialist mentality in the music scene and abroad.
Closing off the night and festival, finally, were fellow Filipino-Canadian artists Phèdre. Featuring a plethora of musical guests (local rappers Arowbe, Casey Garcia, Lil Gae, and Han Han), April Aliermo and Daniel Lee closed off the festivities with a bang and a lot of frenetic electro-psychedelia.
The party continued until the early hours of the morning, with its impacts certainly felt straight through Family Day. As a whole, the weekend gave Toronto that much-needed push to get through the winter slump and not only appreciate everything that the city’s underground music scene has to offer, but what there is to look forward to.