It’s that time of year again. Sure, I partially mean winter, because the depths of a truly Canadian season are upon us and many are finding themselves longing for the warm days of a past that seems a distant memory. But really, the coldest days of our year bring with them a time when social media becomes saturated weekly with the multitudinous announcements of summer music festivals to come. Eager fans might welcome the announcements as a chance to scour press releases for their favourite acts, but others see it all as an overly-commercialized fight in a crowded market.
It’s true that music festivals have exploded to gigantic proportions in the past while. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival for instance, saw 10,000 people attend its inaugural event in 1999, while 2012 saw the festival’s first weekend’s 240,000 tickets sell out in under three-hours’ time. It really does seem that every major city and every music genre today has its own festivals to celebrate and capitalize on its market of music lovers. Toronto alone is host to an innumerable number of festivals, from the multi-day, multi-venue North By Northeast to the bro-step pull of VELD to the big rock headliners of Edgefest. New on Toronto’s plate this year is Field Trip Festival, which is being spearheaded by the ambitious Arts & Crafts record label to celebrate its 10-years of existence and give its artists a venue to be showcased. Headlining Field Trip will be Broken Social Scene, for whom the gig is a one-off since the indie-rockers are reuniting especially for it.
The diversity of music festivals that presently exist is unprecedented, especially considering how unique the idea of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was in 1969. That infamous event proved to be a turning point in rock music history, as 500,000 concert goers descended on a piece of farmland in Bethel, New York to celebrate “three days of peace, love and music.” Subsequent large-scale events followed when people realized the untapped potential, monetarily and socially, of huge music gatherings. Pioneers of the movement that have expanded exponentially to prominent names today are Perry Farrell’s Lollapalooza that takes place in Chicago and Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival. Other names have emerged and garnered their own piece of the market share, such as Bonaroo, Outside Lands, Sasquatch and Austin City Limits. Most interestingly, a festival exists for very specific types of bands in the town of Fucking, Austria. Since 2000, the Festival of the Fuck Bands has welcomed several North American natives including the likes of Fucked Up, Holy Fuck and Starfucker. It takes place over three days and aims to give “fuck” bands a stage for their music and encourage discussions on free speech and looking beyond labels.
Whether you’re looking for a new experience in your home town or your eyes are glued to Osheaga’s twitter for the first mention of your favourite songwriter, here’s hoping that you can find the festival that’s right for you.