Eliot Sumner arriving on the TD Fort York Stage - right after the storm clouds moved past
Eliot Sumner arriving on the TD Fort York Stage at the Live Nation and Arts and Craft’s summer festival Field Trip. Image: Nicholas Castel
The main path connecting the two stages in one of Toronto's few remaining historic sites. Image via Nicholas Castel
The main path connecting the two stages in one of Toronto’s few remaining historic sites. Image via Nicholas Castel

This past weekend festival-goers were treated to the triumph that was Field Trip, kicking off Toronto’s summer of popular music, food and art festivals. Vault writers Spencer Swayze and Nick Castel summed up some of their thoughts from the event that brought together some of the best summer energy this city has to offer.

The environment

 One of the most unique aspects of Field Trip was it’s location at the Fort York National Historic Site in downtown Toronto. As newcomers to Field Trip, it was hard to know exactly how that kind of small space would lend to so many full-blown artists and shows. One entrance, required climbing down fortification walls and through a large courtyard, just to access the main stage. A little deeper in and low profile 18th century buildings become the walls for a community of local vendors reminiscent of Wolfe Island Music Festival or Wayhome. One of Field Trips strongest qualities was it’s overall feeling of intimacy and community, which was definitely aided by it’s small size. Nothing was too far away, and every spot had great views.

 

Who was there

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Jazz Cartier performing during his Saturday night slot. Image: Spencer Swayze

On day one, Toronto native Jazz Cartier put on one the most memorable shows in a long time, without question. Whether it was his DJ’s hilarious exclamations, or the 20+ water bottles Jacuzzi must have brought on stage with him to drench the crowd, Cartier and crew knew just how get an audience off the ground. It was clear to see that a large majority of the crowd were loyal Jazz Cartier fans as every hook and tag line was shouted back at him. The crowd went absolutely mental when Cartier climbed off his stage and on to the literal hands of his audience. For nearly a full song, the Toronto rapper stood straight up on the hands of his loyal fans beneath him, a set-trick not easy to pull off. Jazz’s set was engaging, full of energy and inspiring for other up-and-coming Toronto artists. Hopefully we can look forward to seeing Jazz on the main stage at next year’s festival.

With no album on the way, and not much released in the past few years, Robyn took a different approach with her show on day two, choosing to play a fully remixed set. Buried in the show were some of her biggest hits, “Hang With Me” and “Dancing On My Own” which went over well, even if the crowd sometimes had a hard time knowing when to sing along (where was Call Your Girlfriend??). Her stage presence however was on point, spending time away from the mic passionately dancing with an entourage of backup dancers, mirrors and lights. Unfortunately, no encore which felt a bit like an unfinished end to the weekend of music.

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Robyn closed the festival with the help of her many backup dancers. Image: Nicholas Castel

 

Basia Bulat playing in the wind during her later 8pm set. The venue was evacuated for several hours on Sunday due to inclement weather. © Nicholas Castel
Basia Bulat playing in the wind during her delayed 8pm set. The weather on Sunday unfortunately cut Dear Rouge and Crimson Wave’s set among others. Photo by Nicholas Castel
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Field Trip was an absolute success in all things food, music and attitude. Pic by Nicholas Castel

Unique and worthwhile

For most of Toronto’s inner-city families, a 20-30 minute drive to Fort York for a day filled with music and games was a no brainer for parents. Field Trip encouraged this family-friendly atmosphere by setting up certain performances meant for kids, such as Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew and Justin Peroff’s performance of songs about bananas and ponies. This was a refreshing scene for a music festival, adding a certain carelessness initiated not by drugs or booze, but rather the laughter and play of kids and their parents. Other notable mentions of the weekend included headliners The National, DIIV, Charlotte Day Wilson, Eliot Sumner and Basia Bulat – a Toronto native who has no trouble showing her true colours with her music.

Beautiful weather on day one had nearly everyone smiling ear to ear, and if it weren’t for the sound of the train or glimpses of the CN tower, it was easy to forget how urban it actually was. Especially with people dancing barefoot in the grass or basking in the sun. Despite a late day two start due to rain, the positive energy was still evident. In the evening, the dramatic weather created some pretty stunning backdrops as the setting sun and towering clouds marched along the horizon. During Ra Ra Riot’s set on the TD Stage, the sun broke through the clouds, creating a golden rain shine for those of us dancing in our Indie 88 poncho’s (good one guys).

Reflecting on the weekend, what made Field Trip special was not just it’s lineup, but rather those special moments dancing in the rain or hoisting up your favourite artists. If anything, Field Trip was proof that little sanctuaries are possible in the middle of the urban goliath that is Toronto. For us, we’ll definitely be coming back.

 

// Nick and Spencer

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nick@thevaultkingston.com
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spencer@thevaultkingston.com

 

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