Die Antwoord, Mac DeMarco, Ariel Pink, BADBADNOTGOOD, Freddie Gibbs, Ryan Hemsworth, Alison Wonderland, DIIV, Tory Lanez, Tommy Kruise, Lobby, Elliot Vincentt Jones @ Time Festival 8/15/2015

Time Festival 2015 at Fort York was a sunny venture that was marred by some nitpicks, as well as a huge, not-so surprising, vicariously awkward event. Whether it’s young adults talking about white culture in indie music, submissives dressed in spiked leather garb, or, heck, a person in a banana suit, Time had people having good, sweaty fun. Though several acts were non-Canadian, their presence never took away from the love of some provincial talent.

Toronto local Elliott Vincent Jones started the festival off in attire that made him look werewolf-ish. With some guitar scrapes and nice heart-rumbling drum beats, the New Order style synths really culminated into something that started the party on a fair note. Next up was Lobby who performed some more ’80s/’90s synth melodies. A notable aspect of this Toronto-based band’s performance was the vocalist’s smooth timbre, which he made much seductive on the fifth track of his set. Though reverb was sickening at times, it wasn’t as bad as the port-a-potty lines in the last quarter of the festival. Be right back, I need to throw up.

Maybe it’s just me, but Tommy Kruise, with his long hair and snapback, looked, from a distance, like Boy George. The first DJ to play, the Montreal-based Kruise unloaded beats with some disjointed textures. Even near the entrance, his superbly tribal bass was felt. His major issue, and the problem with Alison Wonderland later on, was the very abrupt stops that would be used to interact with the audience while his beats were going, a new pet peeve of ours.

Toronto rapper Tory Lanez managed to confuse the crowd for a bit, having his DJ show up before him, making several audience members question why Drake’s “Back to Back” was playing without any sort of remixing. That said, when Lanez did come out, his stage presence and love for his home city brought about a sort of hometown advantage that struggling rappers would strive for. Spitting out energy and generating a nice call-and-response between he and his DJ, the rapper lets the crowd go wild as an inflated donut balloon was tossed to and fro. Oh, and he brought out a hoverboard

The Brooklyn jokesters DIIV performed next, purposely mispronouncing their band name and claiming that they were from New Bork (I’d love to live in a place called that). Though they are indie rockers with a dream pop sound, there was a strange mix of post-hardcore melodies and beach pop. They sometimes came off like shoegaze greats Slowdive, which was neat. The band’s hard-rocking drums and their range from darkly emo to positively bright showed that the group had merit. Nitpick-wise, the singer felt like he was out of breath for long passages, making verses seem wispy when they really shouldn’t have been.

Personally, my favourite act was the next performer, Sydney-based DJ Alison Wonderland. Initially, I assumed that this would be a noise pop group a la Joanna Gruesome, or an indie rock group like Elvis Depressedly–both assumptions were wrong. Her first songs were reminiscent of noise rock band HEALTH, which was a good change of pace from the slow and burdened tempos of DIIV. What she did well was pump the audience up for her bass drops, using some blast beats, fatty synths, and making an even funkier version of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You.” Of course, her mix of Fetty Wap had gotten stuck in my head even after the show. Absolutely talented and full of raw energy, her act was excellent.

Ryan Hemsworth‘s set was also a notable mention. The Halifax DJ started off as given the impression that he had the gentleness of Drake–I’m absolutely sure that the guy could be as gentle as that–but his explosively ricocheting synths dealt a blow that the aforementioned rapper could never do to me. With some of his set sounding like a video game soundtrack mixed with the type of bass electronic artist Grimes would use, it was radical that he managed to make a surprisingly fair mix of Blink-182’s “Feeling This.”

Now’s that part of the set with absolute airhorn abuse…

Freddie Gibbs is an interesting fellow. This Gary, Indiana rapper walked on stage with his gangsta armour ready, spitting flows and examining the thug life, having a rap style similar to Busta Rhymes but with more N.W.A. to it. His chorus flows were particularly smooth and the way he held himself as both an angered individual and a composed rapper was a bonus. He referenced the Six in a way that would make Drake proud. Can we find a way to clone people already? We need at least a million of Gibbs’s lungs for transplants. The man sounds as if he doesn’t take a breath at all when he’s on lyrical fire.

BADBADNOTGOOD started off as the sun was ready to set, welcoming the much needed night breezes. These Torontonians spread the jazzy wonderment right after fixing the first noticeable technical issues that would hamper the night–the keyboard cutting off. The band’s sound–whether it’s from the bass, tenor sax, or drums–was absolutely cacophonous and upbeat. With one track they could sound like they’re catching a movie’s big bad, while another track could have atmospheric space synths and the production quality of Flying Lotus. The band has made it a long way, and coming back to the city, with a lion suit in tow for their explosive finale, really demonstrated growth for the band. Like previous acts, they treated everyone on-stage and off like family, and in our collective tiredness we gladly welcomed it.

Ariel Pink was clearly one with the substances when he came out on stage. His Iggy Pop-like enthusiasm and Ozzy Osbourne-inspired shrieks really did a number to those without ear plugs. The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist brought a stage band along, and they blew the crowd away in more ways than one. The psychedelic and classic guitar blends made Pink’s almost gibberish lyrics have some sense in them. The feedback, however, was obnoxiously piercing, and the idea that those up close could see the artist’s unmentionables was certainly not a consolation prize (we apologize if you notice them in our photos).

The fact that the man needs a second paragraph really indicates how polarizing the man is. In the middle of his set, his mic failed. In the mind of Ariel Pink, the obvious reaction would be to storm off stage, leaving his band to play without the singer. Again. The confrontational singer lashed out at the technical crew along the side of the stage, raising his arms and losing all of his patience. This occurred roughly four times, and, unsurprisingly, the crowd felt the absolute vicarious awkwardness. Pom Pom was more or less a great record. It was a shame that the artist did not perform as well in his set. The band emanated the words Screw it! and left the stage, leaving everyone without a finale.

But on a more positive note, Mac DeMarco came in feeling like a hillbilly Mr. Rogers, welcoming the crowd and having his stage band gross us out with talks of touching port-a-potties and awkward flatulence. Coming in with loud, hypnotic reverb, the audience immediately fell in love. He played tracks off his recently released Another One, as well as oldies fitting enough for everyone to raise lighters and brighten up the night, especially with the awkward set previous. “No Other Heart” managed to feel much sadder, while their rendition of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” was, in a word, insane.  The band ended off on a perfect note, with DeMarco telling the crowd, in a prayer group fashion, to look at the cars driving along the sidelines. He wanted everyone to appreciate themselves. His head voice ended things off appropriately. Please have my babies, DeMarco.

The final act, the Cape Town-based rap duo Die Antwoord, demonized the skies with their bassy, fist-pumping electronics. Ninja was dressed in a Pikachu suit while Yolandi had something similar on. Despite these cutesy outfits, the bubbly, twerk-initiating beats worked so well. The crowd went wild, and though the editor and I left their set early, there was a feeling that their three tracks had a lasting impact, whether on our thoughts or our ears. I still can feel like I can hear nothingness.

The missteps that occurred in the second half of Time did much to strain the enjoyment of the event. In spite of this, the idea that the Toronto locals and Canadian groups grounded themselves on the idea of family really made the festival have a silver lining. Mac DeMarco’s ascension into Canadian rock star status and BADBADNOTGOOD’s hometown hero fame did well to energize the country’s music scene. Here’s hoping that the next Time will have fewer problems.

  • Mcjagger

    ariel pink didnt bitch out, some dickhead came and told them they were being cut probably due to ariels aggressiveness towards the sound tech. The drummer even said, “Wow, alright… we even had an amazing finale planned out for you guys.”

    • Dustin Ragucos

      You’ve got a good memory. I do recall him saying something to that effect. I didn’t notice someone telling them they were cut, but it’s very reasonable that it would be the case. I really was hoping to see them perform their finale. I’m sure Pink would’ve topped BBNG’s lion suit.

    • he did have a certain right to be upset about the sound the feedback that was happening was deafening!

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