Wavelength celebrated it’s 17th anniversary with the annual Wavelength Festival this weekend. Friday’s shows were co-presented by Red Bull Sound Select and featured a stacked lineup of TOPS, DIANA, Vallens and Chandra.
Post-punk veteran Chandra Oppenheim, who recently re-issued the 12 year old Transportation played with a super group of Toronto artists including members of New Chance, Touch Age and Bile Sister. This avant-punk provided the funky (and occasionally melodica-laden) grooves that got people moving early on.
Next up was Vallens with brooding dark pop, played in a more upbeat manner than it is on record. WIth dissonant vibes from songs like “Consent”, “Devour” and “Tennesse Haze”, tension and release continually teased the audience throughout the set.
DIANA is no stranger to Wavelength, as back in 2014, the band showed off the smooth jazzy grooves of Perpetual Surrender. Since then, their songwriting has grown, having the strong earwormy lyrics to match their musicianship. On the live stage, there was a strong band of 7 including Ivy Mairi and stunner Gary Beals on backing vocals. When Carmen Elle & Beals started duetting in “Slipping Away” the audience swooned. There was a beautiful camaraderie on stage, as the performers looked like they were enjoying themselves just as much as we were.
Headlining the night was Montrealer’s TOPS who brought their sunkissed 80s inspired pop tunes to the dark Garrison. Jane Penny and her bandmates (who for some reason reminded me a little of Mac Demarco) were playful kicking back bottles of liquor on stage. Penny’s delivery of her tender vocals always looks effortless. The audience, who were hopped up on energy drinks, danced onto the night and sung along to their singles like “Want to be Loved” and went crazy for “Diamond Look”.
Night 1 of Wavelength was only a warm up for all the awesome sets that I would see that weekend. Stay tuned for Night 2.