| July 3, 2011 | Comments (326)

With a lineup like this Canada Day in Toronto was pretty much a guaranteed winner, the only variable being the weather. Well it was a beautiful day, with warm sun and just enough breeze to keep the humidity away. Gates opened at 2p.m. at Downsview Park in the north end of the city. Adjacent to a small airport runway, the concert field was set up in a wide grassy bowl surrounded by old airport hangars.

The crowds were still arriving and just getting settled in with their first drinks of the day when Buck 65 kicked things off. Though a solo artist he was able to fill the stage with his exaggerated expressions and gestures. Rhymes flowed easily into the crowd, which continued to gather. It was the right kind of vibe for the time of day, and a good warm up for things to come.

Hey Rosetta! took the second slot for the day. Another East Coast band (as is Buck 65) has some faithful followers in this city, and I suspect all across the country. Completely different music though to the opener. Foot tapping, hip swaying tunes that fit perfectly into this portion of the day. For those who didn’t want to stand up front at the crowded stage were just as happy to enjoy sitting on beach towels in the grass. Though around for a while now, this band continues its rise. Get out and see them before they’re headlining these shows.

Broken Social Scene filled the middle portion of the day. They did seem to push over a hump as the anticipation of Weezer coming up next was building. Though still thoroughly fun it was as though this was a distraction for both band and crowd. The set never really seemed to lift off with any conviction. No fault of the band, which still performed well, and threw some covers of Modest Mouse and The Beastie Boys out there just to see who was paying attention.

The audience now was beginning to heave. Weezer was up and any other time this would be the end of the night. On this day however they were next to last. With the sun setting behind the stage and the large “W” behind Rivers Cuomo flashing things began to kick into high gear. Many favorites from the affectionately known “Blue” album were brought out. It’s expected that the album is to be played in its entirety when Weezer heads to Montreal. Almost every song was a sing-a-long for which Rivers said he would pass on to the Montreal faithful; “I’ll let them all know what great singers you are”. One cover of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, they also recorded in their studio for which there’s a video. A really fun set and a treat for me, bringing back memories from too many years ago to mention.

The Tragically Hip arrived just as the sun fell behind the stage and off the faces of the now capacity crowds filling this relatively small field. Gord Downie and crew were ready for this; in fact I think they’re made for this now. No more is there a modern staple of Canadian music than “The Hip”. Even in other countries where they haven’t heard the band, they still know them by name. This set was another sing-a-long of sorts, though Gord echoed the crowd many times, as he does. I don’t know if that’s to play with them for his amusement, or just to change things up for his own sanity. They are truly a band possessed when they get going. I’ve heard them since I was so young, and just now was my first show. Really though what better first show than to see these guys on Canada Day. I wandered (and sometimes danced) through the crowd, changing positions through the set. Everywhere I went, people were dancing and singing along. Every once in while almost stepping on people who didn’t pace themselves throughout the day.

After a final encore the masses tried to exit out the northern gates. No Canada Day would be complete without fireworks though and over the southern end of the field they appeared just after the set ended. No American 4th of July display, but they were still great to watch pulling “oohs” and “awes” form the people leaving. A long fun filled day, complete with beautiful weather and amazing music. I think it’ll be a while before this one is topped.

Check out the photos galleries from all the bands by following the links below:

BUCK 65 photos



WEEZER photos


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Category: Photo Updates, Reviews