Saturday August 4th – Fort York, Toronto

I wasn’t able to catch M83 touring with Neon Indian earlier in Toronto in 2012, so you can imagine that as soon as I heard they were coming back to Toronto I nabbed up a couple tickets as fast as I could. Add in {headliner} Justice, along with 2011 Shortlist Polaris nominee, Austra and not to mention, up and comer, Charli XCX and Buraka Som Sistema and you have yourself a little kick-ass concert – smack dab in the middle of the same weekend that Both, Osheaga and Lollapalooza is on.

I arrived at the concert 4 hours before the gates opened to assure optimal positioning. It turned out to be about 3.5 hours too early but hey – at least we got what we came for. Going into the concert it seemed clear that most people were there to see M83 but as the night rained and went on the crowd got increasingly thicker (and drunker) as it seemed everyone was getting hyped up to see Justice. I was somewhat surprised by this due to recent lack luster reviews of Justice’s new music. I should note that I AM a fan of what I’ve heard from Justice lately.

Charli XCX (UK) – Opening Band
Hands down, this girl has talent. You can tell she loves what she does. She talked with the crowd, she moved her entire body dancing all over the stange to the music and she’s got a great voice too! I spotted her about a year ago supporting other artists on tour. I was hoping to get a glimpse of her and glad I did. You may notice that her sound is similar to Niki And The Dove.

 

Buraka Som Sistema (Portugal) – Second Band
I had really no idea what to expect from this band as I can honestly say that I listened just to a couple songs on youtube before seeing them live. Perhaps that was the key because seeing them perform live was such a completely heightening experience. They had a great Island, Caribbean, Reggie, DJ Dance Vibe that didn’t stop the entire performance. They absolutely got new fans from their performance – me being one of them.

 

Austra (Toronto) – Third Band
Any band following Buraka Som Sistma would need to keep a high-level of energy to keep it going. Fortunately for us it was was 2011 Shortlist Polaris nominee, Austra – A 5-piece indie electro band. Austra right out of the gate had a unique on stage presence that I would kindly classify as awkward. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because what they do on stage just worked. Lead singer Katie Stelmanis has a fantastic voice which is showcased in all their songs respectively.

 

M83 (France) – Fourth Band
Finally, what I was mostly waiting for (after a short rain delay), M83! Put aside my excitement to see this band and they still knocked it out of the park (even with a few glitches in their sound, which were probably from the rain screwing with their equipment). I must admit I was a little nervous of how their live sound would translate to a live show as much of their music is electronic. However, they put all of those concerns to bed right away with a masterful live production. The lighting effects were simply stunning and their friendly on-stage energy was electric. I was amazed and delighted by how much of a role, Morgan Kibby (female vocals and keyboard) had in pretty much every song. Their show alone put them in my top 5 bands to see live in the last 2 years. Four of the bands in that category are: Cut Copy, Foals, John Maus and The Drums. Oh, I should mention The Sax player was phenomenal.

 

JUSTICE (France) – Headliner
Wait, there’s still one more band… err DJ – Justice! After the rain stopped (about an hour rain delay) Justice went on. The Stage display was filled with towering speakers (makes me think of the movie, Scott Pilgram). Justice is all about dramatics and timing. They know how to perform to a live crowd. The entire show people couldn’t stop jumping (or crowd surfing) as there were waves of excitement and lights shooting out all over from the stage. To the delight and surprise of the crowd in the middle of Justice’s performance (and at the end of their show) the two huge speaker walls separated to reveal a illuminated keyboard – where Gaspard Augé came down from DJing and played – It was a nice touch. The show lasted over an hour easily with 2 encores to delight of all the fans screaming/singing, “We are, Your Friends…”. I absolutely enjoyed the set, but I would have enjoyed it better if i didn’t get so battered and bruised by trying to enjoy it, but hey… perhaps that’s the cost you pay for being front/middle. That said, the soft serve ice cream and slushy helped with the recovery!

Overall, it was a fantastic line-up for a $40 early bird ticket – Good thing the ticket was cheap because all of the Toronto Hotels were double, if not triple the price that weekend due to Caribana.

 

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Aaron McMillan

Aaron is the Founder / Chief Editor and curator of Indie Underground. He was the Festival / Music Director for the 2017 Dundas Street Festival and the Music Director in 2016. He is scene builder / promoter for select events in London Ontario, Toronto, Canada, and Southwestern Ontario. When Aaron's not working on Indie Underground, you'll usually find him at a concert or DIY event. He's a sucker for anything that glows in the dark and the company of his cat, Charlie. Watch for Aaron to make a return to DJing in 2018 when he will begin to mix Trance.