Virgin Festival Canada Cancellations – Canada Deserves A Major Outdoor Festival
I was sad yesterday to hear the announcement that there would be no Virgin Festivals in Canada this year. Financial reasons were cited, as well as the lack of availability of headline acts.
Admittedly, V-Fest ’09 in Toronto was a bit of a disappointment. I can’t speak about the other V-Fests held across Canada because I wasn’t there. In Toronto, festival goers bemoaned the lack of quality in the line-up, but the biggest let-down to me was the decision to move the festival from an outdoor setting north of Toronto to within the confines of Molson Ampitheatre. Sure, having a festival downtown in a major city is convenient and cheaper for fans, but where’s the adventure? Half the fun of music festivals is the journey getting there.
One of my favourite festival experiences in my life so far was at Sunderland, England for BBC’s One Big Weekend 2005. At that time I was working a minimum wage part-time job in north Scotland but I had a car, and I scraped together the petrol money to make the journey – all the tickets were free, with mine coming from a friend who’d won a pair. At the end of the festival, I remember having the time of my life driving around the muddy field that was a make-shift parking lot, and I picked up a few weary festival goers who were hitchhiking home. That was a lot of fun! The whole weekend had felt like a proper music festival: It was outdoors, it was in a field, the weather was crazy (both good, then bad – hail stones in summer!), there was tons of great music, and there was a sense of community.
I could write pages recounting my favourite festival experiences, but they all have the same thing in common – they were held in wide open spaces, either in the countryside or on the edge of a town. Stavern and Tromso festivals in Norway, Speyside Music Festival in Scotland, heck, even Warped Tour ’06 at some field in Barrie, Ontario where the mosh pits created sandstorms. Epic. And travelling back on a bus from Barrie to Toronto while sharing experiences with others was a blast.
My point is, with all this land that Ontario (and Canada) has available, why can’t we have a major outdoor festival? Forget about the financial stuff – just find a park or field somewhere and book the bands. Most music fans are short on cash, or plain dirt poor, myself included, but if you get a great line-up in a great location then people will find a way. Waynestock, anyone?
Virgin Mobile Canada using the recession as an excuse for not putting on festivals this year is absolute nonsense. Perhaps more of the truth lies in the fact they weren’t able to find the bands for the dates. But, where there is a will, there is a way. As a music fan, I am gutted about the loss of Virgin Festival’s in Canada for this season because it leaves a gaping void in the festival calendar. Sure, NXNE in Toronto this June will be brilliant, but that’s a multi-venue showcase format festival – in terms of a major outdoor festival Ontario is left sadly wanting.
I really hope that Virgin Festival makes a triumphant return to Canada in 2011. If they get their act together, then there is massive potential for V-Fest to become the major outdoor festival that Canada so dearly deserves. You don’t have to look far for inspiration: Across the pond in the UK, the festivals are looking great this year and are largely all already sold-out – and the UK’s economy is in no worse health than Canada’s! (The Canadian Loonie has been stronger than the British Pound Sterling for many months).
Maybe in 2011 Ontario will have an outdoor festival to be proud of – for this year though, for those who can make it, the best festival action in Canada is happening in Montreal. Read about that in our freshly posted Montreal festival guide.
Football Fever – A Week To Go Until The World Cup Kicks Off!
Just seven days to go! Wow. The 32 nations competing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa will confirm their final squads of 23 players today.
I noticed on Twitter that Rolo Tomassi have created their own fantasy football league, allowing fans of the band to compete against them for bragging rights. How about that for being involved with your fans? To join Rolo Tomassi’s Fantasy League you’ll need to register for the McDonald’s sponsored official free fantasy World Cup game on FIFA’s website here. Once you register for the game, you can join Rolo Tomassi’s league with this code: 366397-85660.
I’ll be selecting my own fantasy football team as soon as the World Cup squads are confirmed. The first name on my team sheet will be Lionel Messi, and I suspect that’ll be the same case for nearly everyone. Here’s a reminder of why many people consider Messi to be the ‘new Maradona’ – oh, and bonus, another hilarious commentator!
You Sank My Battleship! – Politics And Football
There is always a political understory or two to any World Cup. One story this year is the presence of North Korea who are competing in the tournament for the first time since 1966 – but it’s unlikely the North Korea public will get to see any of it. North Korea are currently in a lot of hot water for sinking a South Korean navy ship, an incident that killed 46 people. As tensions grow between North and South Korea, the North Korean public look set to miss out on watching their team in action on TV. And despite North Korea being allocated 17,000 match tickets from FIFA, none of their fans will fly to South Africa due to rules imposed by their ruler Kim Jong-il.
Foreign journalists rarely get access inside of North Korea, but recently the BBC got inside and here’s one interesting video that shows a glimpse of the bubble that North Korean people find themselves living in.
North Korea compete in this year’s World Cup in Group G, the so-called “group of death”. There is a wealth of threat and talent in Group G: Brazil have a host of superstars including Kaka, Portugal have their wonderboy Christiano Ronaldo, the Ivory Coast have Didier Drogba, while North Korea… well, North Korea have nukes!
My Own Personal World Cup – My Preparations For The Charity Football Match at NXNE
Well, this past week I’ve ixnayed on the Crunchies but also inxnayed on the crunches. I didn’t get the chance to get out on a pitch this week either, so no fresh tales of being chased by pooches. However, I have been getting a good sweat by working out at the 99 Sudbury gym. I’ve been there four or five times now so far, and I feel like I’m making some kind of progress. I pretty much just stick to the exercise bikes and yesterday I hit the ‘Fitness Test’ button on a bike. That was an experience. After 15 minutes I could no longer pedal fast enough to keep up with the target RPM’s. An on-screen message gave me a bunch of numbers and percentile’s that mean nothing to me, but according to this machine’s analysis using the Cooper test, my fitness level is ‘”above average”. I guess it could be worse! I think I’ll set a personal goal of trying to get that machine to tell me something a bit nicer within a couple of weeks time.
Match day for the NXNE game is Sunday, 20 June, so I have just over a fortnight left to prepare. In the meantime, I’m pleased that my personal sponsorship goal for the Right To Play charity is now at the 50% mark. Should you wish to make a donation to the charity to help kids play sports, here’s the link to the page on Right To Play: http://righttoplay.akaraisin.com/p/banks.aspx Thanks to anyone who donates to the cause.
Heard about Rick K and the Allnighters yet? If you haven’t seen this video, then you’re in for a treat – keep your eyes on the drummer, he’s awesome.
© Brian Banks, Music Vice