My Ideal Toronto Music Festival

This morning, Indie 88.1 FM asked this question: What do we need for a successful music festival in #Toronto?

Let's minimize this
Let’s minimize this

Since I touched on the need for Toronto to have a major music festival in Sunday’s post on how to grow this city’s music scene, I figured I might as well share my top 10 must-have list for such a festival, which I will be calling ITF in this post.

1. A date that’s not too early (or too late): I loved Field Trip, I really did, but I could have done without having to bring a sweater and wear pants because of the early June date. Unfortunately, in this country, early June nights can be on the cold side. ITF would be set in July, when the weather is usually hot but we’re not quite sick of the heat yet.

2. A spacious location: Like most people I hate being squished. ITF would have a ton of space not just in front of the stages but in the pathways between the stage-to-stage, in the artisan village (more on that later on), in the various food and drink areas, yes, everywhere.

3. A location that has a variety of transportation options: In Sunday’s post, I mentioned using the CNE grounds as the home for ITF. Part of the reason why I like that space is that it offers a range of transportation options: There’s the GO train, two streetcar options (King is the other one), tons of parking for those who have to drive (and remember, this is Toronto, people will want to drive) and more and more people are living within walking distance of it.

4. Easy ways to buy tickets: Buying tickets to ITF online should be smooth, quick and won’t use Ticketmaster, at least not for the presales. These presales would have a small discount applied to them and will clearly state when they’ve sold out. Tickets should also be available at the usual, local brick-and-mortar stores. And once the day-by-day lineup is announced, single day passes would be made available.

Two stages are better than one
Two stages are better than one

5. Smart stage set-up: I’m picturing ITF to have at least five stages, plus some kind of dance/DJ tent. While stage #5 and the dance one would be sort of tucked away, the two main ones would each occupy one end of the venue and would have a smaller stage to one side of them. This type of set-up should have less crowd movement than a set up where none of the stages are near each other, meaning less shoving, less missing the start, or end, of an act and less frustration.

6. Flush toilets: My completely unrealistic dream music festival would only have flush toilets, and lots of them, that would all have a dedicated attendant who would keep them sparkling. But since there’s no way that will ever happen, I propose instead that there be an almost secret cache of flush toilets that those in the know, and with patience, can use.

7. Various ways to cool down: So I scheduled ITF for July because I wanted hot weather for it. But while I love hot, humid weather, I know that not everyone does and even I can only handle so much for so long. To deal with this, ITF would have plenty of free water stations as well as those cooling/spritzing fans set up and guys with hoses who would help to cool off a hot crowd.

8. A wide variety of reasonably priced food vendors: ITF would basically just copy what Field Trip did, including ideally teaming up with the Toronto Underground Market, to offer dozens and dozens of food vendors who would be selling everything from poutine to stuffed buns to foods on sticks, all for under $10.

Everyone's hero
Everyone’s hero

9. A variety of alcohol: I know that this area can be tricky because of how alcohol sponsorship works but somehow ITF would offer a range of beers, wines, coolers and cocktails. While the full range of options wouldn’t necessarily be offered everywhere, there would be at least two large bar-like areas near each of the main stages where people could go and drink everything from a local beer to a whiskey sour to a glass of white wine. And yes, once you bought your alcohol, you would be able to take it anywhere on the festival grounds.

10. Stuff to do besides music: I know, I know, it should be about the music but look, if we want to hold a massive, 50,000+ music festival, we need to appeal to more than just the hardcore music fans and this means offering a variety of activities. One of the more straightforward ones is some kind of “artisan village” where local vendors could sell everything from lip gloss to clothing. There would also be some kind of arts and crafts area where people could explore their more creative side and of course a kids’ area, for those with little kids (who yes, would be allowed in for free in order to encourage their parents to buy tickets). Oh, and a “nap” area, which could be as simple as a bunch of bean bag pillows in a shaded area.

Of course, it should go without saying, an amazing lineup is also needed. This lineup needs to cross genres, as well as decades, as should include the next big things as well as those that have already arrived. A 2014 festival lineup would include the likes of Arcade Fire, Lorde, Azealia Banks and dare to dream, Daft Punk.

All of this isn’t too much to ask, is it?


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