Toronto’s Getting Its Own Bonnaroo (Kinda)

And so it’s started: The 2015 music festival season. Okay, we’re still a ways away from any actual festivals but over the past 48 hours we’ve been given lineups for Coachella and Governors Ball and confirmation on what could possibly be a massive Ontario festival. No, not the rumoured Toronto edition of Lollapalooza (what is up with that any way?); we’re getting our own spin on Bonnaroo.

While basically all of the known details can be found over in this Exclaim! piece, the essentials are this: the event, which will be organized by one of Bonnaroo’s co-founders and the people behind the Boots and Hearts festival, will take place from July 24 to 26 at the recently renovated Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in Barrie. The lineup will be diverse, the ticket prices low and yes, there will be the option to camp; the venue has capacity for 70,000 attendees and 45,000 campers. Also, the festival will not be called HomeAway, a name which apparently was just a working title.


So now the big question is, who will be performing on this event’s four stages? Well, I imagine that there will be some overlap, particularly in the Canadian content area, with Hillside, which is happening the exact same weekend. Osheaga and Lollapalooza are taking place the following weekend so there will likely be quite a few repeating acts amongst those three festivals.

Taking a look at the lineups for Coachella and Governors Ball, and knowing who is touring/has recently had successful shows in Toronto, I’m thinking these names might appear: Jack White, Hozier, Belle and Sebastian, Tame Impala, Florence + the Machine, the Weeknd, Vance Joy, War on Drugs, Ryan Adams, FKA Twigs, Milky Chance, Jungle, George Ezra and Mother Mother.

Will Toronto Bonnaroo get a ferris wheel?
Will Toronto Bonnaroo get a ferris wheel?

Ok, maybe they won’t all end up performing at Toronto Bonnaroo but some local festival, whether it be Field Trip or TURF or something else, will likely be bringing these acts around this summer.

Toronto Bonnaroo is supposed to also have a “late night forest,” which I read as a code word for “rave.” With Digital Dreams snapping up so many big dance names (they have Carl Cox who I would love to see again), I’m really curious to see what Toronto Bonnaroo’s dance lineup is like. I’m not sure what the curfew rules are up at Burl’s Creek are but if they don’t exist, well, Toronto Bonnaroo could be quite the party.

It also has the potential to be a complete nightmare. I have to admit that I’m not as excited about this event as I should be because I just keep having flashes of car-related chaos. Apparently shuttles will be offered between Toronto and the campgroup but come on, this is the GTA, people are going to drive and it’s going to be slow and painful (which means the lineup better be damn good to justify the gridlock).

I’m also not crazy about the camping element but that’s because I have a policy of not spending the night anywhere where I don’t have access to a flush toilet (I know, I’m a total princess). But maybe some of those venue renos included real bathrooms? And maybe yurts, complete with cots, will be available to us city folk?

I do know that if I had to choose between a hotel room and traffic chaos or camping with an outhouse, the hotel room/traffic chaos would win. I wonder how many other people would feel the same.

I have no doubt that there are people out there who will love Toronto Bonnaroo and the element of camping. But are there 70,000? Okay, that’s big number for a brand new festival so let’s scale it down to 40,000. Are there 40,000 people in Toronto and surrounding area who are willing to spend a prime July weekend camping in Barrie at an inaugural music festival? If the lineup is right, I think there will be. But that lineup has got to be stronger than at least Osheaga (while I would pick Lolla over Osheaga any day, I think the Montreal event is a bigger competition than Chicago’s).

That’s a lot of people

As a music festival fan, I’m really looking forward to how Toronto Bonnaroo develops and hope that whatever happens, it strengths Toronto’s overall music scene and leads to more opportunities, more income and more good times.

But while I love big, outdoor festivals, I know that they aren’t everyone’s thing. If they don’t interest you, but quality live music does, check out Wavelength Music Festival’s 2015 lineup. Taking place February 13 to 15 at a variety of Toronto venues, this event is essentially the opposite version of a big, corporate, outdoor festival. A weekend pass will run you $33 and will give you access to dozens of great local bands, including a reunited controller.controller (who I actually only ever saw at an outdoor music festival). It will definitely be money well spent (and money I would spend if I was in town).



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