Canada's festival scene has been more informed by the pomposity and deliciously unaware indulgence of American music festivals than anywhere else. But, despite having a few landmark events that stand apart from the typical frothing neon bacchanals, most Canadian festivals have yet to amass the same cultural currency as other countries.
We will travel far and wide to see an amazing show, but, let's be honest, the rest of the world isn't exactly clamouring to come visit us come festival season. Despite our demure sensibilities, there are a few things about Canadian festivals that we just need to get off our chests.
10. The Weather Sucks
Ontario DJ duo DVBBS may have written "Tsunami" with the Canadian music festival in mind. Prospective concertgoers be warned: this summer, rainclouds circled above stages like brooding, protective mothers. Whether you were at Toronto's VELD (Very Expensive Let Down) or Digital Dreams, the only fashion choice more consistent than kandi bracelets was shitty $10 ponchos.
9. Border Issues Will Ruin a Show
You've been waiting for months to see a big headliner at a Canadian festival, but the day of, he cancels due to "issues at customs." Whether that means some poor schmo in a uniform thought that an Ableton control pad looked like bomb, or he decided to go all super cop over a half-smoked roach, we may never know. What it means for you is a set from whichever C-lister could fly up here from Buffalo the quickest to fill in for them.
8. Coat Check Lines Are Madness
Yup, we have indoor festivals, but only for those willing to brave a labyrinth of supposedly moving queues and perpetual wet-dog smell. Coat check is like some fucked up M.C. Escher take on clubbing in which, through distortions of human perception, the end of a line is paradoxically also the beginning of another, on and on, infinitely.
7. Attendance is Super Low-Key
Diplo and Katy Perry added steam to the Coachella landscape; Susan Sarandon took a refreshing sip of Timothy Leary's ashes at Burning Man; and we all know Will Smith's kids are up to something crazy at SXSW. In Canada, you'll be lucky to see an ex-Degrassi star at a festival, and we don't mean Jimmy Brooks (Drake) either. We're talking Paige or Spinner.
6. Flannel Bros Are out in Force
Spending your bus fare on a used plaid shirt at a flea market does not make you masculine. Neither does sipping Crown Royal out of a flask. You're not a hunter from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan chasing black bears for your afternoon snack; you're a wannabe graphic designer from Scarborough who took the day off to see David Guetta.
5. "Ninja Grinding" is a Real Problem
Feel that—the unsolicited friction of something pressing on your bum? A ninja grinder has emerged out of the inky shadows to "dance" with you. Electronic music is sexual, we get it, but no amount of Mephedrone makes this behaviour ok. If you're trying to turn the back of my dress into a petri dish, you need to ask for permission.
4. Mosquitos Love Festival Flesh
Coachella's dust storms are nothing compared to the vampiric swarm of insects that await you during the summer months in Canada. From Shambhala in the mountains of British Columbia to the grasslands of Ontario, these diminutive pests are the poetic justice for your festival-body hubris. Forget the glow sticks; bring a bug zapper for a lightshow that will also keep you free from West Nile Virus.
3. Public Transit Kills the Vibe
Canadian festivals will wow you with their diverse scenery: winter wonderlands, verdant prairies, and fairytale islands. But, in order to get there you will cram into a city bus next to people that have figured out how to black out before 3pm. As you wade through the clattering sea of Molson tall-boys to disembark, you may find the weary visage of the bus driver haunting you hours later.
2. Visitors to Canada, Stop Demanding Poutine
Yes, you can get poutine at this festival. No, I don't know which hot dog stand sells it. Poutine is a privilege, not a right. And please, don't bitch to me when, unsurprisingly, tepid gravy ladled over Costco cheese and soggy fries is not some profound culinary experience. The best food you will get at this festival is either beer or Gatorade, and you are far, far too drunk to be using a spork—let alone complaining about what a letdown your poutine is.
1. Afterparties Are Way Too Hyped
The AP hype is so real in Canada it devalues the actual festival. Who wants to see deadmau5 in a field when you can see him in an uber-trendy (not to mention dry), state-of-the-art nightclub a mere five hours later? And there's no way we're going to show up early to a festival to watch the "hometown heroes" from Oakville drop their edit of "Animals" at 2 PM when the "real party" doesn't start for 12 more hours.