When international listeners make passing reference to contemporary "Canadian indie" as a concept or genre unto itself, they're typically thinking about either of the country's two largest creative hubs. One is Montreal, an endlessly fertile scene that serves as the home base for Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Grimes, and countless other successful artists, not to mention several gigantic festivals and a vital French language music community. The other is Toronto, the one with the iconic tower and the laughingstock mayor, and it's impossible to delve into the products of Toronto's musical community without mentioning Arts & Crafts and Broken Social Scene. The label and its flagship collective are inextricably tied together: Arts & Crafts was established in 2003 to serve as a launching pad for what would become Broken Social Scene's breakthrough record and defining accomplishment, You Forgot It in People.
After that album exploded off the back of an effusive, glowing Pitchfork review, the label embarked on a course of internal growth, managing subsequent releases from a handful of artists tied to Broken Social Scene. By 2005, A&C had signed its first band that wasn't linked to BSS, at least not in terms of personnel—that would be GTA indie pop sextet The Most Serene Republic, a band whose sonic debt to Kevin Drew, Brendan Canning & co. isn't exactly buried—and the remainder of the decade saw several of their artists rise to larger international fame, including Feist and Stars. Meanwhile, Broken Social Scene released two more well received records (2005's self-titled effort and 2010's farewell Forgiveness Rock Record) before entering an indefinite hiatus in November 2011.
2013 marks a full decade of Arts & Crafts operation, and the label is throwing Field Trip, a one-day, two-stage festival in the heart of downtown Toronto, as a celebration of their last ten years of music. They've convened most of their current roster to help out with the festivities, including Bloc Party, Ra Ra Riot, Timber Timbre, Stars, and Zeus, but it's indisputable that the two biggest draws are co-headliners Feist and Broken Social Scene, reunited for a one-night-only performance. This would rate serious interest from local fans and indie-centric sites even if the show was two hours of Kevin Drew's typically spacey stage banter—think Rob Ford jokes and gooey vagaries about peace, love, and this great city—and absent-minded guitar noodling; when Drew announced on Twitter that the entire BSS crew would be ripping through You Forgot It in People in full, Field Trip became one of the summer's must-see events, at least for this entry-level Canadian altbro.
I'll be covering the day for Noisey, so check back here next week for a festival write-up and pictures of all the food I bought while there. And if you're in the area with a chunk of weekend free time, don't worry—there's still time to snap up a ticket or two. We could all use a break from Crackgate, right?
Jamieson Cox is Canada's number-three entry-level altbro. He's on Twitter - @jamiesoncox