Is Field Trip Announcement a Farewell to Toronto Festivals?
With the announcement that Field Trip, one of Toronto’s music and arts festivals, is going on hiatus, it seems like big musical events in the city are becoming scarcer. If it doesn’t return in 2020, it will join Bestival, Warped Tour, and Riot Fest in the festival graveyard. While cities like Montreal seem to be thriving, why is Toronto on a downward spiral?
Riot Fest cited removing Toronto from their stops because of “local changes in Riot Fest’s partnership.” Union Events, the original organizer, had been bought out by Live Nation Entertainment in early 2016 and Riot Fest was one of the events that they decided to no longer support. Warped Tour founder, Kevin Lyman, had different reasoning behind ending his festival, citing a decline in ticket sales and band participation. Though a 25-year anniversary celebration is set to happen in 2019, Toronto doesn’t seem like it will be one of the stops, marking the end of the punk rock heyday. UK-based Bestival pulled out after only two years in the city, but these are all international festivals. What about Toronto’s very own?
Toronto Urban Roots Festival (T.U.R.F.) has been absent for several summers now, and Time Festival, though short lived, has yet to make an appearance since 2016. Edgefest is presumed to be defunct too, ever since its namesake 102.1 The Edge came to an end. Is this faltering scene caused by big corporate buyouts or have Torontonians lost their passion for festivals? Digital Dreams and Veld seem to be faring well but they’re the new kids on the block.
The music festival decline may seem discouraging but it isn’t an accurate reflection of Toronto’s overall blip in the North American music scene. We’re still a stop on almost every major tour with bands often adding two or three dates. Local venues may not offer the comfort of grassy patches and rows of porta-johns but the drinks are a hell of a lot cheaper. While this may be a downward trend, it can always be turned around. New public spaces like the Bentway are promising for the community, with Toronto bands like Brave Shores and The Darcys playing shows there. And if Field Trip does return, Toronto’s music scene might just become a little bit louder.