4 shows in Vancouver… I was shocked to see that the centre of the universe - sorry, Canada - sorry, forget it - is not on his schedule. What?! Lucky Vancouver!
Somewhere between Queen and Dundas near Bathurst!
I checked out the Foundry festival this weekend. Got my boogie on! Happening every weekend through March, the Foundry festival seems almost like a retrospective of electronic music. It peaked my interest with a roster of DJs who have been honing their craft for decades from Detroit to Manchester and back to Toronto. It’s the opportunity to pry open a somewhat elusive scene through a comprehensive set of curated shows. My only whine though is about the lack of female presence. It would be amazing, and fitting, to see a selection of female DJs included in this survey of the underground. But no tokens please.
In addition to the music, digital visuals are equally part of each Foundry show, rounding out the creative, collaborative spirit. This sounded like something I had to see.
Most of my hate for generic house music comes from the top 40 selection that is most readily accessible. I know there is more to it from the sample of amazing electronic artists I’ve stumbled across off the charts. Headlining DJs, like Juan Atkins and Andres, have been mixing since the ’80s, so Foundry is really not about the anthem of the moment but something deeper - a lifelong pursuit of expression and experiment.
This weekend, I checked out the show at Blk Box on hip Queen Street West, headlined by Omar S with Reference and Martin Fazekas. It started at 10pm and by 2:30am, my friend and I simply could dance no more, though the show did go on. For house music, it was delightful. Now I think I just want to go back in time about 15 years and really explore the rave scene of my youth! In this day and age though, I hope to check out at least one more of the Foundry shows this month and get a better feel for the vibe of the fest.
Video of the Omar S show (pardon the rough sound).
As a native West Coaster, I can not fathom surviving winter conditions as a homeless person in Toronto. I have barely adapted to winter here as a person who is clothed and housed! Imagine sleeping or even walking all day in -11C, the average Ontario temperature in February so far. And that doesn’t account for the effect of the wind, which made it “feel like -16” yesterday! I doubt most of the people on the street have a nice Canada Goose parka either.
This year, I discovered Coldest Night of the Year, a night walk to raise money for local anti-poverty and homelessness charities. How could I say no? In Toronto, the Yonge Street Mission will receive all the money raised from the event for its’ preventative and immediate programs related to homelessness. These include programs on food, health care, housing, education, employment and mental health.
One local trait of homelessness in Toronto that was new to me is how some people sleep in the middle of the sidewalks on top of grates. These grates happen to gush hot air upwards, acting as makeshift sources of heat. It makes a very disturbing picture to see busy business people downtown in rush hour walk around these people on the ground. Not sure how I feel about taking a picture of that to show you, but I think you ‘get the picture’.
True, Vancouver has major issues with homelessness related to mental illness and drug abuse, but in a context of relatively temperate weather. I think what I’ve noticed is how the challenges are different in each city partly because of geography and climate. You may freeze to death in Vancouver, you will certainly freeze to death in Toronto.
The needs are different in each city too. Seeing someone with an untreated mental illness in the streets is much less common in TO and I do not get approached for money nearly as often as in Vancouver. Out west, I felt the psychological strain of seeing rampant destitution and distress on a daily basis. I feel this underlying tension really has a built up effect on the mentality of the general population, and it’s bursting at the seams in Vancouver.
Not to say similar problems don’t exist in Toronto, it’s just more hidden and less concentrated in one area. They say Toronto is about the variety of neighborhoods and I think its’ poverty can be traced that way. The type of problems vary more in Toronto too, but I’m not an expert to comment on them. Whereas, Vancouver has very distinct, dominant sources of its’ problems concentrated most notably in one or two neighbourhoods.
I could go on forever with these amateur observations, but the Coldest Night of the Year speaks for itself. You can get direct info on their website and also donate online to this year’s campaign. I definitely welcome any comments you may have on Vancouver or Toronto’s situations as well!