turf_teaserTURF, Toronto’s Urban Roots Festival and one of the leaders in the city’s downtown music festival scene (that put Fort York’s Garrison Common on the map as an event destination) returns Sept 16-18th with 3 full days packed full of diverse live music. There is still news to come from TURF, with one more artist to be announced as of August 3rd.

TURF takes a different approach this year to the over-analyzed “Headliner/tiny font/ who should be on what line” postering style of many other festivals that arm-chair critics are more into than music fans and attendees themselves. In fact, this well-established leading local event has a solid base of returning attendees that need little prompting. And what newcomer and established music/ TURF fans need most of all is a list and a breakdown of days, then of stages, and they go forth and enjoy it. The website is refreshingly straightforward and informative. The broad line up of acts includes James Bay, Death Cab for Cutie, Lush, Ween, Barenaked Ladies, Dropkick Murphys, The Sheepdogs, Whitehorse,  Matthew Good, The Rheostatics, & Dwayne Gretzky (doing The Tragically Hip). With over 40 bands on the bill including some of Canada’s very best artists and visits from great bands both south of the border and  abroad, there is something for everyone during what’s usually the most seasonably perfect time for music festival goers in Toronto: September.

Flying the flag of Shoegaze as we do here at Step On Magazine, one of the biggest draws for us is the long -awaited return of Lush, who’ve come back in 2016 with new music (EP Blind Spot, which we’ve reviewed as one of the very best releases of the first half of the year) and have embarked on a big tour this summer on the strength of the back catalog and new song. We are really excited to see them and see the crowd rediscover the beauty of British Shoegaze sounds in the open air (for the first time for us).

But TURF really has something to offer for every music fan. With our local and nationally strong tradition of rock and bar bands, our homegrown (and down to earth) stars have ways of entertaining people from coast to coast and in any setting. As we’ve said before, traversing this country is no small thing, and the bands who’ve been out playing for years are absolutely world-class. The New Pornographers are among the brightest lights to emerge in the scene in the last decade. Matthew Good has been shaping the sound of Canadian music since the historic music industry heights and creative riches that we all enjoyed in the 1990s.

Northern-southSwedish Garage Rock/Punk band The Hives whose music ranges to the timeless sounds of storytelling and pure folk rock as well, is on the bill with a six-album strong catalogue of their own brand of sounds after a big tour with AC/DC in late 2015.

Folk-rock husband and wife duo, Whitehorse, are one of the most talked about bands in recent years. Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland are now touring new album The Northern  South Vol 1.

Explosions in the Sky, an experimental band full of layered, pretty sounds and musicianship, come out of the Texas post-rock scene, offering Toronto music critics and fans who’ve not yet been able to make the trip to SXSW and other great music sites a great chance to see them live. (See our review of Explosions in the Sky’s album, The Wilderness, here.)

Julien Baker had one of the best sleeper records of 2015; Sprained Ankle was one of our favourites of 2015, which we reviewed here.

TURF’s ticketing structure and pricing is both uncomplicated (how refreshing in the ever-more complicated festival landscape) and extremely reasonable: One day passes are only $85 for GA and $145 for VIP, while Tier 1 GA passes are $185 (for 45 bands!). Note that TURF is a 19 + event.

TURF is also hosting a number of pre & after shows that are seperately ticketed at super-reasonable rates, offering more chances to catch TURF bands an additional time in intimate venues via their Club Series, which kicks off at The Horseshoe September 14th. (Bands include The Sheepdogs and Limblifter) (Note TURF VIP Master Pass holders can see the Club series at no extra charge.)

For more information and tickets, visit TURF’s official website.

We’ll have more coverage of TURF here at Step On Magazine.

See our photo gallery from last year’s TURF, shot by Carrie Musgrave.

By Jacqueline Howell