LIVE MUSIC PREVIEW: Toronto set to enjoy ‘historic’ summer season
After the famine, comes the feast — in terms of live music — in Toronto.
The COVD-19 driven two-year absence of a continuous summer music season in the city has meant pent-up audience demand to see shows, says Erik Hoffman, the Toronto President for leading concert promoter Live Nation Canada.
To wit, Hoffman says Budweiser Stage’s 16,000-capacity outdoor amphitheatre — run by Live Nation — will have a record-breaking season with 65 concerts booked between May and September and another 15-20 shows at the adjacent RBC Echo Beach.
“The excitement level is through the roof in terms of arriving at a place of consistency,” said Hoffman, referring to the many COVD-related lockdowns and restrictions since the March 2020 start of the pandemic.
“There are some shows where people have held onto their tickets for two years or longer. It’s a long time to ask people to hold onto their ticket. It’s a big commitment. And then you go, ‘Okay, let’s gear up for a real season and get our business back.’”
Hoffman says most outdoor (or indoor) Live Nation shows won’t require COVID-10 vaccine proof or the wearing of masks — which is optional — but there are “a few shows that will have individual vaccination requirements.”
First up at Budweiser Stage is the May 15 Juno Awards, which will take place outside for the first time in its 51-year history with performances by Arcade Fire, Arkells, Avril Lavigne and more that will be broadcast on CBC.
“It’s kind of the perfect way to launch a historic season,” said Hoffman.
Then it’s right into the first concert — the metal combo of Megadeth with Lamb of God (May 18) — before Flamenco-pop influenced Spanish artist Rosalia (Sept. 23) wraps it all up at Budweiser Stage.
In between, there’s everything from two shows by guitar-slinging country artist Keith Urban (July 8-9) to rock legend Rod Stewart with 70s rockers Cheap Trick (July 26) to the ethereal pop-folk of Florence and the Machine (Sept 3).
And no, Hoffman, doesn’t think it’s too many acts for Toronto to handle.
“Honestly, the enthusiasm for live music in Canada, but specifically in Toronto, punches way above its weight,” he said. “The pent-up demand for it is huge. So we’re not sensing (overbooking) at all.”
This summer will also see the return of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival (June 24 to July 3), Field Trip (July 9, Fort York & Garrison Common headlined by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats), Veld Music Festival (July 29-31 at Downsview), and Boots and Hearts (Aug. 4-7, at Burl’s Creek, about 90 minutes from Toronto), with Shania Twain, Florida Georgia Line, Sam Hunt and Walker Hayes headlining.
“I think live music is going to play a major part in helping people recover from the last few years,” Broken Social Scene member Kevin Drew, co-founder of Field Trip, said in a statement.
“There’s nothing more incredible than being in a crowd, feeling the pumping thunder of a band, and you all share this common feeling.”
There’s also new Live Nation-promoted festivals like Born and Raised (June 30-July 3, with Alexisonfire, City and Colour, Sam Roberts Band and Billy Talent in Montebello Park in St. Catharines, Ont., and the Rolling Loud rap festival (with Dave, Future and WizKid headlining Sept. 9-11 at Ontario Place’s RBC Echo Beach Stage and the parking lot).
“It originated in Miami,” said Hoffman of Rolling Loud. “It’s five or six years old and has expanded to some other markets like Los Angeles and New York and then also overseas into Portugal. We’ve been working on it for awhile to bring it here to unbelievable fanfare.”
But what about Drake’s OVO Fest, which usually takes over Budweiser Stage during the August long weekend?
“I don’t have anything to offer you on OVO right now,” said Hoffman. “It’s definitely been a tentpole of our summer.”
One major cancellation bummer — completely understandable — is the Foo Fighters’ July 22 stop at Rogers Centre after the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins earlier this year.
Still, there will be many Rogers Centre stadium stops by the likes of The Weeknd with Doja Cat (July 8); Lady Gaga (Aug. 6); Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Poison, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (Aug. 8); Red Hot Chili Peppers, with Strokes and Thundercat (Aug. 21); Imagine Dragons (Aug. 22); and Elton John (Sept. 7-8).
“It speaks to (the concert demand in) Toronto,” said Hoffman. “Yeah, we’re going to have a heavy year at the Rogers Centre. It’s kind of unbelievable.”
Hoffman says among the fastest selling Budweiser Stage shows this summer have been The Chicks, The Lumineers, Zac Brown Band, Alanis Morissette and Garbage, New Order and Pet Shop Boys and Rex Orange County.
“New stuff, old stuff, right?” said Hoffman. “We continue to try to diversify the content over the summer. It’s a huge priority.”
Also, Harry Styles just announced two shows at Scotiabank Arena (Aug. 15-16) and it doesn’t getting any hotter than the one-time member of One Direction.
Here are some other highlights of what Toronto music fans can expect this summer:
Sarah Harmer, May 20, Massey Hall
Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, May 27-28, Casino Rama
Zac Brown Band, June 3-4, Budweiser Stage
Halsey, June 5, Budweiser Stage, Live Nation
The Chicks with Patty Griffin, June 24-25, Budweiser Stage
Psychedelic Furs, July 8, History
The Weeknd with Doja Cat, July 8, Rogers Centre
Keith Urban, July 8-9, Budweiser Stage
Rage Against The Machine with Run The Jewels, July 21 and 23, Scotiabank Arena
Santana with Earth Wind and Fire, Aug. 7, Budweiser Stage
Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe, Aug. 8, Massey Hall
Peter Hook & The Light, Aug. 11-12, Danforth Music Hall
Harry Styles, Aug. 15-16, Scotiabank Arena
Jack White, Aug. 19, Budweiser Stage
Red Hot Chili Peppers, with Strokes and Thundercat, Aug. 21, Rogers Centre
Florence And The Machine, Sept. 3, Budweiser Stage
The Black Keys with Band of Horses, Sept. 6, Budweiser Stage
Roxy Music, Sept. 7, Scotiabank Arena
Elton John, Sept. 7-8, Rogers Centre
Pearl Jam, Sept. 8, Scotiabank Arena
Crowded House, Sept. 14, Budweiser Stage
Lil Nas X, Sept. 15-16, History
New Order & Pet Shop Boys, Sept. 17, Budweiser Stage
The Killers w/ Johnny Marr, Sept. 23, Scotiabank Arena
Primus, May 13-14, Massey Hall (Playing Rush’s A Farewell To Kings)
Knotfest Roadshow with Slipknot, May 30, Budweiser Stage
The Black Crowes with The Trews, July 6, Budweiser Stage
Justin Bieber, June 7-8, Scotiabank Arena
The Lumineers, June 11-12, Budweiser Stage
Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town, June 22, Budweiser Stage
The Arkells, The Rally, June 25, Tim Horton’s Field, Hamilton
Rex Orange County, June 26, Budweiser Stage, Live Nation
Eric Church, July 2, Scotiabank Arena
David Gray, July 15, Budweiser Stage, Live Nation
Alanis Morissette wjth Garbage, July 17, Budweiser Stage
Shawn Mendes, July 31 AND Aug. 2, Scotiabank Arena
Wu-Tang Clan & Nas, Sept. 4, Budweiser Stage
My Chemical Romance Reunion Tour, Sept. 4-5, Scotiabank Arena
Mavis Staples, May 28, Massey Hall
Kraftwerk, June 6, Massey Hall
Smokey Robinson, June 28, Meridian Hall (TD Toronto Jazz Festival)
Roger Waters, July 8-9, Scotiabank Arena
Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings, July 19, Budweiser Stage
Rod Stewart with Cheap Trick, July 26, Budweiser Stage
Tom Jones, Sept. 19, Massey Hall
Rufus Wainwright, May 16, Massey Hall
Tori Amos, May 19, Meridian Hall
Corrine Bailey Rae, June 29, Danforth Music Hall
Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen, Julien Baker, Aug. 12-13, Massey Hall
Alicia Keys, Aug. 14, 2022, Budweiser Stage
Emmylou Harris and The Jayhawks, Aug. 15, Massey Hall
Leon Bridges, Aug. 20, Scotiabank Arena
Future Islands, May 25, History
Peaches, May 26, Rebel
Aurora, May 29, History
Sofi Tukker, June 1, History
Phoebe Bridgers, June 7, RBC Echo Beach
Sigur Ros, June 11, Meridian Hall
Sam Fender, July 30, Danforth Music Hall
The Beaches, Aug. 5-6, History
Fleet Foxes, Aug. 6, Massey Hall
Orville Peck, Aug. 9-10, Massey Hall
Franz Ferdinand, Aug. 17, History
Wilco and Bahamas with Kathleen Edwards, Aug. 18, Budweiser Stage
OLDIES (BUT GOODIES)
Journey with Ann Wilson, May 13, Scotiabank Arena
Midnight Oil, June 13, Massey Hall
Doobie Brothers (reunite with Michael McDonald), June 29, Budweiser Stage ABC with Midge Ure, July 4-5, El Mocambo
Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo, July 16, Fallsview Casino
The Cult, July 30, Casino Rama
Duran Duran, Aug. 22, Budweiser Stage
Bauhaus, Sept. 6, History
BOYS TO MEN
New Kids On The Block with Salt N Pepa, Rick Astley & EnVogue, June 22 Scotiabank Arena
Backstreet Boys, July 1-2, Budweiser Stage
Big Time Rush, July 4, Budweiser Stage
Hanson, Aug. 3, Danforth Music Hall
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