Virgin Festival comes “from England with love.” North by Northeast capitalizes on being the Canadian equivalent to Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest. And the Toronto Jazz Festival brings together the best in, well, jazz. But Eric Warner’s Over The Top Festival, now in its seventh year, aims to bring a different theme to Toronto in festival form — themelessness.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” boasts Warner, 24. He is the mastermind behind the five-day, all-ages festival that begins today in various venues across the city. “I want to keep it open ended. I’m not an indie rock festival; I’m not a hip-hop festival. I want to bring a lot to the table and allow people to check something out they might find interesting,” he says.
Of Montreal front man Kevin Barnes will perform at the Over The Top Festival.
This pursuit shouldn’t be a challenge for festivalgoers. This year’s musical lineup ranges from the eclectically progressive Toronto quintet dd/mm/yyyy to a rare solo performance by Of Montreal lead singer Kevin Barnes.
Warner was unsurprisingly able to nab the popular front man, having presented each Of Montreal show in Toronto since 1999. “With my shows outside of the festival, I’ve been able to continue a working relationship,” he says.
Another partnership he thinks will enhance the festival is the introduction of friend and film buff Jeff Wright as the event’s film curator. Among the items Wright has helped bring to the festival is a special appearance by New York artist Crispin Glover. He will present his new film, It is Fine. Everything is Fine!, and perform his one-man show.
A host of premieres will also comprise the slate of screenings including the international premiere of I Think We’re Alone Now. The documentary follows a lonely, Asperger’s-ridden aging man and a hermaphrodite, both stalkers, obsessed with ‘80s pop icon Tiffany. “It’s really kind of unnerving, but in a good way,” says Warner.
The variety presented has clearly increased interest in the festival, as attendance has risen from 500 people to near 3,500 since its inception. “It’s been really interesting to see it grow and follow a natural, organic path,” says Warner. But despite rising popularity, he wants to maintain the largely single-handed effort a gradual process. “It would be great if it were a 20,000-person event but I don’t really want to go that route. I want to keep going at the pace I am so I can keep learning from everything and enjoying myself.”