associated press photos
Leave it to the British. They dominate with the best music in the world. And they’re staunch supporters of their music idols, too — confirmed by the thousands who annually flock to renowned festivals such as Glastonbury or Reading. Or even the Virgin Festival.
So when U.K. billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson helicoptered in this past June to announce that a Virgin Festival would be touching down on Toronto Islands Park this weekend, the whole two-day shebang sounded too good to be true — especially given what is defined as a musicfest in Canada. Such festivals either stick to one specific genre (i.e. folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass, hip-hop, etc.) or draw on a couple of top-rated headline acts rounded out by up-and-comers.
“You might take a big international name, say The Strokes, then add a bunch of lesser-known Canadian names,” explains Emerge Entertainment concert promoter Jacob Smid, the man largely responsible for putting together Canada’s inaugural V Fest (as the Virgin Festival is known). “That’s the kind of thing we wanted to avoid.”
One glimpse at the V Fest lineup — ranging from The Flaming Lips, The Raconteurs, Gnarls Barkley, Wolfmother, Muse, Sam Roberts Band, The Dears, K’Naan, Kid Koala, Alexisonfire, MSTRKRFT to, of course, The Strokes — and it’s safe to say Smid remains on his artist-booking game.
Nathan Rosenberg, chief marketing officer for Virgin Mobile Canada, isn’t one to downplay Virgin’s presence at the festival, but Rosenberg is as quick to note the festival is more about the music. “We have a long history of creating an event that offers diversity,” Rosenberg says, referring to the success of the past 11 U.K. V Fests. He adds that Branson himself is planning on attending the Sunday portion of the festival.
Meaning? Virgin wants to see its reputation being upheld. And if all goes well, Smid and Rosenberg both acknowledge, look for future Canadian V Fest locales such as Montreal and Vancouver in the years ahead.
• For more on V Fest, visit www.virginfestival.ca.