Toronto Underground Cinema had an “Out of the Box” way to spend your weekend

For those of us who didn’t have the time, or funds to go to Osheaga (or whatever other reason you were still in Toronto), Out of the Box Music & Arts Festival presented us with a very interesting way of enjoying our weekend.

Thanks to our friends over at Sticky Magazine I was given a few passes to the show to check out the festivities. In my rush of excitement I forgot them at home and Randal was VERY accommodating and let me attend the show as press.

Having missed the first night of the festival I wasn’t too sure what was in store but as I arrived on Saturday evening I was handed a pair of 3D glasses and told to make my way down the stairs. Thankfully there was a bar set up at concession where I got popcorn and whiskey before cozying up in the front row of the plush movie theatre seats. It was interesting to see the opposite of when you go to a movie, everyone wants to sit in the front row instead of the back.

First up was synth oriented indie-pop act Foxes in Fiction, and behind Warren (the sole member of the group) were 3D images such as dinosaurs running and flowers blooming. His music was very soothing and unlike anything I have heard in a while. He self describes himself as healing pop on his Facebook page and I don’t think I could put it better.

After his set finished, I scrapped the idea of wearing the 3D glasses so that I could focus more on the band and less on my headache from trying to do it without my normal seeing glasses. This may have been a mistake as behind indie rockers Human Bodies there was an appropriate display of Night of the Living Dead 3D. They were really fun to watch and had members switching instruments in between songs and all wore brightly coloured Tshirts to stand out.

Trap Tiger were the secret guest for the night and I don’t think they were that secret as there was a mess of fans who knew all the words right up at the stage dancing, and by this point of the evening a fair bit of the crowd had given up on sitting in the seats and made their way to the front.

The highlight for my evening was Papermaps, I had only heard of them and never had a chance to catch them perform. It was nothing short of mind-blowing, their harmonies were absolutely stunning and I felt myself captivated by every moment. Dean (vox/lead guitar) informed us that if we wanted to help them make their new music video to submit a 20-30 second clip of ourselves holding up a cue card with a message to our 16 year old selves. After they finished their set they were greeted by a chant of “10 more songs”, not having time for 10 more, Dean obliged and played one more song. Just Dean and his guitar.

What a voice. I sat quietly in awe and it seemed everyone else was taken aback by his raw talent. Then keyboardist Wendy joined him onstage to provide soft backing vocals, and it wasn’t too long before the remaining two members rushed up and the song picked up for a huge climax. It made the entire festival worth going to. Even though everyone was amazing, it was an experience I will definitely take with me and remember.

On Day 2, I decided to show up a bit earlier because there was news of toronto based ska band The Cheap Suits reuniting to play this show. Having not played together for almost 3 years this was a shock to most. The crowd that decided to make it early, including a very young boy who seemed to be really into it, were right up front skanking and punching the air. Chris (lead vox), announced before their last song that they had so much fun playing that The Cheap Suits will be coming out of retirement and looking for shows!

I left after their set during the break and came back in time to catch a whole new spin on the event. It was no longer the Three Dimensions of Rock and Roll, but SPACE PROM.

What is Space Prom you might ask? Just like your regular prom…but better. David Kleiser was curating this event and started it off with his act Blood Rexdale and the Walls are Blonde which was entirely  made up on the spot. Very unique way to start off.

Following that was the main reason I was there, T0panga . Named after a character in 90s sitcom Boy Meets World, Topanga is a 4 piece pop punk group that’s only a few months old and moving headstrong in the right direction. Only having heard them a few times I found their lyrics to “Lionheart” and “Back Against the Wall” so catch that I was singing/screaming along and dancing along. Everyone looked to be having a great time, and we all enjoyed the shortly lived space outfits that the boys wore. Steve (lead guitar), played along to the theme well in his tin foil glasses and kept them on for the majority of the set.

The entire evening had the film Barbarella playing behind them on the big screen and the event as a whole left me wanting to come back for more. Hopefully next year more people will hear about the Out of the Box Festival if it is to come back again. I would surely attend.

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