Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Burls Creek to Host Virgin Festival ’09

Photo Credit: Alex Ramon

The Virgin Festival MySpace page apparently let the cat out of the bag and let slip that the 2009 edition of the festival, entering its fourth year in Canada, will be taking place once again this summer. Tentatively scheduled for August 29 and 30, the big news was the information that it won't be done in Toronto as it has for its first three inceptions. Looks like Burls Creek, located midway between Barrie and Orillia will host the show. The announcement has since been taken down.

Burls is a newish venue. It's normally home to the Barrie Speedway and various outdoor trade shows and flea markets. To my knowledge it put its first big show on last summer when it hosted a mini one day show that featured Mason Jennings, Neil Halstead, Rogue Wave and Jack Johnson. Attended by 25,000, give or take, this was the tester event that will probably give rise to more like minded shows in the future. This works for me as the venue is about an eight minute drive from my house.

Though the Lineup is "coming soon," let's all have a go at speculating who might show up. Throughout its four years it's always featured a large cast of Canadian bands filled out with American and British acts. Some years feel a little bit more "God save the Queen" than "Death to taxes," but that probably has more to do with who was touring and had albums to promote than Richard Branson's influence.

If the rumoured date is true, then VFest is up tough against a few other festivals. Outside Lands is going on in San Francisco that weekend. Included in their lineup are Pearl Jam (who'll be in Toronto at the Amphitheatre the week before on the 21st), The Dave Matthews Band, Beastie Boys, Modest Mouse, M.I.A., TV on the Radio, and Jack White's new band The Dead Weather.

In the U.K., the Reading festival is also taking place from the Friday through to the Sunday. Playing that weekend are Kings of Leon, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, Glasvegas, Radiohead, Bloc Party, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Vampire Weekend. Two of the bigger brand name Canadian acts, Alexisonfire and Billy Talent are there as well, essentially taking them out of the equation.

Who else then?

I've heard rumours about Coldplay but they'll be in Germany that weekend. The Tragically Hip are free that weekend and promoting their latest record. However, the quintessential Canadian act plays a six night stand at Massey hall this month and its unsure if they would draw so early after that, although like Sam Roberts, also free that weekend, they'll probably always draw a few but they're not necessarily the big headliner I'm thinking of.

Stone Temple Pilots and Ben Harper are making the festival circuit this year, but Ben and Co. are in town this month and STP plays Casino Rama July 10th.

Wilco has a new album out this summer but they are in Ireland on the 27th and have no Toronto date as of yet for their current gigs, but it's highly unlikely.

Depeche Mode is out, Tool is a possibility, the Killers are free and play the UK version of Vfest the weekend before.

In fact if you look at the '09 lineup of VFest across the pond would it be completely unreasonable to think that some of these bands may play the following weekend? That could include Lily Allen, the Specials, and Elbow. Snow Patrol is playing but has a gig in Toronto early September so you likely won't see them cutting their draw by playing the festival. Oasis is playing too and that would make a nice story after the band's 2008 VFest set was cut short by the attack on Noel that resulted in them cancelling several tour dates in Canada, however, they play the Rock en Seine festival the same weekend as the rumoured Canadian dates.

All this subtraction paints the picture of slim pickings for VFest Canada's organizers. If the dates change, everything changes of course. The lineup, as mentioned, will be announced soon. Who will be there will be the interesting question.