Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Spoonsfest 08

One of the many Spoonsfest Performers, rocking out like a bitch.

The first week in July is the biggest date in the Toronto musical calendar for many people. Music lovers from all over the world converge in the city, forcing the closure of roads, shops and some brothels. And the reason for this mass migration? Spoonsfest.

Now in its seventeenth year, Spoonsfest brings the best in the world’s spoons players to Toronto, where they wow the crowds with their cutlery-assisted rhythms. All of your favourite spoons players were here this year: ‘Bubonic’ Pete, The Relevant Sisters, Simon ‘S.Poon’ Poon, ‘Old’ Bob ‘Cataracty’ Smith and, of course, the world Spoon-playing champion, Jeremiah ‘Eager’ Beaver. Plus, as well as more than one hundred acts playing across seven venues, city-wide, there were workshops, stalls and spoons-related media to enjoy as well. Spoonsfest 2008 really was the biggest Spoons-specific music festival since the much-missed Spoonapolooza festival in California.

This year, the organisers of Spoonsfest did their best to put the unpleasant memories of last year behind them. Many precautions were made to prevent the running battles between the rival factions of the spoon-playing world that plagued the 2007 festival, including banning members of the ultra-hardcore PunkSpoon Organisation. Also, there was more segregation between wooden and metal spoon acts, forcing extreme fans of each spoon-playing method to spend more time apart. Thankfully these precautions seemed to work, and I witnessed no violent spoon attacks.

Because of the sheer size of Spoonsfest, It was impossible to catch all the acts, but The Imaginary Review strived to see as much musical ladle action as possible. My favourite act was up and coming spoon heart-throbs, Born with a Silver, who attracted the biggest crowds of screaming teenagers (and also, therefore, dodgy old men in long overcoats) to the Main Stage. The three spoon prodigy siblings gave a fantastic display of percussive cutlery prowess, even throwing in some covers to their own tunes. Most impressive was their rocking spoony version of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun. Superb.

Christian spoon-playing band Ladling His Love (in the Degrassi Junior High Tent) were terrible. I’m sorry, but it’s very difficult to render songs of praise in spoon form, no matter how hard you try, and LHL just weren’t up to the task. It was a relief to the whole crowd when their lead spooner was decapitated by a stray pigeon.

As I wandered around the festival, it really did occur to me that Spoonsfest has become far too commercialised, with every major corporation from Williams-Sonoma to the Scientologists trying to jump on the spoon bandwagon with a tent or promotional trailer. Many of the older spoons fans that I talked to were quite angry that the festival they’ve patronised since 1991 has abandoned them in search of new, younger fans. Mary, a dowdy spinster from Hamilton, ON, told me that in her opinion, half of the acts here this year weren’t even true spoon players!

While I’m not sure I agree with Dowdy old Mary, there were far too many tenuous spoon-related diversions at the festival this year. Experimental artist Ryota Ando had a performance on the main stage, in which he gently spooned members of the audience for half an hour. While technically ‘spooning’, this was hardly appropriate for a music festival.

But then, how can I complain when headliner Spoonman Dave was here, playing all of his fantastic hits in a three-hour set on the Main Stage? Guitarist Jimmy Page even joined him on stage for a few songs; such was the pull of this legend of spoons. And I doubt anyone who saw German Spoon Techno Pioneers Kraftspön left the Bryan’s Brilliant Borscht Tent disappointed. Their new, self-created electronic spoon instruments were as nice-sounding as they were intriguing.

Of course, with a festival of this standing and magnitude, not everyone will be pleased, but I doubt anyone but the most jaded spoon classicist would have been unhappy with this year’s festival. All in all, I had a great time at Spoonsfest 08, and can’t wait for next year!

Spoons are dangerous weapons. Please do not try to play them without the supervision of a qualified instructor or YOU WILL DIE.


Falwless said...

My god, that Ryota Ando shit was some serious AWK-ward. You're right - highly inappropriate.

Splotchy said...

Were slotted spoons in evidence?

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

F: True. I think at one point he got a stiffy and it poked a fireman in the back.

Splo: If slotted spoons are your thing, check out the more avant garde Fringe Spoonsfest 08. As well as slotted spoons, there will be sporks and Welsh Love Spoons.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the attendees of Spoonfest and initially enjoyed the Spoonery tent, where master craftsmen taught me how to whittle my own wooden spoon replete with a handle shaped in the likeness of Elvis. The experience was marred however by the pro-wooden spoon propaganda magazine "The Wood of God" they were handing out at the end of the seminar. I strongly believe it was inappropriate that organizers had not done more to quash the metal/wood divisiveness that so permeates the spoon scene.

Jillian said...

IR--You are hilarious as usual. Best part: "It was a relief to the whole crowd when their lead spooner was decapitated by a stray pigeon."

Alyson--That "Wood of God" stuff is a riot : )

Herbal Amanda said...

Man I missed spoonfest again? I have got to get my shit together!

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Alyson: You're certainly right, though the metalheads were equally guilty of poor behaviour, what with their public wooden spoon burning. And Uri Geller did nothing to help the proceedings with his blatantly partisan spoon bending tricks.

Jillian: Many thanks! As many as eight, or even nine!

Amanda: Tickets for Spoonsfest 2009 go on sale in February. I suggest you make a note in a calendar!

Dr Zibbs said...

If I had the energy and friends, I'd get some egg beaters and start beating them. Then me and my friends would walk toward those spooning nerds beatin' and chantin', "WE WON'T STOP". That would be the end of that stupid event.

katrocket said...

I generally prefer forking, but I think I could get behind those Kraftspön düdes.

Mo said...

You guys have Spoonsfest, too? Jesus. Is there any area in which you're not completely kicking America's ass?

You know what--don't even answer that.