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Pumpkins smashed the hell out of Virgin Fest with classics

Allen Gaynor | Interrobang | Lifestyles | September 17th, 2007

Toronto Island was invaded by thousands on September 8 and 9, as for the second year in a row it played host to the Virgin Festival.

No, this wasn't a festival where a group of yet to be deflowered women were tossed into a volcano to appease the gods, although that is what I was led to believe when I purchased my ticket. Instead this was a two-day festival featuring some of the biggest names in music, mixed with some up-and-coming acts from around the world.

I attended the second day of the show, and except for a few complaints (which I will get to later), it was a fantastic day of entertainment.

The newly reunited (sort of) Smashing Pumpkins headlined the show, and it was clear that although this was a festival, most people were there to see the Pumpkins. Their 90-minute set featured plenty of material from their newly released album “Zeitgeist,” the standout tune amongst them being “Tarantula.” However it was when they played their classic material that they truly shined. The highlights of their performance were “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” and “Tonight, Tonight.” They closed out the night with “Today,” which could still be heard by the thousands who left early to catch a ferry ride back to the city.

The Killers performed an hour-long show right before the Pumpkins. While the band's front man Brandon Flowers was surely an energetic performer, the whole set seemed merely adequate to me, with the exception of their two most well hits “Somebody Told Me” and “All These Things That I Have Done,” which shone above all else.

Along with big name groups like the Pumpkins, Killers and Metric, a number of lesser known acts shined as well.

Newmarket, Ontario's own Tokyo Police Club took the main stage earlier in the day. The band, which formed in 2005, has made many notable appearances as of late, including a shot at Lollapalooza, and an appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman.” Although the crowd was sparse at that point, those that were there were treated to a show that was second only to the Pumpkins.

The Constantines of Guelph, Ontario delivered a high-energy albeit short performance on a secondary stage. The band, which at one point called London home, attracted a relatively small, but appreciative crowd in between sets on the main stage.

If you plan on attending next year's festival, here are a few suggestions:

- Bring your own boat. The process of boarding the ferry is a very tedious one, and if you happen to be claustrophobic, it could be a nightmare. I felt very much like I was in a herd of slow moving cattle. I was half expecting to be milked upon arrival.

- Bring your own ketchup. When a man buys himself a hotdog and some fries, he expects to be able to find some ketchup to put on them. Well that man (which in this case is me) would be horribly disappointed at the Virgin Festival. By 6:30 p.m., not a drop of it could be found. Apparently billionaire Virgin head Richard Branson was trying to save a few bucks. I demand an apology, and assurances that this won't happen again next year. If not, I will be forced to take my cause to the Internet — I've checked, and is available.

- Be tall. It can be tough to see at an event like this. I'm sure there were people there who didn't catch a glimpse of the performers the entire day. It certainly doesn't help when a six-foot-five person is raising their digital camera high above them, creating a ten-foot wall to see above. It makes you appreciate a venue like the JLC where there isn't a bad seat in the house.

Despite all that, if there is a third annual Virgin Festival, I recommend you buy tickets. You'll get a good bang for your entertainment buck.
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