Wavelength 2015: Our Year in Review

As we here at Wavelength look back on 2015, it’s no exaggeration to say we had a big year. Your friendly neighbourhood concert series turned 15, opened (and closed) a venue, and launched a new festival, the biggest event in our history. And we’re about to say farewell to 2015 with a big New Year’s party — in a small capacity venue — for which we highly recommend you get tickets!

But before we break out the Prosecco, Toronto, let’s put the last 12 months in the rear-view, kick back and reminisce over the highlights. We also recommend you put on our 2015 Year in Review Soundcloud playlist – featuring (almost) every band that played our series in 2015 – while you scroll through this photo essay…


01 WL Pop Up Poster Show SK

From January 22nd to February 15th of this year that’s about to expire, we took overHuntclub Studio, at 709 College Street in Little Italy, to create the Wavelength Pop-Up Gallery. Our home away from home was home to a 15th anniversary retrospective poster and photo show, as well as some original art installations — and an art gumball machine. The space also hosted events including concerts, talks, workshops, and an indie record fair.

02 Petra Glynt SK

Petra Glynt (above) and Zoo Owl steamed up the windows at the Pop-Up opening party on a cold January night.

03 Pop Up Audience SK

With a capacity of just 80 people, it could get pretty packed.

04 Blevin Blectum SK_0

But a lucky few got to see some out-of-town guests including Providence, RI experimental electronic artist Blevin Blectum.

05 SlowPitch Libydo SK

A lot of crazy shit happened. Like the time dancer Libydo joined turntablist SlowPitch. We were sad to say goodbye to our home away from home…


06 WL15 Speedy Ortiz photo by Sam Kadosh

But all that action at the Pop-Up was just leading up to WL15 (AKA Wavelength Music Festival 15), our big 15th anniversary weekend, Feb. 12-15th. Things got rolling with a pre-party presented by Red Bull Sound Select, with jagged-guitar-wielding guests from Northampton, MA, Speedy Ortiz.

07 WL15 More or Les photo by Tiana Feng

Friday night at Sneaky Dee’s saw an journey through Wavelength’s past with some inspired all-Toronto cover sets, including hip-hop emcee More or Les tackling Kardinal Offishall, amongst others.

08 WL15 Delta Will photo by Sam Kadosh

Delta Will did immaculate justice to the songs of Caribou.

09 WL15 controller.controller photo by Tiana Feng

And mid-2000s dance-punks controller.controller wound up the night with a much-awaited reunion set.

10 WL15 Lowell photo by Tiana FengElectro-popster Lowell brought us into the present on Saturday — a real Valentine’s love-in at the Polish Combatants Hall on the coldest night of the year.

11 WL15 Look Vibrant photo by Tiana Feng

And Montreal’s rather enthusiastic indie-pop crew Look Vibrant led us into the Future — and late into the night — as WL15 wrapped up on Sunday night at the Garrison.


12 Ratio Slime JD

March was a quiet month of decompression at WL HQ, with our only show of the month taking place at DIY art space Ratio. Slime, AKA Germaphobes’ Neil Rankin, covered himself with lube, improvised on sax, and twerked. You had to be there.


13 Hauschka by Jill Grant

On April 11th, we were treated to a visit by our favourite German, Düsseldorf’s Volker Bertelmann, AKA prepared piano wizard Hauschka.


14 Monarch Schonsee ES

A busy month of shows in May included a night of dark electronics on the refurbished main floor of the Monarch Tavern, including Crosss side project Schønsee.

15 Most People Puppet ES

And who could forget Most People’s EP release for Violet Spaces at Clay & Paper Theatre, in which our huggable electro-pop heroes were joined on stage by a giant puppet from outer space. You could practically hear everyone in the crowd’s jaw drop as this creature first arose from the depths, looking something like a cross between a Jawa and a Balrog — but with better dance moves.


16 Fresh Snow 666 ES

Halloween came early this year, as Wavelength celebrated our “Rock Satan” birthday with WL 666 — on June 6th (6/6), no less — at the Silver Dollar, and doomy space-rockers Fresh Snow dressed as dead indie rock stars.

16.1 The ExAfter five nights “in residence” at Smiling Buddha for NXNE (in collaboration with some fine local indie labels), we decided not to take a break, but rather to treat Toronto to a show by one of the world’s tightest live bands, Amsterdam world-punk quartet The Ex, who packed Hard Luck on June 23rd.


17 RBSS Audience

The Garrison was packed with beautiful people when ex-Handsome Furs/Wolf Parade-r Dan Boecker’s new band Operators headlined our Red Bull Sound Select showcase on July 9th.


18 CWL KEATING-Stage copy

Over the weekend of August 26-28th, we transformed the grounds of Artscape Gibraltar Point on Toronto Island into a utopian community of awesomeness: the inaugural Camp Wavelength.

19 CWL KEATING-Camping

100 lucky ticket-buyers got to camp overnight on the Island — the only time all year you can do so legally — and many more came over to enjoy the bucolic late-summer weather and good vibes.


Festival-goers pitched in to make a special Camp Wavelength edition of Static Zine.

21 CWL KEATING-Puppets

Folks threw away their inhibitions and became Costume Puzzles.

22 CWL KEATING-KurtMarble

Kurt Marble doffed his shirt and kicked off Friday night with his glammy garage-pop — and later doled out sparkles.

23 CWL KHAN-DoldrumsWe’re on the Island, bitches,” said Airick Woodhead of Montreal rave-rockers Doldrums, before bringing the party.


After dark, curious festival-goers wandered down the path to beach…


Where they were treated to interactive art installations and a glorious Full Moon. (Installations by SubZeroArts and Caterwaul Theatre.)


On Saturday, Lake Ontario was the stage for performance art pieces including synchronized swimming crew In Synch.


Festival emcee Maylee Todd got people to write their dreams onto tiny scrolls, which she inserted into a condom, then into her vagina, before walking around all day and “giving birth” later that night.

28 CWL GOLDSTEIN-Doomsquad

Doomsquad entranced the Saturday evening crowd with their psychedelic electro dub.

29 CWL KEATING-PrinceRama

Brooklyn’s “Now Age” sisters Prince Rama brought the energy up even further.


Everyone got to hold a sparkler for Most People‘s epic group-hug of a late night set… before everyone retired to the beach for a late night campfire.

31 CWL FENG-PierreK

Montreal’s Pierre Kwenders got the chilled-out Sunday crowd moving with his multilingual Congolese electropop.

32 CWL KEATING-AbsolutelyFree

Absolutely Free unspooled their hypnotic Krautrock jams in the forest next to the beach.


And hometown post-rock heroes Do Make Say Think brought Camp Wavelength to a triumphant finale on Sunday night. “We’re here for that feeling in your chest, where you just feel uplifted,” said bassist Charles Spearin. They took us there for sure. (For more Camp WL words and photos, see Kate Killet’s photo essay on Indie88 and Matt Williams’ review for NOW.)


34 Nihilist Spasm Band ES

After the wonderment of Camp Wavelength, we had to come back down to reality. Well, sort of. Though our fall schedule was relatively quiet in terms of shows, September launched with our LOUDEST show of the year — London, Ontario’s septuagenarian noise music pioneers the Nihilist Spasm Band celebrated their 50th anniversary September 17th at the Garrison.

35 Jon Fine Talk ES

On September 28 at the Garrison, it was your humble narrator’s pleasure to host a book talk with Brooklyn’s Jon Fine, author of the excellent memoir Your Band Sucks: What I Saw at Indie Rock’s Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear). Seriously, look how happy I am.


36.1 Ravetapes JD

Back at the Garrison again, Wavelength took over the front room to host our first-ever Nuit Blanche show on October 3rd. Ravetapes’ “Intergalactic Interactive Dance Music Experience” took a trip down ’90s Toronto rave memory lane, even going so far to feature a museum of rave memorabilia…

36.2 Ravetapes JD

…and of course, house music all night long. There was a lineup to get in and cut a rave rug for about 11 hours straight. Rave on.


37 Esmerine

On November 13th at the Monarch, Montreal post-rock chamber ensemble Esmerinecelebrated the release of their gorgeous new album, Lost Voices, on Constellation Records.



Here we are! The month isn’t even over, how can we look back and review it? Coming up next week, we’ve got our first-ever New Year’s Eve party at a very cool new pop-up venue, the Markham House City Building Lab. We’ll be ringing in 2016 with a freaky-fun lineup including MATROX, the Holy Gasp, Delta Will, and our heroine, Maylee Todd, fresh off the release of her dance floor killer “Lonely,” easily one of the singles of the year. Come wearing your weirdest and wildest – we will have a Photo Booth set up all night.

Big thanks to everyone who made Wavelength happen in 2015: our hard-working staff, volunteers, Board members, funders, sponsors, partners, venues, co-presenters, and of course, our audiences and artists.

See you in 2016 — for our Sweet 16!

— Words by Jonny Dovercourt. Photos by Sam Kadosh, Tiana Feng, Emily Scherzinger, Melissa Goldstein, Stephanie Keating, Jill Grant, Mondo Lulu, and Mashal Khan. Year in Review design by Derek Ma. New Year’s Eve design by Mike Pereira.