2011.06.24 - Aretha Franklin @ Metro Square


Jun 25 2011, 5h32

Fri 24 Jun – Aretha Franklin

Leave it to a bank to kick off a music festival with a contemptuous dick in the ass of 90% of the people in the audience. On the off chance that the organizers weren't being condescending fuckers, though, some advice for the future: if you want to put on a show for a couple of hundred people in a tent, do that, and do it anywhere you damn well please; if, on the other hand, you'd rather stack opening night with a show that will draw 10,000+ people, then perhaps you should do it somewhere where huge tents and trees won't keep most of the audience from seeing a blessed thing. (Hint: Metro Square, rammed full of tents, is not that place.)

Where to start with the list of logistical boners on display tonight? Advertising a free show at 8:30 on a Friday night sounds pretty good... until you get there and find out that you're expected to watch on it a big TV. And that there are a million tents and barriers set up between the street and said TV, which pretty much railroads anyone who wants to see anything through one of two very narrow corridors up to the front. And that, because of the tents, you didn't see the thousands of people who were already there, and who are now pissed that more and more people are trying to crowd into an area that's already full. And that, before the show starts, you'll get to listen to autofellatory speeches from TD Bank's director of marketing and the CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (who, to his credit, ditched his cue cards when he was roundly booed as he took the stage). And then be thrilled as Sponsor #3 gives away a watch to some random person in the tent. And then clap and cheer as CityTV's rent-a-dress can't even be bothered to know the name of the unexpected (and entirely unnecessary) opening act... though, in her defence, said act only hucked up an hour of empty, ossified "blues". (Note to band: When you play "What's Going On" without actually trying to make a point, you're letting us all know that you're just on stage to warble, pose and trade tired licks. Also, fuck off.) Oh, and then there was an intermission. Did we mention that all of the washrooms in the area were closed?

By 9:45, a full third of the crowd was wandering around with a look of "I can't see a thing, and when is this concert actually going to start?" on their faces. Shortly after 10:00, the band and back-up singers were on the stage, but if you hadn't been sardined up front for about two hours, you pretty much got to hear the drums, some muddy bass, and indistinct vocals. Had the sound guy drunk himself to death in despair as the Blues Angels decided that they needed to do a plodding encore? Aretha Franklin came out to much hooting and stamping of feet, but after a couple of songs and several vantage points, two things were clear: first, that the sound blew just about everywhere; and second, that, no matter how professional a singer she might be, Franklin is well past her prime now. I'll likely be on eBay tomorrow, cherry-picking her years on Atlantic, but by 10:20, I was already heading for the train station... a disappointing end to a mostly frustrating day.


  • mistyvenus

    Just saw Aretha Franklin The Queen of Soul! At Metro Square! We got there at 7:45 and there were already tons of people present. When I heard there was going to be a free concert I pictured something like what Montreal does. Montreal has a large stage, no barriers and there are two very large monitors. Everyone can see the stage. Anyway, Aretha’s show started at around 8:30. Aretha and her band came on at around 10:15. Yes, my feet were hurting my knees ached and Yes, I must agree, just being able to glimpse her was very sad almost painful. However, to hear her sing...Priceless! :)

    Jun 25 2011, 17h03
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