Björk / Bonnie "Prince" Billy / Kid Koala Olympic Island, Toronto ON - September 3, 2003

Pyrotechnics are no longer the exclusive purview of ‘80s hair metal — Björk did indeed start the fire with a celebration of music and bombast as art. As the business day wound down a ferry ride away, Kid Koala shared some three-deck turntable trickery, rockin' crowd-pleasing routines both classic and new. The blissed-out (it's the legal pot, man) crowed almost slipped into unconsciousness during a Bonnie "Prince" Billy set that was relatively upbeat and catchy, at least for Will Oldham. Cutting a dapper bohemian figure in all white, Oldham's acoustic guitar was accompanied by a backing singer and accordionist. Björk finagled a first-time-ever Toronto Islands gig simply to showcase her latest ambitions, and she didn't disappoint with an over-the-top yet tasteful set of high powered career-spanning treats. Featuring almost exactly the same band as the last Vespertine tour — programming duo Matmos, the Icelandic String Octet, avant-harpist Zeena Parkins — when Homogenic's "Joga" climaxed in an explosion of fireworks both onstage and out over the lake, Björk made it clear this was very different from the burbling beats and gentle vibe of her last stop. In typical Björk fashion, the pyrotechnics, video displays and other visual distractions were subtly glam, as if Las Vegas had a tasteful performance art space. Not bound to promoting a new record — but nevertheless showcasing a number of new, beats'n'organics compositions — the set sampled liberally from Homogenic and Post, even offering up a couple of Selmasongs. Like children who know that acting up will mean loss of privileges, the throngs waited quietly and patiently for post-show ferries back to the mainland, only hoping that the Island residents invite us back for another summer bash.