Parkdale Youth Festival Masaryk-Cowan Community Centre, Toronto ON August 23

Parkdale Youth Festival Masaryk-Cowan Community Centre, Toronto ON August 23
The evening portion of the Parkdale Youth Festival held inside the Masaryk-Cowan Community Centre was described as an "urban dance party,” and so there was no one better to start things off proper than SONIKS Band, who got the rather sparse crowd of kids, parents and interested industry folk tapping their toes, bobbing their heads, and in some cases even up and dancing — all despite an hour and a half late start to the show. Clocking in at just 20 minutes in length, which was the longest performance of the night, their set of rousing soca covers was still much too short.

While the stage of the gymnasium was cleared of their gear for the next acts, Stolen From Africa's Unknown Misery and Logical Ethiks dropped their set of political a cappellas and rap songs from under the basket and in front of the stage. It was a big switch from fun to fury, but they did offer a positive message of unity to the youth. Following SFA's intimate floor show, hot R&B up-and-comer Trish displayed some high energy flare with the electro crunk of her first and final songs, which both included some great dance routines choreographed alongside two accompanying male dancers, but her two songs in between smacked of the generic music of any number of R&B clones.

Then once again it was back to underground hip-hop, and would remain that way for the rest of the night, when 905th Brigade's Mums the Disciple took to the stage and struggled through a set accompanied by a skipping CD. He handled it as best he could, opting to go a cappella by the end. Next up was Admiral Crumple, who stood up for the ugly and the crusty as he stalked the stage with his hardcore, horrorcore raps over dark, catchy beats, ending his set on a high note alongside Hermes the Messenger for their collaboration song "The War Came Home.”

ReLZ then cranked it up another notch with his polished set of punch line raps and humorous songs that worked in the crowd and played up the concepts with between song banter giving the highlight of the hip-hop performances. Royce Birth, sans band, followed with a slightly more sedate performance that began on the stage and ended more appropriately on the floor in front of the audience, creating the intimate experience his music deserves.

Angerville kept their set on the floor, with Conscious Thought getting some laughs jumping up and hanging off the gymnasium's basket upon the duo's entrance, following up with their gritty, soul-inflected music. The night ended (on time even!) with a spontaneous final freestyle cypher featuring a member of the audience beat boxing and the remaining emcees (Angerville's Conscious Thought and Fortunato, Royce Birth, ReLZ) and the host dropping 16 bars each around and around. It was a great way to finish off a night of wicked music. It's just too bad more people weren't there to see it.