Published May 07, 2016In the five years it's been luring locals across Toronto's Don River for music, food and installation art in the city's east end, Katie Jensen, Tad Michalak and Neil Rankin's Feast in the East concert series has built itself into a reliable if transient beacon of Toronto's arts communities.
Celebrating its wooden anniversary with the help of more than 120 contributors, it's in the middle of marking the occasion with a special two-night Feast at Leslieville fitness studio Anchored Social Club, also a launch party for an illustrated cookbook built on 40 original recipes, images, and a double cassette compilation of past and present series performers.
With heaping plates of HSY/Yamantaka // Sonic Titan bassist Brandon Lim's Korean Japchae dinner still circulating around the room, Carl Didur opened the first night's ceremonies without fanfare. Casually seating himself in front of his gear — this time a Suzuki keyboard, Univox drum machine, and a reel-to-reel unit with a long tape hooked around a paper towel holder set a couple feet off — Didur leaned in and carefully built loops up into one long, blossoming suite that was adventurous in its minimalism. Audience chatter persisted for the first bit, but three minutes in, his winding, ascending passages permeated with the room's thick fog and everyone was craning their necks to get a better sense of what was happening at their feet.
Mimico flipped the switch on Didur's sunny opening, greeting the audience with big, dark, foreboding psychedelia. They worked their way into groovier material soon enough, but the rhythm derailed entirely when the power cut out in in the middle of Incantations opener "Big Sister."
The same problem threatened to colour New Fries's set when the power dropped in the middle of their instrumental slow build opener, but their dynamic is such that missteps and chaos are par for the course and often encouraged, so singer/guitarist Anni Spadafora just used the moment to channel Marissa Tomei's character in My Cousin Vinny, garbling a hysterical improvised take on the film's infamous deer hunting argument while Jenny Gitman pounded out a beat. No longer pushing 2014's Fresh Face Forward, with the issue resolved, they dove into a set packed with new material.
With all technical difficulties in the rear, Baltimore headliners Horse Lords topped off the night with an ecstatic half-hour of avant freak rock built on just intonation guitars, West African rhythms, and incendiary sax explosions. They closed their set with a seamless, 15-minute suite that had Andrew Bernstein switching back and forth between hypnotic saxophone entries and additional percussion duties, and then, after spending the evening DJ-ing between sets, Jesse Frank Matthews kept the energy going with a JFM set, sending the crowd spinning out into the night on a jagged underground pulse.