The Most unhelpful guide to deciding between Turf or Riot Fest

Pumpkin lattes, sweater weather and turning leaves…can all suck it because festival season isn’t over yet. This weekend some big names like Alexisonfire and Edward Sharpe are piling into Toronto as two festivals go head to head. This Year’s TURF: Toronto Urban Roots Festival has bumped around its yearly arrival. Normally happening in the summer, the growing festival has decided to challenge the well-established Riot Fest. Normally what scene you’re into decides what festival you’re drawn to, RIOT Fest is for the hardcore crowd, while TURF takes over Fort York with bunching of some great indie rock bands. But this year both festivals have such stellar line-ups you may ware out your TTC pass and your wallet.

Turf 2014 Photo from

Riot fest is going hard. With four stages ready to welcome concertgoers, the two-day music festival is bringing out some well-seasoned acts. Weezer, Cancer Bats and Alexisonfire are just a few of the big names playing shows, and that’s just the Saturday. Sunday will bring out the rowdie ones for sure. Taking the stage early in the day the always graceful men known as Fidlar will be playing at the Roots stage, where The Joy Formidable and The Airborne Toxic Event will also be playing. Closing down the night is Weezer with songs from their Blue album. Easy choice, right? Riot Fest it is.

Well, wait a second because Shakey Graves is showing up and he’s got Edward Sharpe and Wilco with him. Over at TURF, they may be short a stage but they’ve got an extra day of fun. Beginning on Friday, Grand Analog will begin the big-name fun early on, followed by Shakey Graves the sets are looking pretty tight.

Shakey Graves
Shakey Graves

The Avett Brothers and Of Monster and Men will close down the festival, but not the night. If you’re not done for the night Lee’s Palace and The Horseshoe have you covered. Hosting after parties each night after the festival closes down, you can get more than your fill of music in.

And there is still two more days. Over at the West Stage on Saturday Passenger, followed by Cake will continue the fun, while Wilco and Edward Sharpe prepare to play. Sunday will shut the festival down with Neko Case, Ron Sexsmith and the legendary Pixies.

Alright, let’s start weighing the perks of each.

Like I said, the fun doesn’t stop after the encore and it also starts before Friday. Beginning on Wednesday, artists from TURF will be taking over The Horseshoe and Lee’s Palace as part of the Club Concert Series featuring Royal Canoe, Desaparecidos, Julian Taylor Band and Will Butler.

The shows will go each night until the 21st.  and feature various artists from the festival, TURF gives you a chance to see all the shows you want without having to pick between sets.

With festivals in Chicago and Denver each year, there are a series of club shows surrounding the event, though Riot Fest doesn’t bring the club shows to Toronto. But with shorter set times and more acts, there is a little bit of a larger variety to choose from.

The Randos

Another thing about the festivals are the hidden gems. Riot Fest will be housing some random acts that seem a little out of place among the giant devil head they’ve set up at the entrance gates. Rapper, Tyler the Creator and Wu-Tang Clan are performing Sunday as well as, Bleachers which make the event all the more intriguing. Everyone playing TURF you’d expect to be there and the similar vibe is appealing all on it’s own making deciding an almost impossible decision.

So yeah, maybe eenie meenie miney mo may be more helpful than me?

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