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|Years active||1987 to present|
|Founded by||102.1 the Edge|
Edgefest, a yearly outdoor rock concert festival that primarily promotes Canadian rock music, began in 1987 as a thank-you gesture to the listeners of Toronto radio station 102.1 the Edge and as a birthday party to commemorate both the station's tenth birthday, and the coinciding Canada Day. Since then, it has spanned 20 years, over 300 bands, over 500,000 attendees, and 4 locations (Molson Park in Barrie, Ontario, the Ontario Place Forum, the Molson Amphitheatre, and most recently Downsview Park). It is now the longest running rock show in Canada.
Edgefest began in 1987 as a conversation between Edge staffers in the lunchroom. The station had launched ten years earlier in 1977, and in order to celebrate their tenth birthday and Canada Day, the idea was given to throw a large outdoor rock festival. Although such a festival was seen at the time (before the likes of Lollapalooza, Warped Tour and Another Roadside Attraction) to be a giant financial risk; the idea to hold a one-day festival with a bunch of non-superstar groups, was not regarded as a smart thing to do.
|“||We were a little stupid – okay, a lot stupid – and maybe just a little arrogant, so we insisted on going ahead with it.||”|
A lineup, including Blue Rodeo, The Pursuit of Happiness, Teenage Head, and the first foreign act, The Saints, was easily arranged, but finding an appropriate location deemed to be difficult. Locations such as a farmer's field in Oakville, Ontario were considered, but scrapped due to complications with staging, electricity, bathrooms and parking. Other suggestions included Mosport International Raceway and Cayuga Speedway, but as they were unavailable too, Molson Park in Barrie was finally suggested. While it was a relatively unknown location, and organizers worried that no one would want to drive from Toronto to Barrie (approximately 90 km [55 mi]), there was no other choice, and by selling tickets through Pizza Pizza locations for just $1.02 per ticket, 25,000 people arrived for the inaugural Edgefest, Wednesday, July 1, 1987.
Although the 1987 festival was supposed to be a one-off event, as the fireworks went off at the end of the show, organizers were already thinking about the next year's show. Friday, July 1, 1988, the first Edgefest sellout, brought over 32,000 people to Molson Park, paying $5 each, to hear a mostly Canadian line-up, including the first of many appearances by 54-40, as well as three foreign acts.
For 1989, Canada Day fell on a Saturday for the first time, which meant that some people would get the previous Friday off and others would get the following Monday (since when statutory holidays fall on the weekend, the day off is generally transferred to a weekday). As such, organizers once again worried that people would not want to come to the show; however, they were once again mistaken, as Highway 400 leading up to Molson Park was jammed in both directions (from Cottage country to the north, and from Toronto to the south), and the festival was once again sold out. That year's lineup included Sass Jordan, Sarah McLachlan and The Tragically Hip.
Between 1989 and the end of 1990, CFNY underwent a change in management, which brought with it a change in format, and a lot of anger in listeners. Even most of the on-air staff agreed with the listeners, though they couldn't say anything. While the festival did go on that year, and once again sold out Molson Park, many people came in order to protest the new programming policies (in fact, someone even hired a plane to tow a protest banner over the park). However, the show went on glitch-free, and featured second appearances by 54-40 and The Tragically Hip.
|“||We had survived a horrible transition, which explained why the  gig at Molson Park in Barrie on Monday, July 1 felt extra special,"||”|
By the fifth show, in 1991, the owners had again been replaced, and the format (and radio station) had stabilized. For the first time in two years, a foreign act, the Violent Femmes played, along with Blue Rodeo and the Crash Test Dummies.
For the 1992 Edgefest, Molson needed their park back, as they were planning "The Great Canadian Party", a series of Molson-sponsored concerts, simultaneously running across Canada on Canada Day 1992. However, the two companies came to an agreement to share the show, with half the bands booked by the Edge (including 54-40, The Tragically Hip, and Leslie Spit Treeo) and the other half booked by Molson (including Sass Jordan, Amanda Marshall and Spinal Tap).
In 1993, Molson again needed the park for their own purposes, but this time, they didn't want to share with Edgefest – so the festival packed up and relocated to the old Ontario Place Forum. 1993 was the first time the festival was called "Edgefest", a name that's stuck with the festival since; it was also the first year to have more than one day of concerts, taking place on July 1 and 2. The festival included The Odds, The Watchmen, Rheostatics, and Day 2 featured the first ever Canadian performance by Radiohead.
1 July 1994 also took place at the Ontario Place Forum, featured three international groups, The Proclaimers, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and The Lemonheads. This show was among the last events held at the Forum. Even as the show was being booked, plans were underway to tear it down and replace it with the Molson Amphitheatre, which would play a big part in the future of Edgefest, starting with 1995.
Once the new Molson Amphitheatre was built, Molson was happy to show it off, and offered it to Edgefest for three dates in summer 1995. The first was on the May long weekend, 21 May 1995. Over 9,000 people came to see Blur and Elastica, during the height of Britpop. It was also an early major appearance for Our Lady Peace, who were new and riding the success of their early Canadian hit singles "Starseed" and "Naveed" at the time, and Ned's Atomic Dustbin was back for the last time before breaking up. 20,000 people came for the annual Canada Day version on 1 July, which featured an all-Canadian lineup including The Odds, Treble Charger, The Watchmen, hHead, Junkhouse and Crash Vegas. Although the day of the third 1995 Edgefest show, 5 August was rainy and cool, a good crowd came to see almost 30 bands, most of whom were Canadian, but also featured a pre-fame Sugar Ray. The third 1995 Edgefest was notable at the time as Sloan's farewell performance. (The band re-formed less than a year later.)
The festival's tenth incarnation took place on 30 June 1996, the first time there wasn't an Edgefest show on Canada Day, though the show was back at Molson Park. 35,000 people came to see Our Lady Peace, The Tea Party, I Mother Earth, and the fifth Edgefest appearance of 54-40.
At the end of 1996, a promoter asked the Edgefest organizers if they could put the whole festival on the road, and as such, Edgefest 1997 was held across Canada, with four dates in Eastern Canada and four in Western Canada. Beginning on June 28 in Barrie, the show moved on through Montréal, Quebec; Ottawa, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; Calgary, Alberta; Edmonton, Alberta; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and finally Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. At each stop, the same group of bands played, including Collective Soul, Holly McNarland, Our Lady Peace and I Mother Earth.
The 1998 Edgefest tour was similar, again with eight shows in eight cities, resulting in eight sellouts. The lineups varied a bit between the cities, but for the most part there was the same group, including Bif Naked, the Matthew Good Band, Sloan, Moist, The Tea Party, and international content in Green Day and the Foo Fighters. Creed played the second stage to add to the lineup of now famous bands that once played that stage at Edgefest.
1999 was the last year of the national experiment. Headlined by Hole and Moist, there once again were two days, as tickets for the July 1 show sold out within 5½ days. While the first day was miserably rainy, attendees toughed it out, and on the sunny and warm second show, there were another 20,000 people. Other performers in the thirteenth Edgefest included Big Wreck, Silverchair, Finger Eleven, Len, Wide Mouth Mason, Gob and Serial Joe.
With Edgefest 2000, the Canada-wide tour had ended, and it was back to the usual Canada Day bash at Molson Park. Creed graduated to the main stage, and was joined by Filter and Goldfinger. Playing the side stage this year was both 3 Doors Down and Nickelback.
In 2001, Edgefest was one of the few years where the weather was absolutely miserable – rainy and bitterly cold. Headlined by Tool, who flew in from Europe especially for the concert, but left right after playing their very short set, angering fans. Other bands that year included Bif Naked, Gob and the first appearance of Billy Talent.
Later that year The Edge also hosted the first "Edgefest II," held at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto, on Saturday August 25. It was headlined by Blink 182 with other bands to perform including New Found Glory and Sum 41 among others.
|“||As unbearably cold this Edgefest was in 2001, the 2002 festival at Molson Park was unbearably hot. No clouds, no breeze, The air temperature hovered around 35 degrees [Celsius — 95 °F (35 °C)], but if you were crowded near the stage it had to be like 45 or 50. It was just brutal.||”|
Emergency crews were busy all day during the 2002 Edgefest treating sunstroke, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. Musically, Nickelback moved up from the side stage to headliners, and were joined by bands including Cake (who left the stage after being pelted by bottles), Thirty Seconds to Mars, Default, Simple Plan and Theory of a Deadman.
2003 was the most challenging one ever thrown. As the world believed that Toronto was a plague zone due to an outbreak of SARS, bands were nervous to come play there. To make matters worse, insurance companies refused to underwrite tours, in case someone at a show came down with SARS at a Toronto show and decided to sue. When the crisis finally passed, Edgfest '03 took place, on 6 September. Billed as "The Last Bash in Barrie," due to the fact that once again the Edgefest festival would be leaving Molson Park for the Molson Amphitheatre at Ontario Place, the show included The Tragically Hip, Sloan, Our Lady Peace, the Stereophonics and Fefe Dobson.
In 2004, Edgefest moved back to the Molson Amphitheatre. Headlined by Finger Eleven and Good Charlotte, the show also included Billy Talent's move to the mainstage, Alexisonfire, The Salads, Something Corporate and Australia's Jet.
Edgefest 2005 was headlined by Billy Talent, and also included Coheed and Cambria, Jakalope and Rise Against. It was also the first year that there was a side stage designated for a certain record label, Underground Operations, on which Bombs Over Providence, Closet Monster and Hostage Life, among others, played.
As 2006 is the twentieth anniversary of Edgefest, two shows were scheduled. The first, billed as "Edgefest One", took place on 1 July. Headlined by Our Lady Peace, who brought fans on stage, and encouraged fans to use their cameras (use of which is always prohibited) and even record an unreleased song, Kiss on the Mouth – Singer Raine Maida went so far as to actually ask for a fan's audio recorder and sang into it, as well as into the microphone, during that song. Other bands included Keane, Mobile, Neverending White Lights and Hot Hot Heat.
On 16 July, "Edgefest Two", the second Edgefest 2006 show took place. It had three stages – the main stage, the Edge Next Big Thing side stage, and the Bedlam Society/Dine Alone Stage, another record label-based stage. Performing at Edgefest Two was Yellowcard, The All-American Rejects, Story of the Year and The Miniatures.
It was announced that there would be no Edgefest in 2007.
On February 26, 2008, Dean Blundell announced the return of Edgefest. The show took place July 12, 2008 at Downsview Park with headlining band Linkin Park. Other acts included Stone Temple Pilots, the Sam Roberts Band, The Bravery and others.
Edgefest 2009 was held on June 20, 2009. The show took place at Downsview Park. Billy Talent were the headliners. The musicians that performed on the Main Stage in addition to Billy Talent were: AFI, Alexisonfire, k-os, The Stills, Arkells, and Metric.
In 2010, CFNY 102.1 The Edge opted to forgo a day long concert festival for several concerts throughout the summer months called "The Edge Summer Concert Series".